GlossaryAir Freight Glossary – International Airfreight terms

Air Freight Glossary – International Airfreight terms


ACL: Allowable Cabin Load. The maximum payload (cargo capacity) of an airplane through a certain route and under certain specific operation conditions. 

Act of God: also Force majeure. A situation where goods are damaged by forces beyond human control, e.g., natural disasters like floods and earthquakes. 

Advance Arrangement: The contact between shipper and carrier prior to shipping process to determine appropriate handling and available aircraft. 

AEV: Articles of Extraordinary Value. Commodities that are identified as goods of high value 

Agent: An individual or organization approved to act in place of another person or organization. 

Airfreight: transporting goods by air using passenger or cargo aircraft. 

Airport to Airport: Airfreight service for moving goods from the airport of origin to the destination airport without pickup and delivery services. 

ATA: Actual Time of Arrival, Airport-To-Airport. 

ATD: Actual Time of Departure. 

AWB: Air Waybill. A non-negotiable document issued by a carrier after receiving a shipment showing important information about the shipment and delivery instructions. 


Bill of Lading: a negotiable document issued by an air freight carrier showing the cargo receipt for shipping. It is often abbreviated as BOL, BoL, BL, or B/L. 

Bonded Warehouse: Premises for storing or manufacturing goods while deferring payment of duty until the goods are released, or customs duties are paid. 

Break Bulk (B/B): The process of disassembling or unpacking a consolidated shipment for delivery to customers or reshipping. 

Bulk Cargo: Loose air cargo not loaded in aircraft containers or pallets.  

Bulk Cargo Carts: Mobile vehicles that transfer bulk cargo from the aircraft to handling terminals or other airports. 



Cargo: also Goods. Any property moved from one place to another, excluding mail and passenger luggage. 

Cargo Aircraft: also Freighter, or All-cargo Aircraft. A specialized airplane for carrying cargo in its main and lower decks. 

Cargo Agent: An agent assigned by an airline and paid in commission to solicit and process international airfreight for shipments. 

Cargo Loader: Mobile equipment for loading and unloading ULDs on aircraft. 

Carnet: A document allowing the holder to transport goods into a foreign country for exhibition or demonstration purposes without paying the required import duties 

Carriage: Movement of goods by air. 

Carrier: An individual or business that transports goods for other individuals and/or businesses. A carrier is liable for goods lost or damaged during transportation. 

Cartage Agent: Ground operator that provides pickup and delivery services in locations not served directly by air carriers 

Chargeable Weight: A weight of a shipment used to determine the corresponding air freight charges. 

Charges Collect: also Freight Collect, or Charges Forward. Charges for pickup and delivery transport collect from the consignee. 

Charter Service: A temporary hiring of an aircraft to transport passengers and cargo. 

COD: Collect On Delivery. The transportation service whereby the purchase price of goods is paid to the carrier upon delivery by the receiver of the goods. 

COMAT: Company-Owned Material. The property of the airline that is carried as cargo on its airplane. 

Combo Aircraft: also Combi Aircraft. An airplane designed to hold passengers and cargo in its main deck. 

Commercial Invoice: A document describing a shipment and its corresponding value 

Commodity: Description of a shipment of goods. 

Compartment: A space in an airplane for holding cargo. 

Conditions of Carriage: The terms and conditions of a carrier concerning Carriage. 

Conditions of Contract: The terms and conditions indicated on the AWB or the shipper’s consent regarding the use of shipment records. 

Consignee: The recipient of the transported goods as stated on the AWB or shipment record 

Consignment: Delivery of goods from an exporter (or Consignor) to an agent (or consignee). The agent sells the goods for a commission, and the exporter retains ownership until the sale of the goods. 

Consignor: The party contracting with the carrier to transport goods, usually the shipper. 

Consolidation: Assembling separate goods into one shipment under one AWB from place to place. 

Container Rate: The rate of transporting an entire container or ULD at a fixed price irrespective of its content(s) weight. 

Contoured ULD: A ULD designed or modified to fit the hold of an airplane to make use of all the available space. 

Convertible Aircraft: An aircraft which can be repurposed from all-passenger to all-cargo, or with various arrangements of passenger and cargo spaces 

Courier: An attendant accompanying cargo shipments (s), such as a groom or vet for rare horses or other live animals. 

Customs: The government authority/service responsible for enforcing customs laws and collecting import and export duties imposed by a country. 

Customs Broker: An individual or company licensed by the government of a country to perform Customs business transactions on behalf of other individuals or companies. These include entry and valuation of goods and payment of Customs duties. 

Customs Clearance: Release of cargo by Customs subject to the presentation of required documents and payment of imposed duties. 

Customs Invoice: A document for verifying and describing a shipment of goods and showing relevant information about the goods. 

CWT: Hundredweight (100 pounds). The standard unit for determining cargo rates, other than rates for specified containers.  


Damage: Partial or complete harm to shipment or part of a shipment. 

Dangerous Goods: Goods classified by the UN and IATA as potentially harmful to air transport health, safety, and property. 

DDP: Delivery Duty Paid. A delivery agreement in which the seller is liable for all potential risks and costs until the buyer receives the cargo at the destination. 

DDU: Delivery Duty Unpaid. A delivery agreement in which the buyer bears all the costs for importing the goods.  

Declared Value for Carriage: The value of goods declared by the shipper for determining charges or liable costs in the event of loss or damage of goods 

Declared Value for Customs: The selling price of contents of a shipment or cost of replacement in the case of non-resale goods 

Deferred Air Freight: Goods transported at lower service level and lower charge than in standard air freight 

Deferred Rate: A lower rate than standard shipping rate, often in less than standard level if air freight service 

Demurrage: Holding container(s) of a carrier beyond an allotted time period for loading and unloading of shipment units, usually accompanied by accruing charges 

Destination: The final point of delivered goods, usually into the hands of a customer or end user 

DGR: Dangerous Goods Regulations. Guidelines for packaging, transporting and dealing with dangerous goods. 

Dimension: The measured specifications of a shipment to calculate charges.  

Door to Door (or Dock to Dock): A shipping arrangement that ensures goods move from sender to customer. 

Drawback: Whole or partial refund of customs duties imposed on imported goods that are later exported 

Duty: Import tax levied on goods by Customs based on weight, quantity, value, or the combination of these factors. 


EDI: Electronic Data Interchange. A computerized system for communicating relevant shipment information. 

EDIFACT: Electronic Data Interchange For Administration, Commerce, and Transport. 

ETA: Estimated Time of Arrival. 

ETD: Estimated Time of Departure. 

Exception Ratings: Higher than normal rates set for commodities that require special handling 

Export License: also Export Permit. A document permitting the exportation of certain goods to designated countries.  

Express: Small parcels usually shipped overnight. 



Foreign Trade Zone: also Free Trade Zone. A port of entry for non-prohibited goods without the payment of customs duty. 

Free Domicile: A situation whereby the shipper pays all the transportation charges and any imposed duties and/or taxes. 

Freight: Goods, items, or commodities transported by air. Also, the amount paid for this form of transport. 

Freight Carriage…paid to…: Payment for the delivery of goods to a named destination. 

Freight Carriage…and Insurance paid to…: Payment for the delivery of goods to a named destination, with added insurance premium in the case of loss of or damage to goods. 

Freighter: see Cargo Aircraft. 

Freight Forwarder: also Forwarder, Forwarding Agent. An individual or company appointed by a shipper to process and arrange the transport and delivery of shipment. 

FTL: Full Truck Load. Shipment designed to fill standard freight containers. 



Gateway: Major airport or point of customs clearance 

General Cargo: All goods in the aircraft except special cargo 

GO: General Order. Any goods not received within a specified time of the carrier’s entry that is stored at the risk and expense of the importer. 

Gross Weight: The entire shipment weight, this include weights of the container and packaging material. 



Handling: The process of preparing and transporting air cargo. 

Harmonized System: A system of classifying goods in international trade 

HAWB: House Air Waybill. A document presented by a freight forwarder to a carrier after receiving a  shipment. 

High Capacity Aircraft: also Wide-bodied Aircraft. An aircraft suitable for heavy-duty air freight. 



IATA: International Air Transport Association. 

IATA Cargo Agent: An IATA-approved forwarder/broker capable of performing operations related to air freight. 

IATA Designator: Two-character IATA identification of any airline used in air waybills, reservations, tickets, tariffs, and timetables. 

ICAO: International Civil Aviation Organization.  

Import License: also Import Permit. A document required and issued by some countries for conducting customs clearance and approving imported goods. 

Import Restrictions: Control measures on the importation of goods, including imposing tariffs and duties and prohibiting selected categories of goods. 

In Bond: Movement of cargo without customs clearance at the airport to an inland Customs point for clearance. 

Incoterms: Codes maintained by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) as regards incurred costs in foreign trade contracts 

Insurance Certificate: Certificate of assurance covering loss or damage of transported goods. 

Integrated Carrier: A carrier that performs door-to-door cargo transport with its own airplanes and trucks, usually under a single AWB 

Interline Carriage: also Interline. Transport of goods across different routes by multiple air carriers. 

Intermediate Consignee: A forwarding agent, bank, or any other intermediary that acts as an agent in a foreign country to deliver goods to an exporter, purchaser, or ultimate consignee. 

Intermodal: Transport of goods via multiple means, i.e., ship, airplane, overland, and railway 

Intermodal Capability: Ability of a shipment to be moved across various modes of transport. 

Intermodal Container: Shipping container designed to fit multiple modes of transport 

Internal Fittings: A means of securing air cargo inside a container. 

ISO: International Standards Organization. 



JIT: Just In Time. The immediate movement and delivery of raw material, components, parts, and work-in-progress when needed instead of occupying costly warehouse space. 



Lay Order: The period during which a shipment may remain unloaded beyond the period of demurrage without any action taken or implied costs. 

LD3: Lower Deck type 3 container. The most common type of shipping container used in passenger aircraft. 

Loading Gauge: also Template. A framework for checking and ensuring a pallet load fits in the cargo hold of an airplane. 

Loose cargo: also Loose Shipment. Air cargo loaded as separate packages and delivered in separate pieces to the destination.   

Lower deck: also Belly, Lower Hold, or Lower Lobe. The section below the Main Deck in an aircraft. 

Lower Deck Container/Pallet: A ULD designed to fit the lower deck of an airplane. 

LTL: Less than Truck Load. A shipment that is not enough to fill up a standard shipping container. 



Main Deck: The area in an aircraft that holds the major portion of air cargo 

Main Deck Container/Pallet: A ULD that occupies the main deck. 

Maximum Gross Payload: The maximum weight allowed and carried on an airplane. 

MAWB: Master Air Waybill. A document issued by a carrier  



NCV: No Customs Value. Goods having no declared value on the AWB for Customs purposes. 

Net Weight: The actual weight of a shipment, excluding its packaging. 

No Show Cargo: Reserved cargo space that is neither used nor canceled. 

NVD: No Value Declared for Carriage. Goods having no value declared to determine charges or limit of liability costs in the event of loss or damage. 



Origin: The starting point of a shipment. 



Pallet: A platform with specific dimensions for assembling and securing goods prior to loading on an airplane 

Pallet Net: Webbing or rope material for securing and restraining a pallet load. 

Part Shipment: A shipment and transported and delivered in multiple parts. 

Passenger Aircraft: An airplane designed to carry passengers in the main (or upper) deck and hold cargo in the lower compartment. 

POD: Proof of Delivery, Port of Discharge. 

Pro Forma Invoice: An invoice sent prior to the supply of goods. 



Rate: The amount charged per unit volume of goods. 

Rerouting: Transporting goods through an alternate route different from the one specified on the AWB. 

Reservation: also Booking. 

Restricted Articles: Special cargo form of dangerous goods. 

RFS: Road Feeder Service. Overland transportation arranged by a carrier to/from a gateway to another airport. 

Routing: The air freight route as originally stated in the AWB or shipment record.  



Shipment: Good(s) handed over to a carrier by a shipper and moved on one AWB or shipment record to a designated address. 

Shipper: also Consignor. The party who originates the shipment of goods, usually by purchase for exportation.  

Shipping Mark: The letters, numbers, or other symbols posted on the outside of cargo for identification purposes. 

Shipping Weight: The gross weight of shipment (in kilograms). 

Short-shipped: Cargo stated in the airplane manifest but not loaded into the aircraft.  

Special Cargo: Shipment requiring special handling procedures. 

STA/STD: Scheduled Time of Arrival/Departure. 

Surcharge: Additional or extra charges. 



TACT: The Air Cargo Tariff. Rules, regulations, and rates published for international air shipments. 

Tare Weight: The weight of a ULD and tie-down materials excluding the weight of the enclosed goods. 

Tariff: The applicable rates, charges, and regulations of an air carrier for the movement of goods. 

Terminals: The opposite ends of a carrier line, usually airports. 

Tracing/Tracking: A system of following a shipment from origin to destination 

Transfer Cargo: Air cargo transported to a point by one carrier and to another point by another carrier.  

Transit: An intermediary stopping point en route where cargo stays onboard.  

Transshipment: Moving air freight through an intermediate country before arriving at the country of final destination. 



ULD: Unit Load Device. Any type of container, a container with integral pallet, aircraft container, or aircraft pallet to transport goods on an aircraft. 

Ultimate Consignee: The recipient, such as an individual or business, of transported goods for the proposed end-use or consumption 



VAL: Valuable Cargo. Specified high-value shipments that require advance arrangement and special handling procedures 

Value for Customs Purposes Only: Value of shipment determined by the manufacturer or stated by the importer, but not according to Customs evaluation. 



Weight Charge: Charges calculated based on the amount of weight carried by aircraft. 

Without Reserve: The ability of a shipper’s agent or representative to decide on behalf of the represented party. 



XPS: Priority Small Package. 



3PL: Third-Party Logistics provider 

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