How Much Does Air Freight Cost?| The Ultimate Guide

Air Freight Cost

You don’t need to be a pro to calculate the air shipment cost.
But taking a few suggestions and facts into consideration can assist you better.

Another term of air cargo is airfreight. This service is fast, reliable, and flexible. So, it can be used for urgent deliveries or items which have quick shelf lives.

In this article, we dive deep and help you understand how to calculate air freight rates, review types of air freight rates, what factors are included, discuss DIM, CBM, chargeable weight in detail, and tips for saving cost in airfreight.

Airfreight refers back to the procedure of moving or transporting items in a bulk amount via air. It’s constantly been an excessive value-to-weight type of cargo and it’s the quickest way to move items globally.

The advantages of air freight are: 

  • Much shorter time of shipping than every other freight 
  • Reliability 
  • Speed of shipping 

What are the Types of Goods Transported by Air?  

When you decide to deliver your goods by air, you should know that there are two main types of air shipments:  

  1. Special shipment  
  2. General shipment 

Special Cargo permits heavy articles, hazardous substances, and temperature-managed goods. It additionally permits human tissue samples, organs, fragile, excessive-value articles, and animals. 

General Crago allows digital machinery, hardware, consumer items, retail goods, toys, clothing, and textile, etc.  

Air cargo is transported on distinct types of planes, including passenger planes, cargo planes, charter planes, or helicopters.

Prohibited Articles/load For Air Cargo:

A few confined objects are endangered for the aircraft or passengers’ protection and health with extra restrictions.  

  • Explosives and fireworks  
  • Gases and hearthplace extinguisher  
  • Flammable liquid or solid  
  • Pesticides and Lithium batteries  
  • Strong magnetic products  
  • Radioactive substance 
  • Lab chemical  

What factors include air freight rates?

Air Freight cost relies upon three things: 

  • Type of cargo (size, weight, special cargo) 
  • Destination ( domestic/ International) 
  • Speed 

What are those factors which affect air freight cost structure? 

Many factors cause air freight cost like: 

  • Special events or holidays season 
  • Traditional /New regulations 
  • Economic situation 
  • Technology (robotic, augmented reality, drones, AI, and big data) 

Other additional costs like cargo insurance, airline terminal handling fees, customs clearance, and security surcharges are also included in the cost. 

Read More About Fuel Surcharge: What Is Fuel Surcharge?

When we talk about airfreight cost we need to know about a few things regarding rates like Cubic Meter (CBM), Dimensional Weight (DIM), and Chargeable weight. 

What is CBM? 

To find the freight volume of the cargo in domestic and international shipments, we use CBM measurement.

Where, we multiply by Width(W), height(H), and length(L) together of the cargo to get CBM.

How to Calculate CBM in Airfreight? 

The standard formula for this: 

(Length * Height * Width) / 6000 = volumetric weight(kg/CBM) ≃ 166.66 kg 

 So, 1 CBM = 167 Kg 

For more in depth detail you can read this guide : Easy Way To Calculate CBM And Freight Ton

What is Chargeable Weight? 

The Chargeable weight is the heavier weight between the actual cargo weight and Dimensional weight(DIM). 

How is Chargeable weight calculated in airfreight? 

It is defined as follow: 

  • 166 cubic inches (in3)/lb (pound) 
  • 366 cubic inches (in3)/kg 
  • 6000 Cubic centimeter (cm3)/kg 

What is DIM? 

It is also called the Volumetric weight that use to calculate from Width, Height, and Length of the package. 

How to calculate a dimensional weight(DIM) in airfreight? 

The formula for calculating DIM is : 

(Length * Width * Height) / Dimensional Divisor 

Here, the Dimensional divisor or factor is a number set by the major freight carriers like UPS, FedEx, DHL, and USPS. 

Plus, the divisor weight won’t be in centimeters(cm) it should be in Kilogram(Kg). 

The DIM factor could be 5000, 6000, and 7000 cm3/kg for Express/ couriers. 

The fact is, the larger the DIM divisor, the lesser the volumetric rate. That’s why 6000cm3/kg is better than 5000 cm3/kg. 

How many types of units of measurement are used in airfreight? 

Two types of Units we use for measurement in airfreight: 

  • Metric System (Kg, cm) 
  • Imperial System (lb, inch) 

What are IATA DIM factors in airfreight? 

In IATA, different DIM divisors are used for domestic and international. 

For Domestic: 

  •  Cubic Inch/Pound 

                   in3/lb = 166 

  • Cubic meter/Kilogram 

                   cm3/kg = 6000 

For International: 

  • Cubic Inch/Pound 

                  in3/lb = 139 

  • Cubic Meter/Kilogram 

                  cm3/kg = 5000 

For dimension and weight, units of measurements in airfreight are: 

1- For Dimension 

  • Centimeter (cm) 
  • Meter(m) 
  • Millimeter(mm) 
  • Feet (ft) 
  • Inch (in) 
  • Yard (yd) 

2- For weight 

  • Kilogram(Kg) 
  • Pound(lb) 
  • To acquire the DIM weight in Kilogram(kg), divide the cubic inch(in3) by 366 
  • And For Pound(lb), divide the cubic inch(in3) by 166 
  • And in Kilogram(kg), divide the cubic centimeter(cm3) by 6000 

How to Calculate DIM for Express/Courier (FedEx/DHL/UPS/USPS)? 

FedEx use to calculate DIM weight with this formula: 

(Length * Width * Height) cm / 5000 

Same calculation is used in DHL, UPS, and USPS as well. 

How to calculate the air freight cost in general with examples? 

Like we said before, air cargo depends on weight and volume. 

The formula is used by the airline: 

(Length * Width * Height) * 366 

So, the result will be in KG. 

We can understand this by these examples: 


If we have one pallet with the following dimension: 

Weight = 48 

Length = 40 

Height = 50 

But, the actual weight of the cargo is 200kg. 

Now, we have to find the volumetric weight. So, what we will do 

 ( Weight* Length * Height) = (48 * 40 * 50) = 96,000 

Chargeable weight = 96,000/366 = 262.3 kg 


Physical weight = 200kg 

Volume weight = 262.3 kg 

In short, airlines will always consider volume weight 262.3 kg as the chargeable weight. 


The cargo consists of 4 cartons each weighing 50 kgs and measuring (60 * 30 * 45 cms) / (23.62 * 11.81 * 17.71 inches) 

Actual gross weight = 4 cartons * 50 kgs = 200kg 

Volumetric weight in kg using centimeters = (60 * 30 * 45) * 4 cartons / 6000 


Volumetric weight in kg using inches = (24 * 12 * 18) * 4 cartons / 366 

= 20,735/366 

Total volumetric weight = 54 kg 

Output: 200kg is greater than 54kg 

Therefore, the chargeable weight will be the actual weight which is 200kg 

Types of Air Freight Cost 

It’s important to grasp that fuel consumption is roughly proportional to the cargo weight and therefore, the destination has flown. There are different rates for various forms of aircraft: 

Belly Cargo: During this case of shipping, rates are usually set based on marginal cost. 

Charter Cargo: Here, the rates are usually higher, reflecting the incremental distance flown, and available capacity. 

Feeder Cargo: Companies like DHL and FedEx rely on feeder airlines that operate small aircraft. 

How to Save Cost in Airfreight? 

There are many ways to lessen your shipment’s cost in airfreight. Some tips are mentioned below: 

  • Don’t over-bundled your cargo 
  • Use lightweight packaging 
  • Avoid heavy or big carton in a size 
  • Reduce spare space by squeezing the products that can be squeezed. 
  • Reduce carate size 
  • Don’t put all items together especially on a small shipment 
  • Bargaining on your DIM factor 
  • Use courier services that don’t charge volumetric weight. 
qafila container shipping service

Final Thought  

Things happen when shipping your cargo by sea, especially damage risk is much higher. So, it’s better to choose air shipping. It would be secure, reliable, and fast. Hire a reliable service provider who can help you out from all these time taking processes, handle your goods carefully, and provide you excellent guidance throughout the importation process. 

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