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Air Freight versus Road Freight: Weighing Up The Pros and Cons

Four main modes of transport exist within the transport industry: Road. Air, Rail, and Sea. These options are normally dependent on the origin and destination. When sending your freight from A to B domestically, the most common choice is normally between Road and Air.

So, what factors do you need to consider when deciding on which mode to use?

Your decision can come down to more than simply price, let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of both modes.

Road Freight


Road services are usually the most economical of the two modes, so if there isn’t a deadline to consider it can be the obvious choice. There are fewer restrictions when sending via Road compared to Air (e.g. Dangerous Goods) and Road can accommodate a much greater range of freight types.

Road services have a more accessible network as well, since not every point of origin has an airport and for some locations (E.g. adjacent Capital cities) the Road network can be just as fast as Air.


If large distances are involved then Road transit times can take longer, for example when sending from Sydney to Perth or Melbourne to Brisbane. Road services are also more susceptible to events such as flooding, road closures, and heavy traffic conditions that can cause delays en-route.

Other factors in transit can also delay delivery, such as a higher risk of traffic accidents and mechanical breakdowns.

Air Freight


The biggest and most obvious advantage of Air is normally the transit time. Air services are usually the fastest available and most direct. There are also less factors involved that can create delays once the freight is in transit.

In some circumstances, Air can actually be the cheaper option. Fixed satchel rates can be very competitive for sending small items nationwide.

Freight sent via Air can be the safer option for fragile items, as there is generally less manual handling resulting in less chance of any damage taking place.


Generally speaking, in most cases freight is more expensive to send via Air than Road. There are a greater number of restrictions on product types, such as Dangerous Goods, and the size and weight can also limit what can be sent due to aircraft restrictions.

There are less available routes via Air because the service relies on airports being present. Weather conditions can have a dramatic effect on the transit time and some weather conditions can even result in the closure of airports.

In conclusion, there are numerous advantages and disadvantages to both modes of transport. It is highly beneficial to consider all aspects involved and understand what factors might impact the journey of your consignment from pick up to delivery.


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