What are the differences between international courier and air freight services?

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What are the differences between international courier and air freight services? 

Numerous factors distinguish an international courier service from an air freight service on many levels.  Highlighting certain of these differences goes a long way towards enabling an informed decision to be made when choosing the most appropriate method of shipment.

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Shipping companies

The air freight shipping company delivers goods to the designated destination airport through major global airlines.

International courier services offered by most courier companies deliver parcels to their intended destination airport through the same channels however, a shipping agent is involved.

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Service area

International air freight shipping is sent to the destination airport whereas international express involves door-to-door delivery.

Time

An international courier service can take from three to six days to deliver a parcel.  However, air shipments may take a few days longer.    Delivery time is influenced by three main factors:

  • Air freight shipping company efficiency levels
  • Airport flight schedules
  • Speed of customs clearance process in the destination country

Tracking

A parcel can be tracked by an international courier service in real time using a waybill number whereas air freight shipping can only be tracked on the company website.

Calculation of fees

An international courier service usually charges a fee based on a 0.5kg rate whereas an airfreight shipping company usually incurs a fee based on a minimum of 45kgs regardless of actual weight.   This means that an international courier service is cheaper than an air freight shipping company provided that the weight of the goods does not exceed 45kgs, after which up to 100kgs will cost the same as an air freight shipping company whereas items weighing in excess of 100kgs will cost less to send using an air freight shipping company.

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