Overview of the Different Types of Air Cargo – K Jet Logistics

What goods are usually transported? In this article, you will explore the wide variety of goods transported by air, from general cargo to valuables, live animals, and perishables.

Transporting the World: Understanding the Types of Goods Shipped by Air

It is no secret that the global economy depends on the delivery of goods and products at competitive rates to consumers worldwide. If you’re wondering what is air cargo shipping, then you are at the right place. Here, we are going to list the types of air cargo and the types of air cargo services.

Different Types of Air Cargo

What is air cargo? Air cargo can be further divided into two major groups – general and special cargo. Special cargo has additional requirements such as temperature control and protective measures while transporting goods. On the other hand, general cargo includes the transport of pharmaceuticals and electronics. While air cargo costs more than transporting by ship, certain fragile goods such as electronic items require special care and attention, which is impossible to provide while transporting them via the sea.So, what is not allowed in air cargo? There are many items that are advised not to transport via air cargo. These include lithium batteries, flammable items, explosives, biochemical products, and illegal goods, along with UN-classified dangerous goods.

If you’re wondering what are the types of air cargo, then here’s a quick breakdown:

General Cargo

General cargo is all those items that do not fall under the special cargo category or do not require any special care while transporting. More often than not, the items that are transported as general cargo are consumer goods and retail goods, hardware, textiles, and dry goods.

Hazardous Cargo

There are a distinct set of rules that need to be followed when shipping hazardous cargo by air. These rules have been put in place to ensure the smooth and safe transport of hazardous items. The regulations also aim to protect aircraft and ground-handling crews who may come in contact with hazardous cargo.The UN classification system lists nine classes of what it considers dangerous goods. These goods are indicated by specific UN-designated numbers on the packaging, labeling, and declaration form. There are also certain quantity limitations that must be followed when shipping hazardous cargo, which may vary depending on the point of origin and the destination of the hazardous air cargo.

Perishable Cargo

Perishable cargo includes flowers, vegetables, fruits, and meats. Perishable logistics is considered to be one of the most challenging, mainly because perishable goods are more susceptible to getting damaged while in transit. Their delicate nature requires special care and attention from the ground and cargo staff. While shipping perishable cargo by air is not always a cost-effective solution, they are a quick way of delivering perishable goods to their destination. When it comes to perishable goods, the time it takes to deliver can be the difference between a timely delivery or loss or spoilage.All perishable cargo that’s transported by air needs to follow IATA’s Perishable Cargo Regulations, which cover the packing, quality control, and risk management, as well as the delivery of such goods. The good news is that perishable goods are now becoming trackable with the help of technology. For example, Lufthansa Cargo recently succeeded in monitoring its fresh produce cargo. The airline has also added cargo facilitation centers along its route, such as the Lufthansa Cargo Perishable Center in Frankfurt, to prevent further damage to perishable goods.

Live Animals

Animals have been transported via air since the 1930s. Animals that are transported by air are protected under the IATA Live Animal Regulations, which is a worldwide standard when transporting live animals. The IATA LAR ensures that animals, whether they are being transported as pets or for agricultural purposes, are protected during transit. The IATA also coordinates with the Live Animals and Perishable Board to provide airlines with key data to enhance animal welfare while being transported by air. This includes using containers that conform to the rules and regulations that the IATA LAR has set.

Mail and Correspondence

It’s hard to believe that despite living in a digital age, around 321 billion letters and correspondence are sent via air every year. Designated Post Operators (DPOs) have relied on airlines for the delivery of mail and correspondence since 1911. The IATA established the Airmail Board (AMB) to develop and ensure standards and procedures for the transport of mail and correspondence are maintained by airline carriers. The AMB also works closely with other organizations, such as the International Post Corporation and the Universal Postal Union, to work on improving the framework for airlines to follow while delivering mail, parcels, and other correspondence via air.

Valuable Cargo

The IATA defines valuable cargo as goods that are valued over €933 per kilogram. Valuable cargo transported by air normally includes jewelry, medical tools, cash, high couture fashion, artwork, bank documents, or other important documentation. These services are ideal for art dealers, museum curators, or others who want to transport valuable cargo. Some of the advantages of using air cargo to transport valuable items are minimal tarmac time, temperature-controlled containers, and internal security services, including highly secured warehouses.


It is no secret that the various types of air cargo services are invaluable assets to global trade. The crucial role that air cargo plays in the global supply chain has been evident ever since the first airplane took off with the first air cargo in 1910. Through the years, and especially during the COVID pandemic, air cargo has proven to be the real connector between manufacturers and consumers worldwide. Air cargo has also kept the global supply chain functioning throughout the pandemic delivering goods and relief to countries around the world.
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