Determining the ideal mode of transportation for your freight requires ongoing analysis. A one-time review of your supply chain needs won’t be sufficient to keep your supply chain efficient and cost-effective.


No matter which method you choose, working with a provider who offers a full suite of global logistics and technology services can help ensure the method you want is available when you need it most.


Be sure to consider the following when evaluating whether air freight or ocean shipping is the best option to meet your current transportation needs.


Cost is based on freight characteristics


While it may seem like ocean shipping is always cheaper than airfreight, you first need to understand how each is billed.


Airfreight is billed through chargeable weight, which is a metric calculated by combining the weight and size of the shipment. In ocean shipping, shipment weight is not usually factored in. Instead, ocean shipping is billed by container—a full standard container (20’ x 40’) is charged a flat rate. Less than container loads (LCL) are billed by cubic meters.


For large, heavy shipments, shipping via ocean is often much less expensive. But as shipment sizes decrease, the margin between air and ocean prices also decreases.


But the actual cost of transportation is only the beginning. You also need to calculate inventory costs. Warehousing fees related to ocean shipping tend to be more expensive than warehousing fees at airports.


Keep in mind that both modes of transportation will face customs and destination fees when shipping internationally.