Airfreight Consolidation as Option

Airfreight is usually the preferred method of shipping where an item is very small or there is an urgency connected to the goods. In air freight there are various options available to ensure cargo is moved optimally looking at cost versus speed.

If an item is red hot urgent, one will move this as express, which usually means that cargo flies on the first available flight. For this option one pays a premium, as the cargo will receive a preference over other air freight shipments. This, however does not always mean that cargo is 100% guaranteed to fly, as passengers and their baggage will always have preference on a flight.

The second option is when goods are urgent, but a company may not want to pay an express rate. Here cargo may be sent as a direct shipment, whereby a shipment is booked on a flight should space be available. Here the cargo will move when space allows and if one is lucky, it flies as booked or it may miss a flight or two before it flies out.

The third option is where a consolidation (Consol) service is offered. Here agents usually have slot bookings with certain airlines on specific flights during the week, with specific weight allocation.  The agent will then combine (consolidate) multiple packages from different suppliers, to maximize the allocated space. If an agent has a consol leaving on a Wednesday as example, the consol will have a “cut off day” to allow all cargo that has been collected from suppliers since the last consol was closed, to be prepared for the flight. This is usually the day before, or the day of the flight.

On a consolidation, the base freight rate is known and stable for a period. The consol rate is generally the most cost effective in air freight. Clients can plan around the consolidation service to ensure they get their timing right (to make the weekly flights), and at the same time have a cost-effective air service.

Clients would generally work on a 7–9-day lead time, door to door, depending on if the consol is from the USA, Europe, or the East.

Ziegler South Africa operates consolidations on the following routes:

Ex Europe

Germany – Frankfurt

Netherlands – Amsterdam

Belgium – Brussels

United Kingdom – London Heathrow

France – Toulouse and Charles De Gaulle


Ex U.S.A




Los Angeles


Ex China

Hong Kong



If this is an option you would like to explore, please contact your controller or Key Accounts Manager.