Domestic freight is often associated with ground transportation like trucks and rail, with overseas shipping primarily connected to ocean cargo. But some goods (and some delivery deadlines) warrant the speediest option - taking to the skies with air cargo. Air cargo - also known as air freight - involves shipping goods using airplanes, as reflected by the companies that made the list of the Top Air Cargo Carriers of 2023.
Top Air Cargo Carriers
The top 14 air cargo carriers account for hundreds of aircraft, billions of dollars in revenue and thousands of freight ton kilometers (FTK) - which measure a metric ton of freight carried one kilometer. This list includes leaders in one or both categories when it comes to revenue and FTK.
United Parcel Service (UPS)
Korean Air Cargo
China Southern Airlines
Types of Cargo Using Air Freight
Air freight can handle a variety of cargo, but shippers should do a cost analysis to determine when transporting via airfreight is the best move. While most of the time, it is the most expensive mode, believe it or not, there are times when it might save money. Air cargo companies typically move high-value or time-sensitive shipments (also known as expedited) that need to reach their destination quickly. There are two main categories of air freight: General Cargo and Special Cargo.
General cargo can include a variety of fast-moving commercial goods (FMCG) - basically any type of product that needs to get to its destination especially fast but does not require overly special handling. In other words, things that end up on retail shelves or websites - your average consumer goods.
Special cargo on the other hand does require special handling, and includes a variety of unique freight and critical shipments (even including some living cargo), like:
As you can tell by the list of special cargo, there are plenty of unique types requiring unique handling. This cargo can either travel on passenger aircraft or dedicated cargo airlines that carry no passengers. Even still some cargo airlines may share branding with and look the same as many well-known passenger airlines.
If your shipping needs involve air cargo - or you'd prefer your goods stay grounded - we can help. Just fill out our Request a Quote form to tell us about your business needs and we'll provide shipping solutions to fit your unique requirements. If you're interested in reading more from us, check out our Freight Guides.