Chapter 10: Air Freight from China: The Complete Guide
China is one of the largest and fastest growing economies in the world.
The country is known to be a manufacturing and assembling hub for electronic components, plastic goods, furniture, computer products, apparels, footwear, home appliances, etc.
I mean there are so many things one can import from China and this I must say has led to a great deal of expansion in its freight industries mainly air freight.
You may wonder why just air freight when China is surrounded by so many seaports and has good roads?
Well, air freight has become a favorite mode of shipping from China for numerous reasons.
Mostly, because it is fast, reliable and convenient to ship goods via air compared to other known freight shipping methods.
So, if you want to successfully and efficiently ship goods from China, you need to understand a few basics.
These include top airports in China and their advantages, restricted items on air freight from China, among other things that’ll you will learn in this chapter.
So keep reading…
Airports – a critical element to the efficient transportation of goods to the global market.
Airports do play a critical role in the whole freight shipping process.
Your choice of the airport will be detriment how quick, and convenient your goods can be shipped to your preferred destination.
In China, there are so many airports.
Air cargo transportation in China has experienced a tremendous boom in the recent past.
The country’s airports keep enlarging in size, and this is just to help meet the ever-rising air freight shipping demands.
Well, for China airports, here are the top 10 you may consider using for air freight.
1. Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK)
Situated in Beijing, China, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beijing_Capital_International_AirportBeijing International Airport is one of the most important international airports in China, Asia and the world as a whole.
Not surprisingly, it is the premier airport in China.
Beijing Capital International Airport
The airport is built in the shape of a dragon, and it covers an area of 1,480 hectares of land.
It also provides access to downtown of the city.
So if you are coursing goods from these regions, then Beijing international airport would be your best port of departure.
The airport’s popularity I must say is primarily attributed to the fact that it takes on a lot of domestic as well as international flights.
Besides that, it is known to host major air freight hubs.
This makes it a popular and preferred port of departure for shippers transporting goods from China to international destinations.
Take note that Beijing international airport takes control of over 15 different cargo airlines and more than 200 destinations, both domestic and international.
It also has three different terminals.
Situated on the island of Chek Lap Kok, this airport is Hong Kong’s main point of entry.
The airport is home to some of the world’s largest cargo airlines including UPS, Cathay Pacific, Air Hong Kong, Dragon air, and Hong Kong airlines.
Hong Kong International Airport
The airport was opened in 1998 and is operated by the Airport Authority Hong Kong round the clock.
Note that Hong Kong international airport receives flights from 90 airlines and is the primary entry for a destination in mainland China and other parts of Asia.
This airport is also the among the top air cargo airports in the world with a capacity of handling about 4.5 million tonnes of freight.
Hong Kong international airport employs more than 60,000 workers.
This only assures you that here, you will get only the best services when shipping goods internationally.
Situated in one of China largest and busy provinces, Guangzhou Baiyun international airport will ship your goods to any destination of your choice across the globe.
The airport is home to some of the most recognized cargo airlines including FedEx, and China airlines.
Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport
In fact, increase in demand made led to the expansion of the airport from the old Baiyun airport to the now acclaimed 19th busiest cargo airports in the world.
Following this expansion, FedEx signed a contract with the airport to move its Asia-pacific hub from Subic Bay international airport, the Philippines to Baiyun airport.
You all know that FedEx is one of the airlines that can access most destinations around the globe, however intricate.
With a hub at the Baiyun airport, FedEx has made it easy for people targeting far to reach markets to import goods from China with ease and utmost efficiency.
Being the world’s 19th busiest cargo airports, the new Baiyun international airport has a cargo handling capacity of 1 million tonnes (by 2017).
This capacity is projected to rise to 2.5 million tonnes by 2020.
It is the 3rd busiest cargo airport in the world and a major aviation hub of China.
The airport is also the lifeline for DHL aviation air, UPS, FedEx express, air china, china southern airlines and many other airlines.
Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG)
The airport has two terminals, serving over 200 destinations, with an ability to handle 6 million tonnes of cargo.
The sky track ranked 3rd busiest cargo airport in the world has been a satisfying air freight service provider over the years.
With just being 30 km east of the city center, the Shanghai Pudong international airport provides feasible access to the city. So you don’t have to worry about getting your goods to the airport for transportation.
Shanghai Hongqiao is one of the two international airports of Shanghai.
It is situated near the town of Hongqiao in Changning district of China.
Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport (SHA)
Note that this airport is located 13 km west of downtown which is much closer to the city center than the Shanghai Pudong airport.
Nonetheless, it mostly serves domestic and regional flights with limited international flights.
So importing goods from China through this airport might be great if you are sourcing the products from the city center and need easy access.
However, you may want to factor in the fact that it operates limited international flights.
This means that getting your goods to destinations beyond China and Asia may be a problem.
Chengdu international airport is one of the top airports in China.
It is located about 16 kilometers (10 min) southwest of downtown Chengdu to the north of Shuangilu District of China.
Chengdu Shuangilu International Airport (CTU)
The airport was one of the 30 busiest airports in the world in 2015 and at one point 5th busiest regarding cargo throughput in China.
Shuangilu airport was opened in 1938 as a military airfield and later in 1956 as an airport under the civil aviation administration of China.
Note that the Chengdu shuangilu international airport is one of the two main hubs for air china.
It is also a hub for China Southern airlines, china eastern airlines, Chengdu Airlines, Shenzhen airlines among others.
Accessing the airport from downtown Chengdu is easy thanks to the airport’s expressway, the Chengdu-Mianyang high-speed railway, and Chengdu metro (rapid transit systems) line 10.
The Shenzhen Bao’an international airport formerly known as Shenzhen Huangtian international airport serves mainland China, Trans Asian, transpacific, trans-Atlantic and European markets.
It is among the three largest and busiest airports hubs that serve the Pearl River Delta which is an urbanized area in southern China.
This it does alongside the Hong Kong and Guangzhou Baiyun international airports.
The Shenzhen Baoan international airport serves as a hub for China Southern and Hainan cargo airlines.
It also serves as an Asian-pacific cargo hub for United Pacific Service (UPS) airlines.
The airport is conveniently located on the east bank of the Pearl River and 32 km North West of the city center.
It has a total area of 10.8 km2 with 3200m long and 45 m wide runway.
The Bao’an international airport by 2014 was china’s 4th busiest and the world’s 24th busiest airport regarding cargo traffic.
In 2014 alone, Bao’an airport had transported 947,150 tonnes of freight by September.
This is one of the easiest airports to access in China thanks to the cross-border buses that serves destinations across Hong Kong, the new territories, and Kowloon.
Also, there is a ferry that is available to outer harbor ferry terminal and Taipa ferry terminal in Macau.
It also connects to the Skypier ferry terminal at Hong Kong international airport. Note these are pretty fast ferries.
There is also a metro/rail station that serves destinations across Baoan, Nanshan, Futian, Fusion, Shajing, Song Gang, and Bitou.
Located in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province of China, this airport is one of the two national gateway hubs of China.
The airport is among the top 50 busiest airports in the world regarding traffic.
The airport is situated 24.5 km northeast of the city center; it has three runaways with the third one being single a runaway at Wujiaba.
Kunming Shangshui Anternational Airport (KMG)
The advantage of using Kunming airport is the fact that it has numerous ground transportation facilities.
The airport is connected to Kunming by a 13km toll highway plus a provincial S101 road.
There are also several bus services connecting the airport from the city center.
Xi’an Xianyang international airport began operations in 191 and is the primary airport serving Xian the capital of Shaanxi province of China.
The airport is operated by China west airport group and serves as a hub for China Eastern, china southern, Shanghai and joy air airlines among others.
It also serves as a focus city of Hainan airlines.
The Xianyang airport has three terminals and two runway with the second runaway being able to handle the Airbus A380.
Xianyang airport is one of the largest and busiest airports in the nation regarding cargo traffic.
It currently has a cargo capacity handling of about 260,000 Tonnes with an ability to handle over 400000 tonnes of freight by 2020.
Hangzhou Xiaoshan international airport has over 50 airlines serving over 150 destinations across the globe.
The total annual cargo handling capacity of this 6th busiest airport in China is about 110,000 tonnes.
Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport (HGH)
The airport is located strategically 27 km east of Hangzhou one of China largest shopping hubs.
The best part is that is hosts one of the world’s largest cargo airlines like air china, chin southern, china eastern, Hainan, and Xiamen Airlines.
Hangzhou Xiaoshan international airport as guarantees you transportation to destinations across east and South East Asia, Africa, and Europe.
Prohibited and Restricted Items when Air Shipping from China
Before you ship items from China by air, you need to know that there are some goods which the country does not allow to ship by aircraft.
Examples of prohibited products
Knowing this will help you avoid unnecessary complications and altercations with Chinese shipping authorities.
So what are these items that you can’t ship by air from China?
- Items with battery
- Goods with oil or liquid
- Magnetic items
- Audio accessories and equipment
- Motorized parts and items
- Flammable goods
- Biochemical products
- Untanned hides
Incoterms used in Air Shipping
I bet most of you have never heard or even had the chance the chance to use this word before.
Well, now you that you hear about it, what does it mean?
And, what does it entail?
The term incoterms may sound too complicated, but in reality, it is not.
It is just a term they use in the world of trade to specify the transportation of goods from one port to another.
These are terms that also specify who will be responsible for the cargo at each point of transit.
Photo Credits: Prime Air
Here are some of the terms you should expect when importing from China by air;
- DAP (delivery at the place). This means that your shipment will be shipped from the supplier in China to a destination that you contract.
- FCA (freecarrier). This simply means that goods will be only be unloaded at a destination accessible to the carrier, or shipping agent. It does not include loading.
- CFR (cost and freight). Here the supplier has the responsibility of transporting the goods from the supply point to your contracted destination port.
Note that the supplier at this point is only responsible for the goods until they arrive at the destination.
He/she is not further responsible for clearance of goods.
This responsibility shifts to you the buyer once the goods arrive at your port of destination.
- CIF (cost, insurance, and freight). This is pretty similar to CFR terms only that within CIF, the supplier is also responsible for insuring the goods during transit.
- EXW (Ex-Works and named the place of delivering). This term puts you responsible for the whole shipping process.
Once you agree to EXW terms, you immediately take up the responsibility of loading goods from the supplier’s point.
You are also responsible for transporting, clearance and unloading of the goods at the port of destination.
With EXW, you the buyer liable for the transportation costs and risk from the supplier in China to your preferred port of destination.
- DDP (delivered duty paid and named the place of destination). DDP has terms that are somewhat contrary to EXW.
Here your supplier assumes all costs, risks, and responsibility of loading, transporting, clearance and unloading of goods.
There are many other incoterms that you’ll come across when air shipping from China.
The best thing to do is to familiarize yourself with most if not each one of them.
This way, you’ll be able to account for every dime you pay when shipping goods from China.
Knowing and understanding these incoterms will help you avoid costs that are not meant to be yours.
Documents you need when Shipping from China
This is another element that you must be careful with when you import any items from China by air.
Documentation is very critical and necessary for the successful shipping of goods by air.
That said, here’s what you’ll need;
- Airway bill; we already discussed this earlier in the earlier. But just for the sake, an airway bill is a document made out by or on behalf of the shipper.
It acts as proof of your air freight shipping contract, and it details all costs you’ve incurred in the shipping process.
- Commercial invoice; much like any other invoice, a commercial invoice in air shipping details the contents of your cargo.
The supplier often provides this invoice, and it lists the products names, specifications, quantity, the price of each unit, total amount and many more.
A commercial invoice you confirm that the goods you receive are what you paid for.
Also, it is critical for the quick and smooth clearance of cargo at customs and for payment of duty and tax for when goods arrive at the destination port.
- Packing list; a packing list is a packing list. Wait! Does that even make sense?
Well, a packing list in air freight refers to a list of details of the cargo you intend to ship.
It is more of a supplementary document of a commercial invoice.
This document primarily details the form of packaging used.
These include the packaging method, material, quantity, specification and cargo dimensions.
There is a lot to learn when shipping goods from China.
These, however, are the four critical elements you need to be familiar with for the successful air freight shipping from China.