If you’re looking to ship international cargo, you have two main options: you can transport your goods by air freight or sea freight. But how do you know which one to go for? Exploring the factors that come into making the decision on how to ship can help you make the most viable choice for your business and cargo.


One of the most important aspects to consider when choosing how to ship your cargo is how long you have. Is it an urgent consignment? Are you transporting fresh or perishable goods?

If so, air freight is your best option. It’s usually a lot quicker than delivery by sea freight — a key factor in time-critical logistics. If you have a strict deadline, air freight can give you fast and reliable service. Although it depends on flight routes, handling, and holding times, if you choose air freight, you can usually expect your goods to arrive within ten days. At AMCO, we offer Next Flight Out (NFO) logistics and Hand Carry services to get urgent shipments to you as quickly as possible.

Sea freight, on the other hand, can take anything from one to 10 weeks, depending on distance and service availability, among other things. It’s also worth noting that port congestion can cause delays, making it more difficult to predict arrival times. As such, it’s a suitable option if you have more time to spare and don’t need to worry about deadlines.

It may also be your best bet if you have large or bulky shipments to distribute.

Type of Cargo

This brings us on to the next point: what cargo are you shipping? If it’s something that cannot be transported by land or sea, then air freight is your only option.

You may wish to transport fragile items by plane, as there are usually strict airport regulations and less handling along the journey.

However, if you’re transporting large cargo, then sea freight can offer more capacity and is suitable for bulky consignments. At AMCO, we offer a fully flexible sea freight service and can ship consignments in a range of container sizes, up to 45ft.

Equally, if you would like to ship by sea but your consignment is too small to fill a whole container or warrant the expense of shipping on its own, we have a solution. Less than Container Load (LCL) shipping allows you to combine your cargo with other shippers. By sharing, you can reduce your individual cost.

What’s Your Budget?

On the whole, sea freight is the most cost-effective way to transport large or bulky goods internationally.

However, both sea freight and air freight have different measurements for calculating cost. With air freight, capacity is usually limited by weight, whereas sea freight capacity goes by volume. As such, you may sometimes find that transporting by air may be the cheaper option for smaller, light shipments.

If you’re unsure which is the most affordable shipment method for you and your cargo, you can always contact the AMCO team. We can offer guidance and help you find the best solution.


Both air and sea freight are excellent choices for international logistics. They allow you to cover large distances and cross areas inaccessible to lorries and other road vehicles. The farther the distance, the longer the transit time. Therefore, if your goods need to cross particularly vast oceans and time constraints aren’t an issue, shipping by sea may be the best solution.

Environmental Impact

It’s an unfortunate truth that both sea freight and air freight services can have a negative impact on the environment. In general, transporting goods by air releases more CO2 into the atmosphere, which may impact your shipment decision.

At AMCO, we’re committed to reducing our environmental impact as much as possible in both our air and sea freight services. By ensuring we load cargo to the maximum where possible, we optimise efficiency. You can learn more on our Environmental Policy page.

Air Freight or Sea Freight?

Transporting by air and sea each has its pros and cons. Ultimately, the shipment method you choose comes down to what you’re transporting and how quickly you need it delivered. If you have an urgent consignment or a very small shipment, air freight is probably your best bet. However, if you have large or heavy goods to transport and aren’t in a hurry, sea freight can be a far more cost-effective method.

The AMCO team is here to make transportation and logistics as straightforward as possible. Feel free to get in touch if you have any queries.