At CFC, we want to be your single source for your supply chain solutions. We do this by working in virtually every aspect of the logistics management, including shipping via air.
Here this page will guide you to China air freight, including the advantages, cargo types, a sample airway bill, shipping process, china main airports list and more. Keep reading.
Air Freight Terminology
Air Waybill, is a non-negotiable transport document issued by the carrier (Master AWB) or the agent (House AWB), which indicating that the carrier has accepted the goods listed therein and obligates itself to carry the consignment to the airport of destination according to specified conditions.
International Air Transport Association, which supports airline activity and helps formulate industry policy and standards of the world’s airlines.
ETD: Estimated Time of Departure
ATD: Actual Time of Departure
ETA: Estimated Time of Arrival
ATA: Actual Time of Arrival
Estimated Transit Time is for estimation purposes only and commonly can NOT be guaranteed although most shipments will depart and arrive as scheduled.
Commodities classified by IATA according to its nature and characteristic in terms of the effect of its danger to carrier’s flying safety.
Aka Chargeable Weight or Billable Weight. Carrier charge for freight based on the dimensional weight or actual gross weight whichever is higher.
The MOQ is 45 kgs. The rate class is +45kg, +100kg, +300kg, +500kg, +1000kg. The courier cost less if < 100kg for most destination countries.
You can simply take it as air container just like sea container. Not much attention needs to pay.
* If the cargo exceeds below the weight and volume, the carrier can determine the allowable maximum limit and volume cargo base on the flight model, departure and destination airport handling equipment conditions.
Air Freight Advantages
The best thing with air shipment is speed.
In general, the transit time from China is no longer than 10 working days. Only 3~5 days in most cases. This is a vast reduction compared to ocean freight. Nowadays, the fast delivery time alone can make a huge impact on a business niche.
Please note that air freight is just to-airport delivery. You or the freight agent needs to handle the customs clearance and inland transportation to your warehouse, while courier services such as DHL/FedEx/UPS/TNT can be the one stop to-door delivery provider.
- Air freight = airport-to-airport
- Air courier = door-to-door
|Air Freight||Air Express/Courier|
|Weight||100 - 3000 kgs||0.5 - 150 kgs|
|Volume||> 1 cbm||< 1 cbm|
|Transit Time||2 - 7 days||2 - 5 days|
|Upon Arrival Airport||None||Clearance and to-door delivery|
Air Cargo Types
By cargo properties, they can be divided into
- General cargo
- Special cargo
1. General cargo
Such as electronics, Jewelry, pharmaceuticals, wristwatches are high value. The electronics industry accounts for around 40% of the value of the entire international air cargo industry.
They need to be transported in a very good condition. The air shipping cost more than sea shipping, but means nothing compared to the value amount of products.
2. Special cargo
Including living animals, goods that are dangerous or need temperature control. For example, some chemicals are dangerous goods, and seafood that requires refrigeration and freezing during the whole-course cold chain transportation.
Perishable or hazardous goods are subject to different regulations, compared to general cargo. They have to pass through various inspections and need to meet numerous requirements, and not every airline can accept these items.
Make sure that you advise in detail about special goods you want to ship. Because leaving out any detail might lead to penalties/extra fees and denial of shipment.
Most of the special cargo can be classified as general after tested by the authority. And there should be a report – Identification and Classification Report for Air Transport of Goods shown to the carrier before loading.
2.3 With oil or liquid
2.4 With battery
2.5 With magnet (needs magnet test)
2.5.1 Audio accessory and equipment
2.5.2 With motor inside
Other restrictions will apply due to national laws and regulations of specific airlines.
Please note that most of the airlines are saying NO to the following names or descriptions of the commodity: Lithium Battery Toys, Scooter, Hoverboard, Power Supply, Power Bank, Air Bag, Electric Board, Electronic Board.
Air cargo rate is calculated by chargeable weight, measurement unit is kilogram. The measurement unit of valuable cargo is 0.1 kg. Chargeable weight is the heavier one between gross weight and dimensional weight.
|Volume Unit||Dimensional Weight|
|By air freight||cm³||Volume/6000|
|By express courier||cm³||Volume/5000|
* If the weight is less than 21 kg, then the minimum chargeable unit is 0.5 kg; If more than 21 kg, then 1 kg.
* To calculate air goods volume L x W x H in inches divided by 366 = weight in kilograms
We have detailed this topic via here.
Air Waybill (AWB) Sample
If you have read our blog about Bill of Lading, you can also understand the AWB. AWB is almost the same structure as Ocean Bill of Lading (OBL).
An Air Waybill is a documentary proof of the contract of carriage between the shipper and the carrier.
It also serves as:
- a delivery receipt
- a receipt of goods for shipment
- a document required for Customs clearance
- a form of invoice for the carriage of the goods
- an insurance certificate (if the insurance cover was arranged through the airline)
- a dispatch note, bearing a list of all accompanying documents, and any special instructions given by the shipper
Difference between AWB and OBL
The rule of AWB played in an international shipping is almost the same as OBL, but AWB doesn’t serve as a document of title. This is the most significant difference.
The words non-negotiable are printed at the top of the Air Waybill, and must not be changed or removed.
The AWB will be delivered with the air cargo. So as soon as the plane departs from the loading airport, the cargo rights will be transferred to the consignee. The consignee can only show their identification to claim the shipments. The AWB cannot be transferred. That’s why you have to pay freight costs before departure from China.
There’s a column called “Rate Charge” in the middle of an AWB. This rate will be automatically generated by the airlines according to IATA, and can NOT be modified. The charge shown is higher than you really paid.
This is the all-in billable weight rate, calculated by:
- GCR (General Cargo Rate)
- SCR (Specific Commodity Rate)
- CCR (Commodity Classification Rate or Class Rate)
- BUC (Bulk Unitization Charge)
Air cargo tracking
Each AWB has its unique number. You can find this number on the head section. By submitting the number on the tracking page of the airline’s official website, all updated tracking information will be available.
The bill format is 2 airline code + 3 numbers as prefix + several numbers. Example, Air China Cargo, CA as the airline code, 999 as prefix.
Tracking & Tracing from Air China Cargo
Some carriers will provide a free service called email alert. When the goods moved, the updated status will be sent to you shortly. Take advantage of that.
Top 10 International Airports in China
In international air transport, there are standard short name of each airport created by IATA. The airport short name is formed by three capitalized letters for easy recognition.
PEK – Beijing Capital International Airport
HKG – Hongkong International Airport
CAN – Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport (CA/QR/TK/EY/MS/NH to Middle East and Africa)
PVG – Shanghai Pudong International Airport
SHA – Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport
CTU – Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport
SZX – Shenzhen Baoan International Airport (CA/HU/CZ/MU to Europe and North America)
KMG – Kunming Changshui International Airport
XIY – Xi’an Xianyang International Airport
HGH – Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport
Main Airlines’ Shipping Routes
1. Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand
BR, CA, CZ, FM, GA, KE, MH, SQ, MU, BI, NX, NZ, PR, QF, TG, UO, 5X, ZH, AI, VN, 9W
|MH||KUL||PEN CMB DAC DEL HYD SYD MLE BEY DXB JED JNB|
|SQ||SIN||SYD MEL AKL BNE|
|VN||SGN/HAN||DAD RGN PNH|
2. South Asia, Middle East and Africa
EK, EY, ZP, MU, SU, PR, CA, UW, CX, QR, MH, CZ, SV, TG, TK, BI, SQ, AI, GA, BA, HU, 9W, W5, ZH, ET
|EY||MAA/AUH/DEL/BOM||AMM BAH BEY DMM DOH DXB KWI JED IKA SHJ LCA LOS ACC ADD JNB CAI|
|EK||DXB||AUH SHJ DWC IST IZM ADA ANK DAR EBB KRT NBO CAI BOM DEL CMB MLE DAC ISB|
|SV||RUH||LOS JNB KRT ADD TUN ALG DKR|
CZ, MU, CA, BA, KL(MP), UPS, RU, Y8, GD, EK, SV, CX, EY, KE, OZ, JL, TK, AY, SU, LX, TG, ZP, QR, BI, HU, MH, ZH, 6U
|UPS||CGN||AMS BER BOD BRE BRU CDG DTM DUS FRA FMO HAJ HAM HHN LUX MUC SNN CPH ZRH|
|SU||SVO/HHN||ATH BUD LCA WAW PRG AMS BER BRE BRU BSL CGN DTM DUS FMO FRA HAJ HAM BCN CPH LON MIL NCE ROM VCE VIE|
|CA||CPH/VIE/MXP/FRA||AMS ANR ATH BCN BRE BRU BSL BIO CGN HAM LUX MAD NUE ROM RTM|
MU, F4, BR, QF, Y8, UPS, PO, SQ, CX, KE, OZ, JL, UA, AA, CO, AC, AM, HU, BA, LX, EK, PR, CZ
|AA||ORD/LAX||JFK DFW MIA YYZ YUL ATL CLT PHX BNA CVG CLE DTW IND MCI MKE SDF MSP STL SFO SEA SDQ STI|
|AM||LAX/MEX||GDL GUA SCL MTY SCL SJO LIM BOG EZE|
|CO||EWR||YYZ MEX MTY GDL GIG GRU EZE|
|PO||LAX/CVG||AUS DEN DFW IAH MIA SEA SFO SLC YVR ABE ABQ ALB ATL BOS CLT DFW MCI LAS JFK JAX EWR|
|UPS||ANC||ORD JFK EWR GDL MEX MTY SAP SJO SJU TGU CCS EZE|
Air Transport vs. Sea Transport
|Factor||Air Transport||Sea Transport|
|Distance||Air is most preferred for a direct city to city transport and on the most direct routes between countries.||Sea is preferred for shipments that need to travel great distances spanning the vast oceans.|
|Type of Cargo||Unless special aircraft chartered, there are limited dimension and weight for loading.||Apart from the traditional parcel or box freight, sea is also used to transport heavy equipment, cranes, project cargoes, etc.|
|Time Sensitivity||This mode is chosen mostly due to its quick transit time and their usually reliable scheduled arrival and departure times. Benefits may be lower inventory carrying costs and the opportunity to capture market share.||A transit time of a month from point to point is quite normal for a sea freight shipment.|
|Cost||Air cost higher mainly due to the capacity available on a plane, the higher fuel consumption and operational costs of a plane.||A cargo ship can carry much more at once.|
|Safety of Cargo||Airport regulations are controlled quite strictly and these regulations include the storage, handling and securing of your cargo.||If the cargo inside the container is not packed properly, or LCL, there is a risk of cargo getting damaged.|
|Accessibility||Ashandled quicker, there may not be congestion at the airports as compared to the long queues at the sea ports. Even had, it could be solved in days.||Periods of severe congestion in sea ports could happen, which brings with it its own problems of additional costs like demurrage and detention.|
A shipment may have various requirements regarding the mode of transport to be used, but essentially, it comes down to the nature of the freight, the time frame and how much budget.
You’d better seek a good balance between the service quality offered, cost component, the reliability of the service provider and time frame.
Also, it’s important to always keep an eye on both the air and ocean markets as both are extremely volatile. In many cases, depending on how market rates are moving and other market dynamics, one mode of transport can be chosen over the other.
Air Shipping Process with CFC
We suggest you buy FOB, and let your supplier handle the inland trucking to the airport. If the incoterm is EXW, we can also pick up for you.
Quote → Book → Pay, job done from your side. Let us do all the rest heavy job without disturbing you.
- You fill and submit our quote form with your shipping details. (Quote)
- You can expect the response within 12 hours.
- We discuss more, and come to an agreement.
- You or your supplier fill and submit our booking form. (Book)
- We contact your supplier and recheck everything needed, then book the space from the carrier.
- We or your supplier arrange inland delivery to the airport.
- We confirm the chargeable weight.
- You pay the shipping cost as we agreed. (Pay)
- We arrange customs declaration and forwarding the goods.
We’ll keep tracking your shipment and keep you updated till received.
As a valued partner we want to deliver more than just savings, we deliver peace-of-mind.
What CFC Can Do for You?
You have goods that quickly needs to be moved. You have the dimensions, the weight, the timeline and you find CFC as your China air freight forwarder.
We understand that the products we are going to forward are urgent, high-value, time-sensitive or perishable.
What we are trying to do is deliver your shipments as early as possible, and make the process smoothly with a competitive air shipment quote. Whether airport to airport, or airport to door, you can rely on us.
- Cargo insurance
- Door to Door service
- Fumigation and inspection
- Direct flight to worldwide
- Single-source quoting
- Competitive air freight rates
- Customs clearance service at origin or destination
CFC covers all major airports in China with cheap prices. Depends on where’s your shipment located, and the available schedules to your destination, we’ll choose the best suitable one for you as your loading airport. We rely on qualified partner carriers that are committed to providing safe, efficient and on-time service to importers across the world.
Low cost, time definite services, and proof of delivery, that’s we are doing and we are good at it. We are always interested in new opportunities and supporting your business.
CFC improves profitability for customers by allowing them to focus on their core competencies while we manage their logistics, providing great air freight solutions.
If you choose delivery by air, we’ll understand that you can’t afford customs issues or any hang-ups, and you certainly don’t have time to deal with them. You can just leave the rest to us, once we come to an agreement about the freight charges and the ETA.
CFC help customers gain more control over their supply chain, become more cost effective and increase transportation management efficiency. Thank you to all our customers for allowing us to be your one-stop logistics provider and helping deliver peace of mind.
Get a free quote now for air freight from China to USA, UK, Australia, Canada and all over the world. We are always ready for your time-critical supply chain management.
CFC News - Oct. 27, 2020
🎃Demand is expected to remain strong, may last into November or the end of the year, or stay at these levels as long as until Chinese New Year in February.👻
The ultimate step-by-step ebook about sourcing from China, especially for U.S. importers 
Check your potential suppliers in China – get the verification report in 24 hours. Protect your business, avoid scams and frauds.
My machine arrived in good order and I am happy with CFC's shipping arrangements. I received quotes from other forwarding companies but they kept changing the amounts. Your quote was exact and there were no hidden charges. I would be happy to recommend CFC to other importers of goods from China.
--- Chris G., Canada
Click for more reviews