How Does Air Freight Work?

March 25, 2015

Seabridge Global Logistics News

Have you ever wondered how air freight works? Today, almost anything can be transported by air. People, pets, food, cars and even helicopters can be shipped by plane. Beyond the logistics of getting to and from the airport, often freight operators share very little on their methods or machines.

For our first in a series of articles on how freight works, we look at the three main categories of air freight and the amazing flying machines that do the job.


When hundreds of travellers and all their luggage busily pile into a commercial passenger plane, it’s hard to believe that there’s room for anything else. In reality, almost every passenger flight is carrying additional freight. Depending on the size and configuration of the plane, some of the larger passenger planes can carry as much as two semi-trailer loads of additional air freight.

Packages are generally consolidated and transported in special containers that fit the plane’s storage area beneath where passengers sit. Some freight may loaded on pallets and any remaining space may be home for loose items. Of course many planes also have a temperature-controlled and pressurised area for transporting animals, which are also protected from other cargo and luggage.


Dedicated cargo planes or freighters can carry immense loads of air freight. The Boeing 747-400, for instance, can transport as much as five semi-trailer loads. Picture a passenger plane but with all the seats stripped out and the floor replaced with electric rollers to help move pallets forwards or backwards. The lower level can also hold cargo by pallets and special containers. Loading and unloading occurs through various hatches on the sides of the aircraft and sometimes through the nose.


Moving the big stuff takes a specialist super transporter. These giants of the sky are specially designed to transport heavy, oversized items such as power station generators, helicopters and even planes. One of the largest commercial super transporters is the Airbus A300-600ST, known as the Beluga. With its huge cargo area located above the cockpit, giant swing-nose door and 47-tonne cargo capacity, the Beluga can fill almost the entire length and breadth of the plane.

Whether you require national or international air freight, sent on the next available service or as priority next flight express, you can rely on Seabridge to get it there safely, on time, every time. For tips on air freight or a competitive quote, contact our air freight specialists today on free call 1800 727 195.

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