11.11.2022 - Magazine

Air transport: logistics by air

Globalisation has created the highest demands for the worldwide availability of goods. Here, fast transport is often what counts. Logistics companies then form the important interfaces – between procurement, production and the point of sale. They rely on various transport solutions, whereby air transport is often the best solution for fast worldwide deliveries. The demands on airlines and freight forwarders in handling air transports are correspondingly high.

Air transport as an important pillar in logistics

The steady expansion of international trade is one of the reasons for the strong increase in air freight volumes in recent years. Of all transport methods, air transport has recorded the highest growth – and the trend is still rising. After stagnating from 2010 to 2013 (50.7 million tonnes of air freight), global air freight volumes rose rapidly to around 64 million tonnes in 2018. In 2020, air freight volumes plummeted due to the Corona pandemic. However, it recovered just one year later and, at almost 66 million tonnes, was even higher than before the corona crisis. It becomes clear: air freight is and remains one of the most important growth engines in the global transport business. But what exactly is meant by the term air freight?

Definition of air freight: transport of goods by air

Air freight primarily includes all goods that are transported by aircraft. Air transports are divided into two types:

  • Transports in pure cargo aircraft
  • transports as additional cargo in passenger aircraft (“belly freight”)

In addition, there are feeder services at airports using trucks, which are also assigned flight numbers for reasons of traffic law. These so-called “road feeder services” thus also count as air freight in the broadest sense.

Short delivery times – punctuality of air transports

In transport logistics, punctuality and fast, safe deliveries are the most important factors. Among the transport methods, air transport wins the race in terms of speed, safety and reliability. However, they are somewhat more expensive than other types of transport such as sea freight or rail transport. Of course, the latter transport methods can be planned accordingly to ensure a smooth supply chain. However, there are certain goods for which thorough planning of the transport is not (or no longer) possible. In the same way, there are sometimes situations where air transport is the only (good) option for moving the goods. However, in the case of air freight, it is of course always necessary to plan the transport to the airport or from the airport to the customer or to the next station of the goods. Here, freight forwarders can not only organise carriers in cooperation, but also take over the supply chain management beyond that – as a so-called lead logistics provider like Huettemann is.

Warenumschlag als wichtige Schnittstelle für Lufttransport

Cargo handling as an important interface for air transport

Air freight is usually delivered to and collected from the airport by road transport. This delivery to or collection from the airport is called pre-carriage or on-carriage. The handling of the goods on site at the airport is then a decisive factor for the successful transport of airfreight “just in time”. For goods to be transported or made available worldwide quickly by air, the handling in the cargo centre at the airport must function smoothly. Even small errors can damage or completely destroy entire deliveries of goods, which is why the greatest care is required. Airlines, freight forwarders and transport companies must therefore work hand in hand to manage the transports safely.

Eigenschaften und Vorteile von Lufttransporten

Features and advantages of air transport

Whether importing or exporting air freight, the advantages for customers quickly become clear. Air freight scores with short transport times over long distances, fast cargo handling and swift forwarding through the aforementioned road feeder services. Since forwarding companies organise air transports very precisely, air freight is therefore the ideal transport method for goods that need to reach their destination quickly. These include, among others:

  • Relief goods
  • Foodstuffs (perishable goods)
  • Urgent spare parts
  • Live animals and plants
  • High-priced goods (at risk of theft)

Another major advantage of air freight is the high security standard that applies to air transport in general. In addition, the strictly timed flight schedules ensure that shipments can be dispatched at precisely the right time. The overall logistical concept of air transport is therefore relatively trouble-free.

Lufttransporte: Vorteile von Luftfracht auf einen Blick

Air transport: Advantages of air freight at a glance

  • Over medium and long distances, the aircraft is the fastest means of transport.
  • Aircraft are very safe means of transport and relatively independent of natural effects
  • Very reliable shipping by air due to flight schedules that are timed to the minute
  • Costs of capital commitment remain relatively low due to shorter storage and waiting times

Lufttransporte: Hoher Preis für schnelle Lieferungen?

Air transport: High price for fast deliveries?

As already mentioned, the prices for air transport are usually higher than for other transport methods in transport logistics. Nevertheless, transport by air freight can be worthwhile in the long run. This is because both the costs for warehouse logistics and waiting times can be minimised or not incurred at all through fast air transport. Therefore, the short capital commitment can be another advantage and makes the mode of transport interesting for corresponding goods.

Zollabfertigung von Lufttransporten

Customs clearance of air transports

Customs clearance is as much a daily task in logistics as the transports themselves. Because when freight is transported between countries, customs duties are usually incurred. The procedure of customs clearance is often taken over by the forwarding agent in charge, as they have the right local partners and good contacts to the customs authorities. Huettemann also offers customs clearance – for additional security and smooth customs clearance of the customer’s air freight.

Lufttransporte mit Huettemann

Air transport with Huettemann

Whether pick-ups directly from the factory, transports between important hubs or deliveries to B2B distributors: In order to provide optimal air transport, Huettemann maintains a worldwide network of selected airlines and cargo freight stations at the important gateways. Combined with the know-how of a freight forwarder and close cooperation with customers, efficient air freight solutions are part of our daily business. Both for the import and export of air freight within Europe and internationally.

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In the Huettemann Group we bundle our extensive service portfolio for one goal: to find the perfect, customised logistics solution for you. In addition to our global transport and warehouse services, we offer you numerous logistics services along the entire supply chain. In this way, we develop logistics concepts with added value that suit you.


Competent, diverse, high-performance and future-oriented: As a family-run international logistics company with headquarters in Duisburg, we have been turning our passion into a profession for more than 65 years and today, more than ever, we stand for customised logistics solutions along the entire supply chain.


Every industry has its own logistical requirements. As a broadly positioned logistics company, we adapt to the goods flows and wishes of our customers. We go one step further: we become an integral part of your process chain.