At any given moment, there is an average of 9,782 planes carrying 1.27 million people in the air. Though airlines are used to transport people all across the globe, they are also widely used to transport various items. Everything from toys and tools to medications and food supplies are transported daily via air.
But that’s not the only method of transport. There are approximately 6 million shipping containers filled with automobiles, heavy machinery, and much smaller products being transported across the world’s oceans.
According to Business Insider, Amazon, a transportation behemoth, increased its worldwide shipping costs fifteenfold from 2009 to 2018, increasing its net sales by sevenfold during that same timeframe. Whether it’s through air or sea, Amazon is excelling at global transport.
“Amazon is doing everything possible to keep their shipping expense low because it’s ballooning,” said Marc Wulfraat, president and founder of supply-chain consultancy MWPVL International.
Rather than rely on third party shipping companies like FedEx, USPS, and UPS, Amazon is focusing on keeping their shipping in-house, which has enabled them to keep their shipping costs much lower than previous years.
“In the last three years, Amazon has built a global end-to-end logistics network that comprises of their own internal last-mile network, their own trucks, their own trains, their own truck brokerage, and their own and ocean freight forwarding,” added Ravi Shanker, analyst at Morgan Stanley.
After only three years of being in air cargo, Amazon already has 760 cargo flights a week, including 40 Boeing 767s.
For organizations that don’t have access to Amazon’s technology, momentum, and bankroll, it’s not always that easy to transport across states, countries, and oceans.
Ocean Freight vs. Air Freight
Both ocean transport and air transport offer plenty of distinct advantages, but there are a few important things that organizations need to consider before choosing one or both of these shipping options.
- Environmental Impact — In the past, much to the chagrin of the planet, companies didn’t care too much about the environmental impact of their shipments. That’s not the case anymore, as the environment has become a critical issue for virtually every global industry. Though ocean shipment is currently winning the battle for environmental responsibility, oil spills and pollutants are still seeping into the ecosystem, causing all sorts of damage.
- Cost — In order to make the best decision for your transportation needs, you need to learn how carriers charge for international shipping. Airlines bill by a chargeable weight, which is calculated from a combination of the size and weight of a shipment. Conversely, ocean carriers charge per container rates for shipping in standard containers (20′ and 40′). With larger and heavier shipments, it’s typically more affordable to ship by sea.
- Speed — Lastly, speed and convenience are crucial for determining how to ship various goods. For items like medications that need to be delivered as soon as possible, nothing beats air transport. If companies can have a little more patience with shipments, ocean freight is a fine option.
Unless you have the revenue stream like Amazon, make sure you’re doing plenty of research before you decide how you’re going to transport anything.