When Should You Choose Sea Freight Service Over Air Transport?

Everybody agrees that shipping by sea is cheaper compared to air, but you do not simply choose one option on price alone.

Several factors favor sending your precious cargo on an airplane rather than on a ship. For instance, air freight is definitely faster and more secure.

Even if the prices of air freight have gone down considerably over the years, companies still prefer shipping by sea.

For instance, according to estimates, the market was worth $99.8 billion in 2021. With a compound annual growth rate of 7.4% between 2021 and 2025, the industry is expected to reach $164.5 billion at the end of the forecast period.

It means that the industry will continue to grow despite the rising competition posed by air freight.

So, what are the criteria involved in choosing Sea Freight Services over air freight?

  • Calculate the value of goods. Since the worth of sending your cargo by sea is more affordable, you should always factor in the volume. You choose air freight, for example, if the cost of shipping would not exceed 20% of the total value of the goods. It is simply more expensive to send your products by air.


  • If your goods are prohibited from airports. Airlines, both cargo, and commercial have more rigorous regulations when it comes to items or products they can carry. It is particularly true if you are shipping hazardous materials. Logistics companies have more relaxed restrictions when you send the same cargo on a ship.


  • When you need to send more volume. When it comes to capacity, airlines could not compete with Sea Freight Services. The potential to carry all the payload to a destination on a single journey is high when you choose a ship over an airplane. For instance, you can put 60 large boxes inside a 40-foot container. You can also stuff inside a small sedan, two motorbikes, and six bicycles. To better picture out the capacity, the same container can hold 10,000 beer bottles. You do not have the same flexibility when you choose air freight.


  • If you care for the environment. Shipping by sea puts a lesser strain on the environment. According to the study by Defra, Sea Freight Services has a lower carbon footprint compared to by air. For example, sending two tons of cargo across 5,000 kilometers will create 150 kilograms of CO2e. For those who are not familiar with the term, CO2e is the measurement used to determine the potential contribution to global warming. In comparison, the same volume across the same distance will produce 6,605 kilograms of CO2e when you ship by air. Also, shipping companies have invested in green technology to offset carbon emissions. Among the innovations shipping companies are exploring is the use of solar cells to power some of its energy demands.


Ultimately, however, if you have meager resources, then you likely have no choice but to ship by sea. But make sure that you know the timeline of delivery.

As you might expect, it may take weeks to months for your goods to arrive at the destination, depending on the distance. Work with a logistics company that uses tracking technology so you can keep tabs with your cargo.

About Faheem Rafique

The author is an entrepreneur and business writer with over ten years of experience in the field of small business ideas, marketing and branding. Let's connect if you have anything to discuss!