Common air transport terms

Common air transport terms

◾ATA/ATD (Actual Time of Arrival / Actual Time of Departure)

Abbreviation for actual arrival/departure time.

◾Air Waybill (AWB) (Air Waybill)

A document issued by the shipper or in the name of the shipper is a proof of cargo transportation between the shipper and the carrier.

◾Unaccompanied luggage

(Baggage, Unaccompanied)

Baggage that is not carried but checked in, and baggage that is checked in.

◾Bonded Warehouse

In this type of warehouse, the goods can be stored without a deadline without paying import duties.

◾Bulk Cargo

Bulk cargo that has not been loaded on the pallet and loaded into the container.

◾CAO (Cargo for Freighter Only)

The abbreviation for "cargo aircraft only", which means that it can only be carried by cargo aircraft.

◾To freight (Charges Collect)

Specify the fees charged to the consignee on the air waybill.

◾Charges Prepaid

List the fees paid by the shipper on the air waybill.

◾Chargeable Weight

Used to calculate the weight of air freight. The chargeable weight can be the volumetric weight, or when the cargo is loaded in the vehicle, the total weight of the load minus the weight of the vehicle.

◾CIF (Cost, Insurance and Freight)

Refers to "cost, insurance and freight", that is, C&F plus the seller's purchase of insurance for loss and damage to the goods. The seller must sign a contract with the insurer and pay the premium.

◾Consignee (Consignee)

The person whose name is listed on the air waybill and who receives the goods delivered by the carrier.


The carrier receives one or more pieces of goods from the shipper at a certain time and place, and carries them to a certain destination with a single air waybill.


Equivalent to the shipper.

◾Consolidated cargo

(Consolidated Consignment)

A batch of goods made up of goods consigned by two or more shippers, and each shipper has signed an air freight contract with a consolidating agent.


A person or organization that gathers goods into a collection of goods.

COSAC (Community Systems for Air Cargo)

Abbreviation for "Gaozhi" computer system. It is the information and central logistics management computer system of Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminal Co., Ltd.


The government agency responsible for collecting import and export duties, suppressing smuggling and narcotics transactions and abuse (called Hong Kong Customs in Hong Kong)

◾Customs Code

The code added by the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department (C&ED) for a batch of goods to indicate the result of customs clearance or what kind of customs clearance action is required by the operator/consignee of the cargo station.

◾Customs Clearance

Customs procedures that must be completed for the transportation or collection of goods at the place of origin, transit and destination.

◾Dangerous Goods

Dangerous goods refer to items or substances that may pose a major threat to health, safety or property when transported by air.

◾Declared Value for Carriage

The value of the goods declared by the shipper to the carrier is to determine the freight rate or to set the carrier’s liability for loss, damage or delay.

◾Declared Value for Customs

Applicable to the value of goods declared to the customs for the purpose of verifying the amount of tariffs.


The fee paid by the carrier to the agent or other carriers, and then collected by the final carrier from the consignee. These fees are usually charged to pay the freight and miscellaneous fees paid by the agent or other carriers for the transportation of the goods.


(Electronic Data Interchange for Administration, Commerce and Transportation)

It is the abbreviation of "management, commerce and transportation electronic data interchange." EDIFACT is an international standard for message syntax for electronic data exchange.

◾Embargo (Embargo)

Refers to the carrier's refusal to carry any goods, any type or grade of goods on any route or part of the routes or accept transit to and from any region or place within a certain period of time.

◾ETA/ETD (Estimated Time of Arrival / Estimated Time of Departure)

Abbreviation for estimated arrival/departure time.

◾Export License

A government license document permitting the holder (shipper) to export designated commodities to a specific destination.

◾FIATA (Federation Internationale des Associations de Transitaires et Assimilées)

FIATA Licensee-Licensed to issue FIATA documents in Hong Kong [FIATA Bill of Lading (FBL) as Shipper and Forwarder’s Certificate of Receipt (FCR)] [FIATA Bill of Lading (FBL) "as Carrier" & Forwarders Certificate of Receipt (FCR)] member. Protected by freight forwarder liability insurance (minimum liability limit: US$250,000).

◾FOB (Free on Board)

Under the condition of "delivered on board", the goods are shipped by the seller at the port of shipment specified in the sales contract. The risk of cargo loss or damage is transferred to the buyer when the cargo passes the ship's rail (ie after leaving the dock and being placed on the ship), and the loading and unloading fee is paid by the seller.

◾FOB Airport (FOB Airport)

This term is similar to the general FOB term. After the seller delivers the goods to the air carrier at the departure airport, the risk of loss is transferred from the seller to the buyer.


An agent or company that provides services (such as receiving, transferring, or delivering) to guarantee and assist the transportation of goods.

◾Gross Weight

The total weight of the shipment, including the weight of the container and packaging materials.

◾HAFFA (Hong Kong Air Freight Forwarding Association)

The abbreviation of Hong Kong Freight Industry Association Limited (HAFFA), founded in 1966, is a non-profit organization that promotes, protects and develops Hong Kong's cargo transportation industry.

◾Freight forwarder air waybill (ie: freight house waybill) (HAWB) (House Air Waybill)

This document includes a single piece of cargo in the assembled cargo, which is issued by the consolidator of the mixed cargo, and includes instructions to the dismantling agent.

◾IATA (International Air Transport Association)

Abbreviation for International Air Transport Association. IATA is an organization of the air transport industry, providing services to airlines, passengers, cargo owners, travel service agents and governments. The association aims to promote the safety and standardization of air transportation (baggage inspection, air tickets, weight lists), and assist in the verification of international air transportation charges. IATA is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.

◾Import Licence

A government license document permitting the licensee (consignee) to import designated commodities.


The packaging of the goods is marked with a mark used to identify the goods or indicate the owner of the goods.

◾Master Air Waybill

This is an air waybill that includes a batch of consolidated cargo. The consolidator of the cargo is listed as the consignor.

◾Neutral Air Waybill

A standard air waybill without a designated carrier.

◾Perishable Cargo

Goods that are perishable within a specified period of time or under adverse temperature, humidity or other environmental conditions.

◾Prepacked Cargo

Goods that have been packed in a carrier by the shipper before being submitted to the cargo terminal operator.

◾Reception Checklist List

A document issued by the operator of the freight station when receiving the shipper’s goods.

◾Regulated Agent Regime

It is a system by which the government conducts security inspections on all air freight forwarders.

◾Shipment Release Form

A document issued by the carrier to the consignee to collect the goods from the operator of the freight station.


The person or company designated in the cargo transportation contract to deliver the goods to the consignee.

◾Live animals/dangerous goods Shipper's Certificate for live animals/dangerous goods

Declaration made by the shipper-a declaration that the goods have been properly packaged and accurately described in accordance with the latest version of IATA rules and all carrier rules and government regulations to make them suitable for air transport.

◾Shipper's Letter of Instruction (Shipper's Letter of Instruction)

Documents that include instructions from the shipper or the shipper’s agent regarding the preparation of documents and the delivery of goods.

◾STA/STD (Schedule Time of Arrival / Schedule Time of Departure)

Abbreviation of estimated time of arrival/departure

◾TACT (The Air Cargo Tariff)

The abbreviation of "Air Cargo Tariff" published by the International Aviation Press (IAP) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

◾Freight table (Tariff)

The carrier’s price, charges and/or related conditions for the transportation of goods. Freight schedules vary by country, cargo weight and/or carrier.

◾Unit Load Device

Any type of container or pallet used to transport goods.

◾Valuable Cargo

Goods whose declared value of goods is equal to or more than US$1,000 per kilogram, such as gold and diamonds.

◾Declared Value Charge (Valuation Charge)

Cargo transportation charges based on the value of the goods declared at the time of shipment.

◾Vulnerable Cargo (Vulnerable Cargo)

Goods that have no declared value but clearly need to be handled carefully, or goods that are particularly vulnerable to theft.