How to calculate Airfreight Volumes – a simple guide

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How to calculate Airfreight Volumes – a simple guide. We’ve tried to make this as easy to understand and we appreciate the challenges for decision makers.

Why is my air freight more expensive?

Air freight volume weight is the most likely reason why your airfreight is more expensive than you expected.  Historically freight cost per kg or pounds were against the gross weight.  When shipping lightweight, large goods it became much less profitable for shipping companies.  This is especially so for airlines and aircraft.

How is it calculated then?

In airfreight 1kg is equal to 6000 cubic centimetres.  Note that in this calculation we only ever use metric.

So, for example:

1 x box 30kg, dimensions:  60x40x30 cms = 72,000 ÷ 6000 = 12kg volume.  Its chargeable weight is 30kg which is higher than the volume weight.

Equally you may have another example:

1 pallet 200kg, dimensions:  120x100x120 cms = 1,440,000 ÷ 6000 = 240kg.  This pallet’s chargeable weight is 240kg which is higher than the gross weight.

Why is there chargeable weight in airfreight?

 The most common explanation is that it cannot be fair to expect the same amount of space costing equally for a shipment of feathers versus a shipment of steel bars.  The feathers would weigh considerably less but take up a lot of space, whereas the same space of bars would weigh a lot more.

Large freight movements

If you have very large freight it’s still worth checking air freight costs.  Freight forwarders calculate Airfreight per kg at different ‘weight breaks.’ These are usually minimums around +45kg, then +100kg, +300kg, +500kg and +1000kg.  In the case of very large shipments a ‘spot’ rate may be possible.

You should always aim to negotiate the best cost with a forwarder, taking into consideration ocean may be cheaper.  Price comparison on the face of it may seem that ocean is lower, however when to take into account local end charges often air better value.

I hope this Howto on calculate Airfreight Volumes has been useful.

Further information here can be found on Wikipedia

Want to see how to calculate seafreight volumes? Click here.

Howto Calculate Airfreight Volumes:

How to calculate airfreight volume - a simple guide
A simple visualisation on calculating Airfreight volume


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