Air freight, as it exists today, comes with a range of considerations for anybody looking to ship cargo. As things stand, that upper weight limit cannot be given as a single figure. However, as an example we might consider the largest passenger plane that can be used for freight is the Airbus A-380, which has a belly load of around 84,200 kgs; the largest freight-only aircraft is the Antonov AN-225, with a capacity of 250,000 kgs.
Also important is the dimensions of doorways, which means that cargo must be prepared to be suitable for air travel. Beyond this, there are safety considerations, as turbulence is not at all uncommon over long haul flights and so cargo needs to be able to withstand a certain amount of jostling as well as the loading and unloading processes at each airport.
These, at any rate, are the main limitations of air freight today. But many companies are looking to predict what the next development in air freight might be. The latest trends in the advancement of air freight are not, however, all based around capacity. There are also the issues of security, speed, and processing.
All these areas are seeing development, checked only by increasing environmental concerns that are beginning to affect the development of air freight as an industry. Preferred Shipping, a DHL authorized reseller specializing in international ecommerce shipping, say that predicting the future of air freight is a matter of considering all these things together.
A Larger Share
As things stand, air freight is a smaller part of the global logistics network than both land and sea freight. This is partly to do with the fact that national or continental freight rarely requires air travel, and even international freight can do without it when land and sea freight are combined, as they frequently are. Air freight today only has the advantage where speed is a crucial factor. Nevertheless, new innovations seem to suggest that air freight could play a much larger role in the future.
The reason for this is that many of the current trends are expected to streamline the entire process, making air freight easier to manage, increasing its efficiency and even reducing its carbon footprint. Furthermore, trends in the commercial world are leading to an increased need for air freight, which is driving its development.
So, what are these new trends set to shape the air freight of the future? Here follows some of the major ones:
The Rise of Ecommerce
Ecommerce has, of course, been increasing for a while and this ascent shows no signs of slowing down. The Covid-19 pandemic also fueled an increase in the amount of freight related to ecommerce purchases. To give some concrete evidence of this, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are considering switching to 24-hour operation. Where customers want their goods quickly, air freight is the natural choice.
Insufficient Air Freight Capacity
Partly on account of the ecommerce trend just described, it is becoming more and more apparent that aircraft capacity is not currently up to the job that is required of it. Accordingly, we could see larger planes carrying heavier loads.
Volatile Shipping Rates
Certainly, since the pandemic (but before too) shipping rates per unit weight have been volatile at best, and downright unpredictable at worst. Air travel has not seen this volatility on account of its smaller share of the market. Yet, almost ironically, this is what is driving an increased interest in it.
Air freight has a future – a future fueled by the limitations of other freight modes.