Terms and Abbreviations

Air Cargo Terms and Abbreviations

Are you looking for a glossary or a quick explanation of air cargo related terms and abbreviations, then take a look at this list:

Advise, Advised, Advising
Association of European Airlines (see the page “Interest Organisations” of this website also)
Company operating aircraft between steady origin and destination airports
Mail travelling by air
Air Operator
Company operating aircraft
Transport from an airport of origin to an airport of destination
Assigned volume on board of a flight / day
Aircraft On Ground ; materials expedited for repair of a grounded aircraft
Arrive, Arrived, Arrival
Also a C2K milestone: ARR = cargo and documents arrived at airport of destination
Air Transport Association (see the page “Interest Organisations” of this website also)
Actual Time of Arrival
Actual Time of Departure
The commission to a certain person or body to act on behalf of another person or body ; the person or body can be authorised e.g. to issue air waybills or to collect freight
Live Animal(s)
Air Waybill
Amount of goods still to be delivered or received and for which the planned or agreed date has expired
Lower-deck cargo hold of an aircraft
Outsized cargo
Blocked-space agreement
A continuous reservation (allotment) for space at one or more flight / date combinations with an airline
Bonded Goods
Goods on which the customs duty has not yet been paid, and which therefore, are under the control of customs; usually in a Bonded warehouse.
Bonded warehouse
A depository for goods on which the customs duty has not been paid ; the warehouse proprietor must provide a bond (often in the form of a bank warranty or a mortgage) to the customs authorities as a security for any duties which may not be paid by the customer
Request for reservation of space on a flight/day, (to be) confirmed by the airline
Break Bulk Agent
A forwarder breaking the bulk: taking care of the unpacking and sorting of goods after the flight
Breakdown List
List of shipments carried in one consolidation (see also: Consolidation Manifest)
Person who acts as an agent or intermediary in negotiating contracts ; sometimes refers to a forwarder role
Bulk Cargo
Loose cargo not loaded on an ULD
Cargo 2000 (see the “Cargo 2000” page of this website)
Cargo Aircraft
Aircraft built with the purpose of carrying nothing else than cargo
Cargo assembly
The separate reception of parcels or packages and the holding of them for later dispatch as one consignment ; consolidator role
Cargo disassembly
The separation of one or more of the parcels or packages that are  part of a consignment for further distribution ; break bulk role
Transport ; the process of conveying cargo from one point to another
The party responsible for transport of goods from one point to another, this can be for example an airline or a forwarder (as a NVOCC)
Cargo Accounts Settlement System
Cargo Aircraft Only
Charges Collect ; pay at moment of collection of the goods
Cargo Community System ; information system integrating the communication between air cargo parties at an airport
Certificate of Origin
A certificate proving the country of original production of goods ; used for customs declaration purposes
Charges collect
Charges as stated on the air waybill to be collected from the consignee
Charges prepaid
Charges as stated on the air waybill to be collected from the shipper
A written complaint about the execution of a contract of transportation by a carrier, combined with a demand for financial compensation
Assigning the right import classification number to goods as part of the customs declaration process
Collect, Collected, Collecting
Company Material (non revenue cargo)
Combi Aircraft, combining transport of passengers and cargo on the main-deck
Indication of the type of goods ; commodities are coded according to the harmonised system
Commodity code
Code used in the Harmonised System for the classification of goods, which are mostcommonly produced and traded
An official statement from a customer to a carrier about his unhappiness with the service or operation of the service provider
The person or company that is physically and administratively responsible for accepting the goods at final delivery
(see the “Consignment” page of this website also)
A collection of shipments belonging to different shippers travelling to one destination or area to be distributed to several consignees
Consolidation Manifest
List of shipments carried in one consolidation
Consolidation Rates
Rates as given by a consolidator / forwarder
A forwarder consolidating shipments before a flight ; these shipments belonging to different shippers and travelling to one destination or area in order to be distributed to several consignees after the flight
Company that carries envelopes and parcels up to 75 kg from door to door ; air transport is generally outsourced to airlines
Courier Rates
Rates as given by a courier
Customs Release Note
Customs Agent / Broker (Certified)
Party certified to handle the customs clearance on account of importers / exporters
Customs invoice
(Pro forma) Invoice for import declaration (customs and statistics) purposes, stating the commercial price, added with the costs for freight, insurance and packing etc., terms of delivery and payment
Customs value
Value of goods to be imported for import declaration (customs and statistics) purposes
Dangerous Goods
Goods that can be hazardous for health, flight-safety or materials
A C2K key performance indicator: DAP = Delivered As Promised (NFD in full and on time statuses are achieved)
A C2K milestone: DEP = cargo and documents departed at airport of origin
Dangerous Goods
Dangerous Goods Regulations (IATA)
Dimensional Weight (Conversion)
Concept adopted by the transportation industry worldwide as a uniform means of establishing a minimum charge for the cubic space a package occupies ; the volume is converted into a (higher) weight / price class
(See the “Forwarding Out” page of this website also)
Diplomatic mail
Deliver, Delivered, Delivering
Also a C2K milestone: DLV = cargo and documents delivered to customer (forwarder)
Document(s), Documentation
Domestic transport
Transport within a country
Transport from an initial shipper’s house address to a final consignee’s house address
Tax imposed on goods imported from another country
Electronic Data Interchange
Electronic Data Interchange For Administration, Commerce and Transport ; a specific EDI protocol
Electronic freight documents project from IATA ; e-Freight aims to take the paper out of the air cargo supply chain and -processes and replace it with cheaper, more accurate and more reliable electronic messaging ; facilitated by IATA, the project is an industry-wide initiative involving carriers, freight forwarders, ground handlers, shippers and customs authorities
(See the “e-Freight” page of this website also)
Electronic Data Interchange
The interchange of electronic data, structured following an agreed protocol, between the automated information system of different parties
An embargo on a certain kind of goods means these goods will not be transported by the airline, often for flight-safety reasons
Materials needed to handle or transport goods
European Shippers’ Council (see the page “Interest Organisations” of this website also)
Estimated Time of Arrival
Estimated Time of Departure
Forwarding goods (in less than the normal lead time)
Freight All Kinds
Rates for Freight All Kinds
A C2K key performance indicator: FAP = Flown As Planned (the complete shipment has flown at or before the last planned flight with a maximum 12 hour delay)
Full Container Load
Found Cargo
Freight Forwarding Message (electronic)
International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations (see the page “Interest Organisations” of this website also)
Company specialized in providing door-to-airport transport, arranging connecting air transport and/or airport-to-door transport for parcels and consolidations > 75 kg or up to anything that fits in an aircraft ; the air transport is generally outsourced to airlines and sometimes aircraft operators or air charter companies
(See the pages “Forwarding In” and “Fowarding Out” of this website also)
Forwarder network
A network existing of different smaller to medium sized forwarding companies all over the world working together
Aircraft built with the purpose of carrying nothing else than cargo
Freight Status Update
Fuel surcharge
Surcharge added to the cargo rate to cover the additional costs of increasing fuel-prices ; these will generally folow a certain index
Full charter
Chartering the full available volume of an aircraft or flight/day
Full Container Load
Container fully loaded, generally with goods belonging to one party
Full freighter
Aircraft built with the purpose of carrying nothing else than cargo
Electronic air waybill message
Also a C2K milestone: FWB = the shipment is booked at the airline, next an electronic air waybill is generated by agent (forwarder) ; this creates the so-called route map in C2K in which all the steps are followed
For Your Information
General Cargo Rates
Rates for all different kinds of cargo, not falling into a specific handling and/or rate category
General Sales Agent
Global Shippers Forum (see the page “Interest Organisations” of this website also)
Handling Agent
Agent handling the ramp and/or warehouse cargo operation for an airline
Harmonised System
A numeric multi purpose system for the classification of goods with its six digits covering about 5000 descriptions of the products or groups of products most commonly produced and traded, designed for customs purposes, but can also be used for statistics, transport purposes, export, import and manufacturing; the international convention on the HS was established under auspices of the World Customs Organisation in 1983
Inland transport of cargo
Road carrier
Heavy Cargo
House Air Waybill
House Air Waybill
The shipment contract between the end-customer and the forwarder (see the page “Forwarding Out” of this website for further purposes and explanation)
Central point in a transport system or network
Human remains
House Waybill
International Air Transport Association (see the page “Interest Organisations” of this website also)
An IATA certified agent
Inbound Cargo Action List
International Civil Aviation Organisation (see the page “Interest Organisations” of this website also)
Dry Ice Shipment
Inco terms
Internationally agreed set of standard delivery terms
Carrier integrating different modes of transport to form a door-to-door transport or supply chain ; this term mostly refers to the large international express companies who’s core business is to carry envelopes and parcels up to 75 kg, often overnight or even same day
Intermodal Transport
The movement of cargo in a supply chain by more than one mode of transport ; for example road/air or sea/air transport
If Space Available
Letter of Credit
Less than Container Load
Less than Container Load
Container partly filled with goods from one party, or an amount of goods that is not sufficient to fill one container and will therefore likely be consolidated
Living Human Organs / Blood
License, import / export
Governmental permit to import / export certain goods under certain conditions
Line item
Order line, each line on a packing list or invoice to be declared for customs
Load factor
The extent to which the aircraft (weight-, volume-, ULD-) capacity is efficiently utilized (to generate profit)
Loose cargo / shipments
Cargo / shipments not loaded on an ULD
Lower deck
The (cargo) deck below the main deck or upper deck of an aircraft
Local Time
Main deck
Upper deck ; the (cargo) deck above  the lower deck of an aircraft
Manifest, flight
Document listing the air waybills and a specification of the related goods carried on a flight
Master Air Waybill
The shipment contract between the forwarder and the airline (see the page “Forwarding Out” of this website for further purposes and explanation)
Master Air Waybill
Minimum Rate
Rate to cover the basic costs of carrying a shipment
Network Forwarder
A large forwarding company with worldwide branches
A C2K milestone: NFD = cargo and documents ready for pick-up at airline (handler), the customer (forwarder) is notified
Notice of Non Delivery
Airline or agent that is not a member of IATA
Nose loading
Loading cargo through the cargo door in the nose of an aircraft
Notify address
Address of a party other than the consignee to be notified of arrival of the goods
Notify party
Party other than the consignee to be notified of arrival of the goods
Notification To Captain ; list for the captain of the aircraft with goods carried on board
Rates for shipments with weights up to 45 kg
Non Vessel Operating/Owning Cargo Carrier ; in case of Air Cargo a Carrier (e.g. a Forwarder or Consolidator) who issues Air Waybills for the carriage of cargo on aircraft which he does not  operate or own
Official Airlines Guide
On Board
Oversized cargo
Cargo that exceeds the dimensions of an ULD
Packed piece of cargo
Packing list
A list for customs declaration and consignment purposes stating number and kinds of packages being shipped, totals of gross, legal, and net weights of the packages, marks and numbers on the packages, contents and part-/serialnumbers
A (standardized) platform on which goods can be stacked for transport or warehouse handling purposes
Pallet, aircraft
A (standardized) platform on which goods can be stacked for air transport purposes
Pallet net
A net used to secure the cargo on the aircraft pallet
Part charter
Chartering of a part of the available volume on an aircraft or flight/day
Part shipment
Part of a shipment that travels on a different flight and/or day than the rest of the shipment due to available capacity with the airline
The (cargo) load that can be carried by an aircraft (to generate revenue)
Perishable Cargo
Pro Forma Invoice
Proof Of Acceptance ; legal proof a shipment has been accepted by a party
Proof Of Delivery ; legal proof a shipment has been delivered by a party
Place Of Delivery
Charges Prepaid
Message stating the current and or expected status of the goods
The customer ordering the transport or related services
Part Shipment
Rates with a quantity discount
A C2K milestone: RCF = cargo has arrived in the cargo bay at final destination ; cargo and airwaybill are administratively received in the system
Receipt, Reception
A C2K milestone: RCS = cargo and documents are received 'Ready For Carriage' and accepted by airline (handler)
Ready For Carriage
(By Air) The goods are correctly packed and labeled, and customs cleared, with the right documents attached
Ready For Transport
(By Road) The goods are correctly packed and labeled, with the right documents attached
Ready For Carriage
Ready For Transport
The path that is (to be) followed by the goods from shipper to consignee
Rush Reply
As Soon As Possible
Substitute Air Waybill
Security surcharge
Surcharge added to the cargo rate to cover the additional costs of the increasing number of security checks and related administration that are legally required by the authorities
The person or company that is physically and administratively responsible for shipping the goods ; for an airline in most cases a forwarder will be the shipper, for a forwarder the shipper is a third party, for example a trading company, a manufacturer, etc.
(see the “Shipping” page of this website also)
Shipper’s Letter of Instruction
Document issued by the shipper to instruct and authorize the forwarder to forward and declare goods on his behalf ; contains all shipment details needed to facilitate these services
Side loading
Loading cargo through a cargo door in the side of an aircraft
Short Loaded
Shipper’s Letter of Instruction
Short Shipped ; stayed behind
The Air Cargo Tariff ; publication of official airline tariffs
Time Before Arrival
Time Before Departure
The International Air Cargo Association (see the page “Interest Organisations” of this website also)
Tilting Not Allowed
Tilting Allowed
Time Slot
The agreed time to collect or deliver goods
Tonne Kilometer
One tonne (1000 kg or 2204.6 lb) metric flown one kilometer ; productivity indicator
Retrieving (information on) the status of goods and documents
Regular checking on the status of goods and documents
Track & Trace
Automated regular retrieval of (information on) the status of goods and documents and checking these against the agreed norms
Transfer cargo
Transfer of cargo from one flight to another
Transito / Transit cargo
Transfer of cargo from one flight to another
Transfer Manifest
Unit Load Device
ULD, contoured
Unit Load Device shaped to exactly fit in an aircraft
Unit Load Device
Standardized air cargo loading equipment (pallet, container)
Upper deck
Main deck ; the (cargo) deck above  the lower deck of an aircraft
Valuable cargo
Value Added Tax
Volume charge
Air transport charge based on the volume of goods instead of the actual weight (see “Dimensional Weight” and “Weight charge” also)
Vulnerable cargo
Weight charge
Air transport charge based on the actual weight of the goods (see “Dimensional Weight” and “Volume charge” also)
Weight & Balance
Management of the weight and allocation of cargo, passengers and fuel for a flight
Priority Small Package
In Excess
Yield management
The process of maximizing the contribution (revenue) of the (transport & handling) network, equipment, infrastructure and resources

Could not find what you were looking for?  Then take a further look for example on one of these sites:

Find everything about all kinds of airline and aircraft codes on the The Airline Codes Web Site  (This web site has been setup to help you cut through the jungle of all those codes and abbreviations used in and around the Airline Industry.  Whether it be an Aircraft Type Code in a printed timetable or an Airline Code in online Booking system or on your ticket this site has been designed to help you find out what that code stands for.  So if you want to know what type of Aircraft an AB6 is that your bookings says you will be flying on or what Airport YYZ is that you are flying from or to, this is the place to look.)

Else take a look at the labels at the right side of every page of this site ----->

Source: Turkish Cargo


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international logistics companies said...

Thanks for the list, I'm in transportation industry for more than 10 years and still there were abbreviations that I didn't know. Your article cleared everything up for me.

Tati said...

Hello! This is very nice Blog and I am glad I found it. Very helpful!
I am trying to understand what "volume cut" means in airfreight. I have an idea but I haven't found any proper explanation so far. Could you please help me?

Roland said...

OK Tati thanks - I am working on your question to explain volume cut ; I also have an idea indeed but hard to find the right explanation... can you read chinese?

Tati said...

Hello! Thanks for your help! No, unfortunately I am not able to read Chinese...

Roland said...

Hi Tati, OK this is how far we could get with this from a chines document :) A forwarder has contracted an airline for 800kg, but has sales only for 500kg. He/she then offers the other 300kg for sale to other fowarders at the net kg tariff, so not the volume-weight tariff, which means both parties will benefit. One bcse of selling unsold capacity, and the other one bcse of buying at a lower rate... I hope anyone reading this can comment further...

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Anonymous said...

Please help me understand the requirements for a good track and trace system for air cargo as well as potential advantages and disadvantages for both the client and the freight forwarder.

Roland Spijker said...

Hi Anonymous, a good tracking & tracing system for any supply chain provides to the shippers timely and on-line status information about their shipments (and related purchase orders) for the important milestones of the door-to-door chain ; the organizing companies in the chain, e.g. forwarders may need more info also on the steps between the milestones. An air cargo track and trace system will only provide partial info on the airport-to-airport parts of the chain... Does this help?

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Unknown said...

Hi, Thanks for the list.

I do have a question : does FFC stands for any thing in Air Transport ?


Roland Spijker said...

Hi, yes FFC stands for an Air WayBill space allocation change (CRM).

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Anh Nguyen Tuy said...

what does the Letter N in "N-rates" stand for?

Roland Spijker said...

Hi Anh, probably for Normal (=general cargo) rates...

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