From booking to takeoff: breaking down air charter costs
In business, time equals money. And in situations where every minute means lost revenue, you need a shipping solution that can offer speed, reliability and flexibility. That’s why air charter is a go-to option for businesses that need to ship critical freight in record time.
But because air charter is a specialized service, the benefits come at a cost. Before booking, it’s important to understand what goes into the price of the aircraft and how to determine if you should make the investment for your shipment. Ultimately, if you’ll lose more money than you’ll spend, the answer is yes.
How air charter pricing works
Though your quote will likely include all known costs rather than an itemized list, there are several factors that affect how much it costs to charter a cargo plane.
Because the size of the aircraft determines everything from how much fuel it needs to how many crew members are required, it plays the biggest role in how much you’ll pay for air charter. The type of plane you need will depend on the weight, dimensions and handling requirements of your freight. Keep in mind that larger shipments may not fit through the door of a smaller plane even if the weight is acceptable.
Once you know what type of plane works, you’ll need to know what you can actually book and where it’s currently located. The farther away a plane is, the farther it will have to travel before it can reach the airport for pickup. Because of this, sometimes a larger plane is used simply because it’s closer and will allow the shipment to be delivered on time.
Each plane and airport will have different fees associated with them. These range from standard costs like fuel and the pilot/crew to fees for landing at high-traffic airports and any additional services like an onboard courier.
Understanding the ROI
Though air charter is not an everyday shipping solution, it can play a critical role in time-sensitive supply chains. Whether you’re shipping lifesaving vaccines or important manufacturing parts, deciding if air charter is worth the investment really comes down to the urgency of your freight and whether the cost of failure outweighs the cost of the shipment.
Tips for managing your freight budget
If you’re looking to keep costs under control, there are two main tips you want to follow:
- Be sure
- Be ready
Be sure refers to knowing that air charter is what you need and knowing exactly what you’re shipping. If you’re certain you’ll need air charter, book it as soon as possible to ensure you get the aircraft. But don’t book unless you’re absolutely sure — canceling an air charter can cost up to 50% of the cost of the flight depending on where the aircraft is at the time the shipment is canceled.
And only move what you need! Shipping only what’s required will help you get the smallest aircraft possible, which can significantly reduce how much you’re spending. Other freight may be able to move on a different mode while your most critical pieces are flown to their destination.
Be ready means doing everything you can to meet the carrier’s deadlines. Once the flight is secured, detention charges can get very expensive very quickly. Make sure to have the proper paperwork and the freight ready for pickup to avoid any unexpected charges.
ArcBest air charter services are ready when you need them
When time is of the essence, ArcBest is the reliable partner you need. With domestic and international air charter options and the ability to provide quotes in as little as 20 minutes, we make it easy to quickly find a solution that gets your freight moving. Learn more about our air charter services.