Glossary of International Air Transport Terminology

International air transport plays a crucial role in global logistics and trade, connecting businesses around the world. Understanding the specific terminology used in this field is essential for effective communication and operation within the industry. In this article, we provide a detailed glossary of international air transport terminology to help navigate the complexities of shipping goods from China.

  1. Air Waybill (AWB): A document issued by an airline freight forwarder serving as a contract of carriage and receipt for the goods being shipped by air. It contains information such as shipment details, routing, charges, and terms of transportation.
  2. Air Cargo Agent: An intermediary or company involved in organizing and facilitating air cargo shipments on behalf of shippers or consignees. They handle booking, documentation, customs clearance, and related services.
  3. Customs Bonded Warehouse: A bonded facility authorized by customs authorities where imported goods can be stored without payment of duties and taxes until they are released for delivery or re-export.
  4. Dangerous Goods (DG): Substances or articles that pose a risk to health, property, or the environment. Transportation of dangerous goods via air requires compliance with strict regulations to ensure proper handling, packaging, labeling, and documentation.
  5. Freight Forwarder: A company that specializes in arranging the transportation of goods on behalf of shippers. Freight forwarders manage documentation, coordinate shipments, negotiate rates, and provide related logistics services.
  6. General Sales Agent (GSA): An independent sales agent appointed by an airline to represent it in a particular market or region. The GSA is for marketing, selling cargo space, and providing customer support on behalf of the airline.
  7. IATA (International Air Transport Association): A global trade association representing airlines worldwide. IATA develops standards, provides services, and advocates for the aviation industry’s interests, including air cargo operations.
  8. Non-Vessel Operating Common Carrier (NVOCC): A company or freight forwarder that consolidates small shipments from multiple shippers and books them as a single large shipment with an airline. NVOCCs issue their own house air waybills and handle documentation, consolidation, and deconsolidation at origin and destination.
  9. Perishable Goods: Goods that are prone to spoilage or deterioration over time, such as fresh produce, flowers, or pharmaceuticals. Transporting perishable goods by air ensures and temperature control to maintain product quality.
  10. Pre-Carriage: The inland transportation of goods by road or rail from the shipper’s location in China to the airport of departure for an international flight. Pre-carriage is typically handled by truck companies or logistics providers.
  11. Transit Time: The time required for goods to travel from the port of loading in China to the destination airport of discharge. Transit time includes the duration of the flight as well as any transshipment or layover periods.
  12. Unit Load Device (ULD): Specialized containers or pallets used to store and transport cargo on aircraft. ULDs ensure efficient use of space and facilitate handling and loading processes.
  13. All-Cargo Aircraft: Aircraft designed specifically for transporting cargo rather than passengers. All-cargo aircraft have larger cargo holds and no seating area, optimized for maximum freight capacity.
  14. Consignor: The party or individual who sends or delivers goods to be transported by air. Also known as the shipper, the consignor is responsible for properly packing and labeling the goods for air transport.
  15. Consolidation: The process of combining multiple smaller shipments into a single, larger shipment before air transport. Consolidation enables cost savings and better utilization of cargo space.
  16. Flight Manifest: A document that lists all the cargo and associated details loaded onto an aircraft for a specific flight. The flight manifest serves as an essential record for the airline, customs authorities, and other stakeholders.
  17. Flight: A non-stop flight that travels directly from the departure airport in China to the destination airport without any intermediate stops or layovers.
  18. Air Charter: Hiring an entire aircraft for exclusive use, either by an individual or a company. Air charters offer flexibility in terms of scheduling, capacity, and destinations.
  19. ULD Transfer: The process of transferring Unit Load Devices between aircraft during transshipment or layover periods in order to reach the final destination.
  20. HAWB (House Air Waybill): In cases where an NVOCC issues its own air waybills, the HAWB represents the master cargo document that covers multiple house shipments consolidated by the NVOCC.

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