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Packaging and labeling of air cargo: requirements

Preparing cargo for air transportation, it is imperative to focus on the quality of packaging.

The consignor shall be responsible for proper cargo packaging to ensure safe cargo transportation, standard handling and prevent damage to people, cargo (goods) and other property (TACT rules).

It is crucial to choose a high-quality container that corresponds to the contents. It must reliably protect the cargo from any accidental damage during handing and transportation. This is especially important for fragile cargo, which, in addition to the rigid outer packaging, must be appropriately labeled: have handling symbols “fragile”, “do not drop”, etc. Air cargo must have a good packing for its reliable placement and fastening onboard of the aircraft and safety during transportation, transshipment, transportation and warehousing (Federal Aviation Rules).

The packed cargo must not have sharp corners, protrusions and other things that could contaminate or damage the cargo space of aircraft and its equipment, as well as baggage and mail.

Metal, glass, ceramic, wooden, plastic and other packing for liquid and other goods to be transported by air must withstand excessive pressure depending on the altitude and temperature and ensure full protection against leakage, spillage or scattering of contents.

The packaging and labeling of dangerous cargo are subject to special requirements set out in IATA’s Dangerous Goods Regulations. The certified experts of the Aviation Transport Agency-Novosibirsk will help you in this matter after having a look at the MSDS. In addition, you can purchase a special UN certified packing from us, if required in accordance with the Rules.

The dimensions (length * width * height) and weight of each package are very important. Cargo dimensions must ensure its free loading (unloading) in the aircraft, placement in the cargo compartment and fastening, including on/in the load devices. The weight, dimensions or volume of cargo must not exceed the limits established for a certain type of aircraft, including when attaching them to/in the load devices (Federal Aviation Rules).

Thus, the maximum permissible dimensions and weight of the package directly depend on the type of aircraft for air freight (see more details here) and the technical equipment of the cargo terminal. We recommend that all our consignors, if possible, contact us for advice during packaging of goods. We will show you how to pack cargo in the best way in order to cut the cost of its transportation and handling at airports.

Correct and clear marking of cargo is also crucial for the process of cargo transportation.

Cargo marking means inscriptions, conventional signs and marks directly on the product, packing or on sewn, glued or tied labels (tags).

Each cargo unit must be clearly, legibly and reliably marked to identify the consignor and the consignee (TACT rules IATA).

When it comes to cross-border shipment, the text marks on packages should be duplicated in English. They should contain the following details:

  • full name of the consignor and consignee, their addresses and contact details as per the air waybill;

  • points of departure and destination;

  • package number and total number of packages.

Do not forget about the handling symbols and warnings prescribing the way of handling cargo during its warehousing, transshipment, transportation, use (“keep dry”, “protect from sunlight”, “fragile, handle with care”, “do not stack” etc.). Dangerous goods require special signs of stringent format, which are stamped under the supervision of a trained specialist.

In addition to the above general rules and standards, it is worth remembering that some countries set extra requirements for packages and labels on international cargo. In each case, these requirements must be studied and met by the consignor before export – in order to avoid delays and problems with customs, phytosanitary, quarantine and other control services of the destination, transit country. For example, the United States of America requires a fumigated seal on a wooden container of import cargo, otherwise such cargo is subject to re-export to the country of departure – at the expense of the consignor.

The ATA-Novosibirsk LLC is ready to provide customers with all necessary information. We will help you to properly prepare your cargo for transportation so that it will be delivered to your destination as quickly as possible and with no loss in quality.