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frmrCapCadet
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What Goods are Shipped by Air

Fri Aug 20, 2021 4:39 pm

Paul Krugman in his NYT blog today discusses this. He reports that planes carry about 30% of international trade by value. I cannot figure out how to copy even a small part of this article. NYT is particularly proprietary about this sort of thing. Perhaps someone on this site could help.

The big number come from electronics, machinery, tools and manufacturing products, some textiles, precision instruments, and pharmaceuticals.

Let me add that as a general topic for civil aviation having a good idea about its contribution to world trade is important. Ideally I would like to know what countries are exporters and importers of these valuable goods. With some clues to help I would be willing to make this my special task and contribution. I was surprised that agriculture plays a quite minor role per the chart.
 
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ER757
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Re: What Goods are Shipped by Air

Fri Aug 20, 2021 5:03 pm

[twoid][/twoid]A surprising (to some) amount of fresh flowers come in to MIA, mostly from South America.
Cherries from the midwest US to Asia are huge during harvest season. Can't tell you how many LD-3's and LD-7's we used to load out of ORD back when I was stationed there
Edit: Oh, and before I forget, wine is big too. Our JFK office has an entire department dedicated just to import/export of wine and spirits
 
jetmatt777
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Re: What Goods are Shipped by Air

Fri Aug 20, 2021 5:10 pm

Think of anything that is either time-sensitive and/or perishable. It is fairly expensive, but fast.

Flowers, fresh fruits, seafood, body parts for transplant, and priority mail is the bulk of it.

Some flights I have worked received car parts on a regular basis for some reason; entire exhaust assemblies wrapped tightly in bubble wrap - not boxed. Those were always interesting. And very unstackable in the cargo hold.

Oil field parts used to be a big thing - the oil companies do not like to have a rig down waiting on a parts shipment to be trucked halfway across the country. I haven’t seen those too much anymore.
 
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ER757
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Re: What Goods are Shipped by Air

Fri Aug 20, 2021 5:14 pm

jetmatt777 wrote:
Think of anything that is either time-sensitive and/or perishable. It is fairly expensive, but fast.

Flowers, fresh fruits, seafood, body parts for transplant, and priority mail is the bulk of it.

Some flights I have worked received car parts on a regular basis for some reason; entire exhaust assemblies wrapped tightly in bubble wrap - not boxed. Those were always interesting. And very unstackable in the cargo hold.

Oil field parts used to be a big thing - the oil companies do not like to have a rig down waiting on a parts shipment to be trucked halfway across the country. I haven’t seen those too much anymore.

Yes, anything that is for a "line down" situation is tailor made for air freight. AOG aircraft parts also fit that bill. We ship an amazing amount of aircraft parts from OEMs and other suppliers to various airline customers the world over.
 
FGITD
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Re: What Goods are Shipped by Air

Fri Aug 20, 2021 5:26 pm

jetmatt777 wrote:
Think of anything that is either time-sensitive and/or perishable. It is fairly expensive, but fast.

Flowers, fresh fruits, seafood, body parts for transplant, and priority mail is the bulk of it.

Some flights I have worked received car parts on a regular basis for some reason; entire exhaust assemblies wrapped tightly in bubble wrap - not boxed. Those were always interesting. And very unstackable in the cargo hold.

Oil field parts used to be a big thing - the oil companies do not like to have a rig down waiting on a parts shipment to be trucked halfway across the country. I haven’t seen those too much anymore.


That’s pretty much it. Anything you can imagine. From animals, flowers, fish, to helicopters, wind turbine blades and vehicles.

Anything unstackable is the worst. I always hated losing an entire LD7 to one shipment or piece but that’s because I had to figure out load plans, not worry about the money we were making.

In general however I’ve found that most airports are in fact just big glorified fish markets
 
FluidFlow
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Re: What Goods are Shipped by Air

Fri Aug 20, 2021 5:37 pm

Roses, a shit ton of them at the beginning of february here in Europe they come from South American and African destinations. Whole aircrafts full of it. Lufthansa cargo delivers around 900 tonnes of it alone IIRC.
 
frmrCapCadet
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Re: What Goods are Shipped by Air

Fri Aug 20, 2021 5:39 pm

Fish and flowers are fun. Alaska probably exports a lot of the former (mostly by Alaska Airlines?), and likely even a bit of the later. Ideally we could quantify some of all of this. Cherries in Washington State took a big hit, both from weather and from the China/US trade disputes.
 
Euroflyer181
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Re: What Goods are Shipped by Air

Fri Aug 20, 2021 6:35 pm

jetmatt777 wrote:
Think of anything that is either time-sensitive and/or perishable. It is fairly expensive, but fast.

Flowers, fresh fruits, seafood, body parts for transplant, and priority mail is the bulk of it.

Some flights I have worked received car parts on a regular basis for some reason; entire exhaust assemblies wrapped tightly in bubble wrap - not boxed. Those were always interesting. And very unstackable in the cargo hold.

Oil field parts used to be a big thing - the oil companies do not like to have a rig down waiting on a parts shipment to be trucked halfway across the country. I haven’t seen those too much anymore.



Not just exhaust assemblies: Also combustion engines, batteries, chassis, and even tires! Anything that could stop the production line is mitigated through air freight.
 
oldJoe
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Re: What Goods are Shipped by Air

Fri Aug 20, 2021 6:44 pm

FluidFlow wrote:
Roses, a shit ton of them at the beginning of february here in Europe they come from South American and African destinations. Whole aircrafts full of it. Lufthansa cargo delivers around 900 tonnes of it alone IIRC.


LH Cargo even claims 1.500 tonnes , ~ 40 million roses and 16 flights for a MD-11F
https://lufthansa-cargo.com/-/1-500-tonnes-of-roses-on-board
 
MIflyer12
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Re: What Goods are Shipped by Air

Fri Aug 20, 2021 6:48 pm

Tens of millions of laptops. Hundreds of millions of iPhones and tablets. Semiconductors. Small, light, high-value items. An iPhone may wind up retailing at $500/pound. Icelandic cod does not.
 
bigb
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Re: What Goods are Shipped by Air

Fri Aug 20, 2021 7:12 pm

I’ve recently flew a 747 filled to the brim with Flowers. I had a 747 filled with Eggs to bring, I’ve carried lobster, appliances, electronics, express packages, military gear.

A lot of stuff you see is time sensitive.
 
LightChop2Chop
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Re: What Goods are Shipped by Air

Fri Aug 20, 2021 7:28 pm

Your package from Amazon most likely is. As is the asparagus on your dinner plate. The fish in your aquarium. and the phone you a reading this forum on. And that is just for starters.
 
mackdad
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Re: What Goods are Shipped by Air

Fri Aug 20, 2021 7:42 pm

Most of the winter fruit and vegetables are shipped up from South America to US and Europe. The flowers for Valentine's come South America. Gold is also shipped out of South America. AA keeps those widebodies busy.
 
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ER757
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Re: What Goods are Shipped by Air

Fri Aug 20, 2021 7:42 pm

bigb wrote:
I’ve recently flew a 747 filled to the brim with Flowers. I had a 747 filled with Eggs to bring, I’ve carried lobster, appliances, electronics, express packages, military gear.

A lot of stuff you see is time sensitive.

Mentioning lobsters bring back quite a memory - we got in an LD-3 filled with langostines once and the smell just about made me keel over right on the dock. I think a number of them must have died in transit. We returned the empty to the airline rather than hang on to it to load it with outbound just to rid our warehouse of the stench :vomit:
 
PHLspecial
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Re: What Goods are Shipped by Air

Fri Aug 20, 2021 7:54 pm

With air shipping growing this that why a lot of the legacy carriers have been opting for large planes in the past few years. Planes such as the A321, 739, and 737 Max 10?
 
m007j
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Re: What Goods are Shipped by Air

Fri Aug 20, 2021 8:23 pm

frmrCapCadet wrote:
Fish and flowers are fun. Alaska probably exports a lot of the former (mostly by Alaska Airlines?), and likely even a bit of the later. Ideally we could quantify some of all of this. Cherries in Washington State took a big hit, both from weather and from the China/US trade disputes.


Icelandair probably has them beat-all they really care about when buying airplanes is how much fish they can fit in the cargo holds
 
chrisair
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Re: What Goods are Shipped by Air

Fri Aug 20, 2021 8:56 pm

Chemical products are shipped routinely via air. In fact, it's not uncommon for some shipments out of China to get delayed during iPhone release time.
 
beachroad
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Re: What Goods are Shipped by Air

Fri Aug 20, 2021 9:15 pm

I worked in shipping for years. The answer is basically anything that people want fast.

Typical things include perishables. However you will also see clothes or consumer electronics that need to be on sale very quickly for commercial reasons. Sometimes industrial parts, especially if they are needed urgently to avoid delaying production. Medicines too. Also things with a high value, when buyers want their stock in their hands for security reasons, or want to sell quickly to get their money back.

Small parcels are a growing business, with ebay etc.

Also, when you're shipping to landlocked countries or locations air has a natural advantage, as border complexities or poor highways can make reliable delivery by land quite a challenge.
 
77H
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Re: What Goods are Shipped by Air

Fri Aug 20, 2021 9:43 pm

I had an interline shipment transferring over to my airline wherein the transfer manifest denoted 1 shipment consisting of 3300 kgs of sex toys originating out of SGN bound for LAX.

As others mention above, anything that people or businesses need quickly, have a short shelf life or even a beating heart. One of the coolest shipments I've ever been involved in was the movement of a live baby hammerhead shark headed to an aquarium as part of a conservation campaign. The shipper designed in a porthole on the top of the tank allowing for inspection throughout transit. The tank was then strapped to a PMC pallet before being loaded onto the aircraft.

77H
 
CXH
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Re: What Goods are Shipped by Air

Fri Aug 20, 2021 10:29 pm

Timely article today from Reuters that interviews Air Canada's Cargo VP re the value of cargo to a pax primary airline.

Short quote:
Cargo remains important for Canada's largest carrier, accounting for 43% of second-quarter revenue, even as it restores passenger flights, a company executive told Reuters.
"We (cargo) were a single-digit piece of the business before COVID. We hope to be a bigger part of that in the future," Jason Berry, Air Canada's vice president for cargo, said in an interview, without providing a target.

https://www.reuters.com/world/the-great ... 021-08-20/
 
whatusaid
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Re: What Goods are Shipped by Air

Sat Aug 21, 2021 1:03 am

We ship fresh tomatoes to Japan from California. Tomato cost is about 1/5th of the cost of air freight, but there are several fast food chains who want a hard US grown tomato where they get seven slices per tomato and not a softer Japanese tomato that doesn’t slice well. Surface shipment is too slow.
 
tcfc424
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Re: What Goods are Shipped by Air

Sat Aug 21, 2021 2:43 am

I would presume that 30% figure is based on value, not volume or quantity.

When I worked for legacy UA in AUS, we shipped a fair amount of horse semen. I would imagine LEX does as well.

My dad worked for SonicAir (bought by UPS) and they specialized in next flight service virtually anywhere. One of their coolest (back in the day) were film canisters. They had a courier waiting at the conclusion of every NFL game and took the cans to the nearest airport for a flight to Philadelphia where another courier was waiting on its arrival to rush it to the NFL Films lab. There, the film was processed and then the process reversed, sending the processed film to the next opponent. The rush was to give the next team the most time to prepare. I would presume most of this is transmitted digitally these days, but I'm not 100% sure on that. They also warehoused other stuff, like Compaq computer parts and memory for instant upgrade/replacement, MRI machines...you name it.
 
trent768
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Re: What Goods are Shipped by Air

Sat Aug 21, 2021 11:38 am

I've seen styrofoam boxes with Thai Cargo stickers on almost every Asian store back in Sweden. Probably filled with all kind of spices, leaves, and roots.

I've also saw a car being loaded to my AMS bound A380's belly in DXB. IIRC, GA also shipped several McLarens inside their 77W from the UK to their dealer here in Jakarta back then. They also famously flown several illegal Bromptons and HD bikes and spare parts for the previous CEO during the A339 delivery.
 
frmrCapCadet
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Re: What Goods are Shipped by Air

Sat Aug 21, 2021 2:14 pm

tcfc424 wrote:
I would presume that 30% figure is based on value, not volume or quantity.

When I worked for legacy UA in AUS, we shipped a fair amount of horse semen. I would imagine LEX does as well.

My dad worked for SonicAir (bought by UPS) and they specialized in next flight service virtually anywhere. One of their coolest (back in the day) were film canisters. They had a courier waiting at the conclusion of every NFL game and took the cans to the nearest airport for a flight to Philadelphia where another courier was waiting on its arrival to rush it to the NFL Films lab. There, the film was processed and then the process reversed, sending the processed film to the next opponent. The rush was to give the next team the most time to prepare. I would presume most of this is transmitted digitally these days, but I'm not 100% sure on that. They also warehoused other stuff, like Compaq computer parts and memory for instant upgrade/replacement, MRI machines...you name it.


Indeed, the 30% is based on value. It would still be useful if someone could legally download the chart Krugman used. For each category of goods is showed what percent was shipped by all travel options, Boat, rail, truck, air etc. I would even assume there could be some errors or misleading information in all that data. But it is likely the very best starting point we could have to make a quantitative discussion going.
 
x1234
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Re: What Goods are Shipped by Air

Sat Aug 21, 2021 2:18 pm

This is old but I remember iMacs in the 1990s being shipped by Korean Air. Now its FedEx/UPS/DHL out of Foxconn factories in China.
 
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chunhimlai
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Re: What Goods are Shipped by Air

Sat Aug 21, 2021 2:20 pm

everything that you can imagine
 
eskimotail
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Re: What Goods are Shipped by Air

Sat Aug 21, 2021 4:04 pm

Things that stick in my mind crossing the FedEx dock in Seattle.
777 loaded 100 percent with Cherries every day for 2 weeks, Pallets of CPAP machines, horse sperm, cash, engines, tires, bicycles, a live gorilla, a live tiger, lots of horses, super cars, X-Ray and MRI machines, lots o fish, oysters, really just about everything you can imagine. That was pre covid and before the sea borne shipping lanes collapsed, probably a lot more lower value stuff moving now due to that.
 
COSPN
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Re: What Goods are Shipped by Air

Sat Aug 21, 2021 4:42 pm

Things like cash diamonds IPhones / computer chips are small but expensive
 
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exFWAOONW
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Re: What Goods are Shipped by Air

Sat Aug 21, 2021 7:11 pm

Even if we could get that chart the OP talked about, keep in mind, most shipments use multiple modes. That widget most likely spent some time in a truck or train on its way to the airport. Was it counted as a truck fright AND airfreight, or was it split? Or was it counted only for the longest segment of its trip? The answer will skew the results one way or the other.
 
WayexTDI
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Re: What Goods are Shipped by Air

Sat Aug 21, 2021 10:08 pm

frmrCapCadet wrote:
Paul Krugman in his NYT blog today discusses this. He reports that planes carry about 30% of international trade by value. I cannot figure out how to copy even a small part of this article. NYT is particularly proprietary about this sort of thing. Perhaps someone on this site could help.

The big number come from electronics, machinery, tools and manufacturing products, some textiles, precision instruments, and pharmaceuticals.

Let me add that as a general topic for civil aviation having a good idea about its contribution to world trade is important. Ideally I would like to know what countries are exporters and importers of these valuable goods. With some clues to help I would be willing to make this my special task and contribution. I was surprised that agriculture plays a quite minor role per the chart.

Adding air freight cost to those high-value items will not drastically impact the final cost; hence why they are shipped by air, so they can be sold rapidly (and money cashed in).
 
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VS4ever
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Re: What Goods are Shipped by Air

Sat Aug 21, 2021 11:09 pm

I happen to work for a textbook publisher and can tell you we use airfreight quite a bit more than you think. Usually on smaller stuff that’s time sensitive for our customers. But there have been many cases where we have shipped pallets and pallets by air to meet certain needs. Textbooks maybe relatively small but trust me they are heavy and bulky when you put them together for a larger school district. Either way we have to balance out the requirement as it’s not cheap. So we still send most requirements by road.
 
ewt340
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Re: What Goods are Shipped by Air

Sat Aug 21, 2021 11:37 pm

It's not always expensive items. I remember ordering keyboard replacement for my old laptop that cost $40. And the shipping fee is $20 from Alibaba.
It arrives within 5 days from China to the US. Obviously they don't use ship to send it.

Same goes for my order from ASOS in the UK. It cost $20 for the next day delivery. It arrives 3 days later, and all the items I bought cost $70. So that's a total of $90.

All of them are small compressed objects btw. Never order items with larger diameters.
 
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PatrickZ80
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Re: What Goods are Shipped by Air

Sun Aug 22, 2021 11:01 am

As for air cargo, Amsterdam is a flower hub. Mostly tulips that are being grown in greenhouses in the Netherlands and shipped all over the world. Each day KLM planes fly all over the world with their cargo holds full of flowers so people can buy them while they're still fresh.

Oslo is a fish hub, mostly salmon. Norwegian salmon is the best and there is demand from all over the world, lots of that is being shipped by air through Oslo. Again, it needs to arrive at it's destination while it's still fresh.
 
bigb
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Re: What Goods are Shipped by Air

Sun Aug 22, 2021 11:40 am

Had over 30K KG of lobsters onboard today.
 
ltbewr
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Re: What Goods are Shipped by Air

Sun Aug 22, 2021 5:34 pm

Business documents by postal mail using air services or companies like FedEx, UPS & DHL are likely significant parts of freighter cargo. That may be in decline as more such documents are becoming digital in delivery and signing. Still some business documents need original signatures, there could be like with legal documents critical time deadlines or the reliability of service means using air freight. Another thing is in the USA we import far more manufactured goods than ship out, they pay most freighter ops and lower rates can be given to outgoing time sensitive products like seafood, fruits.
 
NYCAAer
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Re: What Goods are Shipped by Air

Sun Aug 22, 2021 5:58 pm

At AA, we ship anything you could imagine. We used to ship tons of lobster from JFK to CDG, and then the flights from CDG are filled with wine, perfume, cosmetics, expensive clothing and leather accessories, antiques, artwork, furniture, aircraft parts, pharmaceuticals. Once on a flight from LHR to JFK, we had about a dozen human heads from cadavers being shipped to a medical research lab in New Jersey. Lately there’s a lot of fresh salmon being shipped on flights from LHR to the US, all of it originating in Scotland.
 
26point2
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Re: What Goods are Shipped by Air

Sun Aug 22, 2021 8:06 pm

Kalitta takes a 747-400 load of beef cattle from PHKO (Kona, HI) regularly to the mainland. Kohala Ranch cattle. Must be some good beef if you’re into that sort of thing.
 
CairnterriAIR
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Re: What Goods are Shipped by Air

Sun Aug 22, 2021 9:27 pm

Go to many airports in the U.S. on a Tuesday or Wednesday, and you will see boxes and boxes of live tropical aquarium fish being unloaded from the holds of inbound flights from Florida, the Carribean, and Bali.
 
B752OS
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Re: What Goods are Shipped by Air

Sun Aug 22, 2021 9:58 pm

I read a couple of articles about how Sony had to secure air freight space to help keep up with the massive demand for the Playstation 5. Peloton also began using air freight to help clear out the large backlog for their bikes during the pandemic.

At a more local level, quite a bit of fresh seafood is moved out of BOS via plane.
 
sagechan
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Re: What Goods are Shipped by Air

Sun Aug 22, 2021 10:41 pm

Although a small part, even regional flights carry cargo, over the years I've had some of the following:
Seafood
Flowers
Fish for pet stores
Clothing
Bull/horse seman
Organs for transplant
Human remains
Poisonous snakes
 
dc10bhx
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Re: What Goods are Shipped by Air

Mon Aug 23, 2021 10:50 am

If it will fit and is safe to fly then almost anything can be sent on board an Aircraft. In the last 37 Years I have been in freight forwarding there are very few things that I have not either seen or been involved with moving by Airfreight.
 
SteelChair
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Re: What Goods are Shipped by Air

Mon Aug 23, 2021 12:37 pm

For me, the bigger question is, "What makes sense to ship by air?" And, "Who makes that decision?"

Given the huge cost increment to ship by air, I continue to be amazed at the quantity of air freight. Also, given the focus on environmental issues today, wouldn't it make more sense to produce locally (roses grown in a greenhouse versus shipped half way around the world) than to ship long haul?

I don't know the how's and the why's, but given the continuous growth of air cargo, I think the cargo carriers will rue the day that they let the -8 go out of production. Nothing else can carry the massive volume.
 
frmrCapCadet
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Re: What Goods are Shipped by Air

Mon Aug 23, 2021 1:40 pm

Oddly enough, food shipped from halfway around the world has often been found to be more 'green' that produced locally. Take asparagus, it tends to be the same price for much of the season, $1.50-4.00, whether local or air shipped. This raises a question that I have long been seeking. When air shipping is efficiently done (think Amazon) what is the actual cost per pound per, say, 1000 miles? I am suspecting it is a lot lower than most of us think.
 
jetmatt777
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Re: What Goods are Shipped by Air

Mon Aug 23, 2021 2:05 pm

Freight contracts can offer very favorable terms to regular shipments of a regular quantity and weight. It may ride at a slightly lower priority, at a much higher discount. This can be a win-win situation for the carrier and the company shipping the goods. The carrier can still load higher paying freight ahead of this shipment and get it out when available, with only a slight delay to the shipper. The lower profit margin is made up by the flexibility to hold off, and the uniformity of the shipments not causing much extra work for the carrier.

The cost to the airline is the same either way; if it is something you need shipped right now they will price that accordingly and it won’t be cheap. They make their cargo money off of the high priority expedited freight, the rest is gravy.
 
Murdoughnut
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Re: What Goods are Shipped by Air

Mon Aug 23, 2021 2:54 pm

Human remains are a much bigger cargo money maker than most people realize. When I was at TPA it was one of our top exports. Grandma dies in Florida and needs to be buried back in Ohio.
 
alasizon
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Re: What Goods are Shipped by Air

Mon Aug 23, 2021 4:51 pm

One I haven't seen mentioned yet is day-old chicks, they move around quite a bit via air freight.

The random things I've seen over the years as freight shows just about anything can/will/does get shipped as air freight. Favorite was always boxes of eucalyptus leaves bound for a zoo, cargo bin always smelt great after that.

Locally we had a contract with a computer manufacturer (I want to say Lenovo) for computers coming up from Mexico as ELP couldn't support the uplift so they were trucked to PHX for distribution and it was always comical that without fail some would go back to ELP and TUS.
 
CairnterriAIR
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Re: What Goods are Shipped by Air

Mon Aug 23, 2021 6:18 pm

Dog breeders will frequently ship puppies to new owners via air. And yes...human remains are regularly shipped. Every time I’ve gone to the cargo terminal to pick up the fish we ordered, a hearse in backing up to the loading dock. One day there I also saw a massive pallet of Girl Scout cookie cases. I asked the Southwest cargo agent to try and sneak me a box of thin mints if I left the troop the proper payment. He laughed and said they called “dibs” already....but he did toss me a few bags of Southwest snacks. Fair enough.
 
martlet76
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Re: What Goods are Shipped by Air

Mon Aug 23, 2021 6:19 pm

I used to be under the impression that most cargo was voluminous but relatively light. Speaking to Aeroloneas Argentinas educated me, their holds were stacked full of beef which is very dense.

Other oddities I have encountered:
Yacht masts
Radioactive material for hospital use (X-rays)

So, pretty much anything
 
WayexTDI
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Re: What Goods are Shipped by Air

Mon Aug 23, 2021 7:29 pm

martlet76 wrote:
I used to be under the impression that most cargo was voluminous but relatively light. Speaking to Aeroloneas Argentinas educated me, their holds were stacked full of beef which is very dense.

Other oddities I have encountered:
Yacht masts
Radioactive material for hospital use (X-rays)

So, pretty much anything

There are quite a few vials of viruses too that are shipped by air to the CDC in ATL
 
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jscottwomack
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Re: What Goods are Shipped by Air

Mon Aug 23, 2021 8:20 pm

Jumbo Jet Pieces and parts...... Boeing ships 787 parts on modified 747 and Airbus ships parts between plants in Europe, US & China via their own fleet.

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