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Air Freight Data and Paperwork: COGISTICS Transportation Handles All the Details

Air freight services

While international air freight volume in tonnage was down 12% for the first nine months of 2023 due to macroeconomic challenges, it showed signs of recovery in Q4, up 3% from the prior year. Regardless of fluctuations in volume due to market conditions, air freight services remain a critical transportation mode for expediting shipments for a variety of reasons.

Whether capacity is constrained or not, booking air freight services is a complex business involving the orchestration of a variety of elements simultaneously. Varying infrastructure and technological capabilities across different countries affect the efficiency and reliability of air freight operations. Also, identifying the most efficient and cost-effective routes for air freight is challenging, taking into consideration factors like weather, geopolitical situations, and airspace restrictions.

COGISTICS Transportation, a leading provider of transportation and logistics services both domestically and internationally, helps facilitate seamless air freight services for shippers of all kinds. We provide a complete end-to-end solution offering transparency, visibility, communication, and education throughout the air freight booking process.

The Regulatory and Compliance Aspects of Air Freight

There are always regulatory changes being promulgated, both domestically and internationally. For instance, the U.S. Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) has updated its export controls for computers, electronics, and semiconductors, among other things. This is in addition to sanctions and restrictions on exports to Russia and Belarus, in the wake of the Ukraine invasion.

In addition, each country has its own set of customs regulations and documentation requirements. Ensuring compliance with these regulations, including tariffs, duties, and import/export restrictions, requires expert oversight.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), representing 320 airlines in more than 120 countries, publishes air cargo regulations, standards, and best practices. Each year, there are 350-plus changes to IATA manuals covering the transportation of items such as dangerous goods and perishables, as well as cargo handling and ground operations standards.

Strict security protocols covering air freight include comprehensive cargo screening and compliance with aviation security standards, adding layers of complexity and time to the shipping process. Also, adherence to trade agreements between countries, as well as compliance with sanctions, embargoes, or restricted items specified by international bodies, poses yet more challenges.

As air freight is time-sensitive and expensive, shippers must have all the necessary paperwork and documentation to ensure compliance and avoid costly delays. There is a range of documents required for air freight, depending on what is being shipped and where, including:

  • Commercial invoice: A detailed document specifying the goods being shipped, including descriptions, quantities, values, and the terms of sale, used for customs clearance and valuation of duties and taxes.
  • Packing list: Includes weights, dimensions, and packing materials, providing a more detailed breakdown than the commercial invoice.
  • Air waybill: This is a critical document issued by the airline or freight forwarder that acts as a receipt and contract for the transportation of goods. It includes shipment details, consignor and consignee information, and handling instructions.
  • Certificate of origin: This document certifies the country of origin. It may be required for customs clearance and determining eligibility for preferential trade agreements or duty exemptions.
  • Bill of lading: In cases where the goods are transported via sea-air or multimodal transport, a bill of lading serves as a receipt, contract of carriage, and document of title for the goods.
  • Export license or permit: For certain goods, this document from the exporting country’s authorities may be necessary. It confirms that the shipment complies with export controls and regulations.
  • Insurance certificate: Proof of insurance coverage for the shipped goods, providing details of the insured value, coverage terms, and risks covered during transit.
  • Customs declaration: Various customs forms may be required, depending on the destination country, to declare the nature, value, and quantity of the goods being shipped. This includes forms like the Single Administrative Document (SAD) or specific country-specific customs forms.
  • Dangerous goods declaration: Required for shipments containing hazardous materials or dangerous goods. It details the nature, quantity, and handling instructions for hazardous items.
  • Letter of credit: When payments are facilitated through a letter of credit, this document outlines the terms and conditions agreed upon between the buyer and seller.

Other types of air freight paperwork that may be required include certificates for specific products, inspection certificates, or specific industry-related documentation.

Data Management and Its Impact on Air Freight Services

As with all other forms of transportation and logistics, data and data management play a crucial role as so much of the documentation required is shared electronically. According to the IATA, data management is a key component of any air freight strategy, given market fluctuations and shifting demand patterns. Data analytics is used to help shippers better understand market trends, inform carrier negotiations and pricing, and provide overall optimization of air freight logistics and spend.

Here are some examples of how data management and data analytics impact air freight operations:

Visibility and Tracking

Real-Time Updates: Effective data management facilitates real-time tracking of shipments, providing visibility into their location, status, and estimated arrival times. This helps in proactively addressing delays or issues.

Customer Service: Accessible data enables better customer service by providing accurate, timely information to clients on shipment status.

Compliance and Regulatory Requirements

Customs Documentation: Proper data management ensures the accuracy and completeness of customs documentation, aiding in regulatory compliance.

Trade Compliance: Managing data related to trade agreements, tariffs, sanctions, and specific country requirements also helps ensure compliance with international trade regulations.

Inventory and Supply Chain Management

Demand Forecasting: Analyzing historical data helps forecast demand, optimize inventory levels, and improve supply chain efficiency.

Inventory Visibility: Data management enables real-time inventory visibility across different locations, helping in stock management and preventing stock-outs or overstocking.

Operational Efficiency

Route Optimization: Analyzing historical data on shipping routes, transit times, and carrier performance allows for better route planning and optimization, reducing transit times and costs.

Capacity Management: Data management aids in managing and optimizing cargo capacity, ensuring efficient use of available space and reducing wastage.

Risk Mitigation and Security

Risk Assessment: Data analysis helps identify potential risks and vulnerabilities in the supply chain, allowing for proactive risk mitigation strategies.

Security Measures: Managing data related to cargo screening, compliance with security protocols, and secure data exchange ensures adherence to aviation security standards.

Decision-Making and Continuous Improvement

Data-Driven Decisions: Access to accurate, relevant data helps stakeholders make informed decisions in carrier selection, pricing strategies, or process improvements.

Continuous Improvement: Analyzing data metrics and performance indicators allows for ongoing process improvements and optimization of air freight spend.

Collaboration and Communication

Information Sharing: Effective data management facilitates seamless communication and data sharing across the supply chain, enhancing collaboration and reducing errors.

Overall, a robust data management approach is the backbone for informed decision-making, compliance, and continuous improvement within the complex global air freight shipping ecosystem.

COGISTICS Transportation utilizes data analytics to enhance service delivery, visibility, communication, and compliance for air freight services.

All data and relevant information from every piece of paperwork, including customs documentation, are captured as data points, translated into systematic updates, and transmitted directly to parties dictated by the shipper. It is also clearly and concisely displayed in the COGISTICS Transportation dashboard, allowing anyone with access to quickly determine the status and location of the shipment.

Every key piece of information is clearly displayed in order to address any internal questions or issues that may arise. Also, satellite tracking, as well as a downloadable PDFs of all documentation, are available and easily accessed along the entire route.

COGISTICS Transportation’s Tech-Forward Air Freight Services

COGISTICS Transportation will re-engineer and manage all your domestic and international air freight, giving you peace of mind that SLAs and deadlines will be met. Our cloud-based platform provides a collaborative communication system, advanced tracking, real-time status updates, customized reporting, and data analytics. COGISTICS Transportation integrates seamlessly with your enterprise systems (ERP, WMS, etc.) for reporting, auditing, and management purposes.

COGISTICS Transportation provides time-critical air freight booking management across modes (air charter, on-board courier, next flight out, express, and standard), so we can customize a program to suit your business needs.

Airtight Air Freight Paperwork, Without the Hassle

The outlook for air freight capacity is tightening up a bit, with tonnage ticking up 3% in Q4 of 2023. But whatever way the supply/demand balance moves, booking your expedited air freight shipments is a complex endeavor laden with regulatory and customs requirements.

One call to COGISTICS Transportation and our team of experienced logistics professionals will provide you with an outstanding experience that will exceed your expectations. Get a free quote today and discover the COGISTICS Transportation difference.



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