As more and more online companies ship international via air cargo, the question of chargeable weight - especially as it relates to volumetric pricing - can become significant unknown costs.   While all shipments are subject to volume pricing, the affect on air - versus surface - is much more significant.      


Due to international  online e-commerce orders, an increasing percentage of cargo volume from China and Europe to Canada and the US  is sent via air cargo.   

Online merchants are increasingly fulfilling orders in Europe and Asia for direct shipping to the USA to take advantage of duty free (section 321)  parcel clearance.   


Jet Worldwide assists on-line merchants build secure low cost parcel clearing supply chains to the USA and Canada.


Higher unit value of airfreight:

Airfreight shipments from China and Europe to North America  tend be more valuable (as measured by value per kg).   In the case of online e-commerce, the transaction price is often the retail price of the single transaction versus the wholesale unit costs of a bulk shipment.

Density of Air Cargo

Although air freight is traditionally used for high value and high density cargo, the growth of online orders is including more low density cargo that can have a big impact on the per parcel cost.   For most carriers, parcel volume is calculated by assigning a minimum weight per cubic unit ( expressed in cubic inches or centimeters).   

For air and ocean  freight, the most often used volume unit of measure is cubic meters.   


“Chargeable weight/ billable”: Weight versus Volume


An important item to consider is the impact of the size of a shipment versus its weight. Space on an aircraft is considered as much a cost as the actual weight of the shipment.

Large “low density” cargo is charged at “volume weight” rather than actual weight.

As is the case for all airfreight shipments, carriers have developed formulas for equating the size of a shipment (cubic units) with the weight of the shipment (Kilograms). In the case of a large “low density” shipment, the “volume weight” will be charged (rather than the actual weight).

CBM = Cubic Meters

The term CBM is used often in shipping documents and rate quotes.

Steps to determine volume weight:

  1. Take the Length, Width and Height of the shipment in meters (or in centimetres and divide by 100).
  2. Multiply the Length x Width x Height = size in cubic meters
  3. Multiply the cubic meters (obtained in step 2) by the “volume factor” (provided by the carrier)


Book a shipment, get a quote.... or get some answers from Jet's experts! Contact our team for a confidential review on sending shipments from China, UK, EU to Canada and the US


Rates from your Chinese supplier vs. airfreight quote from China, UK, EU to Canada with Jet

We get many requests from Canadian and American companies whose international supplier manages the shipping but they want to confirm they have a competitive cost.  Some companies prefer to have control of the logistics costs and processes and purchase the items under EXW terms.

  • Incoterm: EXW?
  • Many international transactions  have the shipping term: EXW which essentially means that the  buyer has to arrange for transport from China to Canada.
  • EXW (Ex Works) is an international trade term which means all other transportation costs and risks are assumed by the buyer

Using Jet Worldwide, we manage the shipping on your behalf with complete transparency you can trust.

jet world wide international parcel delivery specialists




Written by Timothy Byrnes