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:

See: Airport-to-airport.
See: Airport-to-door.
Airlines for America Airlines (see the page “Interest Organisations”).
ABC Air Cargo Guide
See: OAG.
ABC World Airways Guide
See: OAG.
Active Temperature Controlled System. [IATA special handling code]
Act of God (Force majeure)
Damage to goods occurring without human influence. For example floods, storms, lightning, earthquakes, etc. [IATA]
Advise, Advised, Advising.
Advance arrangement
The shipper has to contact the carrier before issuing the shipment in order to prepare for the right handling or aircraft capacity needed.
Advanced charge
See: Disbursements.
Association of European Airlines (see the page “Interest Organisations”).
A person or organization authorized to act on behalf of another person or organization [IATA] ; see also: Forwarding Agent, Customs Agent, General Sales Agent.
Air Charter company
Company organizing aircraft capacity between origins and destinations on request.
Aircraft configuration
Planned use of the space available within the aircraft interior. Within one aircraft type different configurations may be possible; this is for example to be used for planning the movement of goods on ULD positions or in Bulk positions.
Aircraft contour
The maximum inside profile of the constant cross section portion of an aircraft. [IATA]
Aircraft hours
Aircraft hours are based on “block-to-block” time (i.e. from the moment the aircraft is pushed back from the gate or starts taxiing from its parking stand for take-off to the moment it comes to a final stop at a gate or parking stand after landing); also known as block time. [ICAO]
Aircraft movement
An aircraft take-off or landing at an airport. For airport traffic purposes one arrival and one departure is counted as two movements.
-          International. All flights of national or foreign aircraft whose origin or destination is located in the territory of a State other than that in which the airport being reported on is located.
-          Domestic. All flights of national or foreign aircraft in which all the airports are located in the territory of the same State.
In both cases a flight shall be considered as the operation of an aircraft on a stage or number of stages with an unchanging flight number. Technical stops are not considered. [ICAO]
Aircraft Pallet
A platform with a flat under surface, manufactured to standard aircraft requirements on which goods are assembled and secured by nets / straps / igloos and subsequently locked into the aircraft.  It permits rapid loading / unloading on compatible aircraft conveying and restraint systems.  As such it becomes a component of the aircraft loading and restraint system. [IATA] (see also: Aircraft Unit Load Device)
Aircraft Pallet Net
A net fixed to a pallet to restrain the cargo.
Aircraft Unit Load Device (ULD)
Standardized air cargo loading equipment in the form of a container or a pallet, made to international specifications to be exactly locked and secured onto the aircraft cargo floor. As such it becomes part of the aircraft structure.
Aircraft Version
The type designator used to indicate the aircraft configuration together with the details of the equipment carried. [IATA]
Company organizing scheduled aircraft capacity between origin and destination airports ; also:
The air carrier issuing the air waybill or all other air carriers performing services under the air waybill.
Airline Code Number
See: Prefix.
Mail travelling by air. See also: Mail.
Air Operator
Company operating aircraft.
Air cargo transport from an airport of origin to an airport of destination.
(Road) transport from the airport of arrival to the house address of the (final) consignee.
Air taxi revenue flights
On-demand, non-scheduled flights on short notice for the carriage by air of passengers, freight or mail, or any combination thereof for remuneration usually performed with smaller aircraft including helicopters (typically no more than 30 seats). Also includes any positioning flights required for the provision of the service. [ICAO]
Air Waybill
The Document made out by or on behalf of the shipper which evidences the contract between the shipper and carrier(s) for carriage of goods over routes of the carrier(s). [IATA]
All-Cargo Aircraft
An aircraft which carries air freight only.  Also Cargo Aircraft or Freighter. [IATA]
Customer contracted space for cargo on board of specific flights/dates. During the booking and flight planning process this space keeps being reserved for the customer, until it is manually or automatically released in case the customer does not use the space.
Ancillary Equipment
Equipment used to build up a palletised load or to convey a ULD outside an aircraft.  For example: jigs, dollies, templates. [IATA]
Aircraft On Ground ; materials expedited for repair of a grounded aircraft. [IATA special handling code]
Part of the airport where aircraft are parked, loaded or unloaded, handled and maintained.
Arrive, Arrived, Arrival.
Also: a C2K / Cargo iQ milestone: ARR = cargo and documents arrived at airport of destination.
Former Air Transport Association, now A4A (see above and see the page “Interest Organisations”).
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). [IATA special handling code]
See: Air Waybill.
Amount of goods still to be delivered or received and for which the planned or agreed date has expired.
Barrier Net
Net inside the aircraft installed across the fuselage to prevent the cargo from moving in case of an emergency.
Basic Weight (of an Aircraft)
Weight of the aircraft ready for operation. [IATA]
Part of the cargo hold, e.g. a cargo position or ULD position in the aircraft.
Break Even Load Factor ; The weight load factor at which point operating revenues equal operating expenses. It is obtained by multiplying the weight load factor by the ratio of the operating expenses to the operating revenues. [ICAO]
Lower-deck cargo hold of an aircraft.
Bid Price
The minimum price that should be charged for a booking.
Outsized cargo. [IATA special handling code]
Blocked-space agreement
A continuous reservation for space at one or more flight / date combinations with an airline.  See also: Allotment.
Block-Off Charter
See: Part Charter.
Block time
See: Aircraft hours.
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.  Booking can take place via telephone, e-mail or via e-booking channels.
Break Bulk
Disassembling of consolidated shipments for delivery or reconsignment of a shipment
Break Bulk Agent
A forwarder breaking the bulk: taking care of breaking the consolidations into their individual parts, and/or 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
A fee of commission paid to a Broker for services performed.
Bulk cargo
Loose cargo not loaded on an ULD.
Bulk compartment
Aircraft compartment planned for carrying bulk cargo.
A fixed partition separating cargo holds in an aircraft. [IATA]
Bulk unitization
An agreement whereby a carrier rents containers and pallets to agents and exporters to assemble cargo into one ULD. [IATA]
Bulk unitization charge
A tariff applicable to bulk unitization charges. [IATA]
Bulk Unitization Programme, Shipper/Consignee Handled Unit. Customer built up pallet that moves through the air cargo chain as a complete unit as be it one collo.  [IATA special handling code]
Cargo 2000, former name of Cargo iQ (see the page “Cargo 2000 iQ”).
Traffic originating at a point in one country and destined for another point within the territory of the same country. For example: New York – Los Angeles or Melbourne – Perth. [IATA]
Cargo Aircraft Only. [IATA special handling code]
The amount of cargo that can be carried by an aircraft, either by weight, volume or ULD positions.
Equivalent to the term goods, meaning any property carried or to be carried in an aircraft other than mail, baggage or property of the carrier; provided that baggage moving under an air waybill is cargo. [IATA]
Cargo 2000
Former name of Cargo iQ (see the page “Cargo 2000 iQ”).
Cargo aircraft
See: All-Cargo Aircraft
Cargo assembly
The separate reception of parcels or packages and the holding of them for later dispatch as one consignment [IATA] ; applies to consolidator role.
Cargo disassembly
The separation of one or more of the parcels or packages that are  part of a consignment for any purpose other than that of presenting such part to customs authorities on their specific request [IATA] ; applies to break bulk role.
Cargo hold
A space in an aircraft confined by ceiling, floors, walls and bulkheads used for carrying baggage, cargo and mail, either in bulk or in unit load devices. [IATA]
Cargo Interchange Message Procedures.  Cargo data exchange automation between airlines and other parties works much more efficiently if messaging procedures and standards are applied. IATA's Cargo-IMP is the legacy standard for exchanging critical cargo operations information. The IATA Cargo-XML standard which will ultimately replace Cargo-IMP. 
Cargo iQ
Cargo iQ, formerly “Cargo 2000”, is an IATA interest group with the mission of creating and implementing quality standards for the worldwide air cargo industry (see the page “Cargo 2000 iQ”).
IATA Cargo-XML messages are the new standard for air cargo industry electronic messaging, as an alternative to Cargo-IMP, and are used for electronic communication between airlines and other air cargo supply chain stakeholders, such as shippers, freight forwarders, ground-handling agents, and regulators, as well as customs and security agencies.
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).
Also: Trucking charge.  The charge for picking up or delivering goods by surface transportation. [IATA]
Cargo Accounts Settlement System.  A system of accounting and settling accounts on air cargo sales between airlines on one hand and their intermediaries on the other. [IATA]
Cargo Attendant Accompanying Shipment. [IATA special handling code]
See: Charges Collect.
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.
Certificate of weight
Official document stating the weight of the goods mentioned thereon. [IATA]
Certification of a ULD
Approval by airworthiness authorizations that an ULD meets the safety requirements of the aircraft in which it is to be carried.
An amount to be paid for the carriage of cargo based on the applicable rate for such carriage or an amount to be paid for special or incidental service in connection with such carriage. [IATA]
Chargeable weight
The chargeable weight is either the actual gross weight or the volume weight of a consignment, or the minimum weight of an applicable rate, whichever is higher. The chargeable weight is used to calculate the weight charge (chargeable weight x rate per kg/lb = weight charge. [IATA]
Charges collect
Charges as stated on the air waybill to be collected from the consignee at the moment of collection of the goods.
Charges collect fee
A fee assessed on the weight and valuation charge of charges collect shipments. This fee is payable by the consignee.
Charges forward
See: Charges collect.
Charges prepaid
Charges as stated on the air waybill for payment by the shipper.
An aircraft or flight operating under a charter contract.
Charter contract
A special agreement whereby a carrier places the entire capacity of an aircraft at a shipper’s disposition.
Charter party
See: Charter contract.
The person who has signed a charter contract with a carrier.
Checked baggage
Means baggage of which the carrier takes sole custody and for which carrier has issued a baggage check.
A written complaint about the execution of a contract of transportation by a carrier, combined with a demand for financial compensation.
Class rate
A rate applicable to a specifically designated class of goods. E.g. newspapers, live animals, etc.
Assigning the right import classification number to goods as part of the customs declaration process.  (Customs authorities have articles listed in classes for rating purposes.)
Cash On Delivery.
Code sharing
The use of the flight designator code of one air carrier on a service performed by a second air carrier, which service is usually also identified (and may be required to be identified) as a service of, and being performed by, the second air carrier. [ICAO]
Cool Goods. [IATA special handling code]
Collect, Collected, Collecting.
Company Material (non revenue cargo).
Combi Aircraft, combining transport of passengers and cargo on the main-deck.
Combination of charges
An amount which is obtained by combining two or more charges.
Combination of rates
An amount which is obtained by combining two or more published sector rates.
Commercial air transport
Air transport services available to the general public for the transportation of passengers, mail and/or freight for remuneration. Includes air taxis and commercial business flights. [ICAO]
Commercial air transport operator
An operator that, for remuneration, provides scheduled or non-scheduled air transport services to the public for the carriage of passengers, freight or mail. This category also includes small-scale operators, such as air taxis and commercial business operators, that provide commercial air transport services. [ICAO]
Commercial invoice
An invoice for goods which make up a commercial transaction.
A fee payable to an IATA agent.
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 most commonly 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
A collection of shipments belonging to different shippers (covered by different House Air waybills) travelling to one destination (covered by one Master Air waybill) or area to be distributed to several consignees. 
Consolidation Manifest
List of shipments carried in one consolidation (used for Customs purposes).
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.
Constructed rate
A rate other than a published through rate.
Construction rate
A non-saleable add-on amount for Tariff publication purposes to be used only in combination with a published through rate.
Consular invoice
A prescribed form of invoice required by a transit or destination country, usually legalized by the Consulate of the country concerned against payment of a fee.
See: ULD.
Container transport
Goods forwarded in approved containers or ULD’s.
The practice of using a boxlike device in which a number of packages are stored, protected and handled as a single unit in transit.
Conventional aircraft
See: Narrow body aircraft.
Convertible aircraft
An aircraft which can be converted in a very short time from an all passenger to an all or part cargo configuration and back.
A person carrying time-sensitive documents or packages through the passenger cabin and/or baggage and customs channels thereby avoiding the traditional, more time consuming customs procedures for freight.
Courier company
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
See: Customs broker
Customs broker (certified)
Party certified to handle the customs clearance on account of importers / exporters.
Customs clearance
Customs formalities to be completed at origin, in transit and destination.
Customs clearance agent
See: Customs broker.
Customs duty
A governmental tax levied on goods cleared through customs.
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 officer
An employee working for the customs authorities.
Customs value
Value of goods to be imported for import declaration (customs and statistics) purposes.
Dangerous cargo
See: Dangerous goods.
Dangerous goods
Goods that can be hazardous for health, flight-safety or materials; in air cargo: any article defined as hazardous as per the IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR).
Dangerous Goods Regulations
IATA publication with regulations listing all dangerous goods and giving detailed instructions regarding packing and handling of these materials.
A Cargo iQ (former C2K) key performance indicator: DAP = Delivered As Promised (NFD in full and on time statuses are achieved).
Baggage, cargo and mail.
A structural floor level of an aircraft.  The different floor levels are referred to as lower deck, main deck and upper deck from bottom to top.
Declared value for carriage
Value of goods declared by the shipper to the carrier for purposes of determining charges or establishing the limit of the carrier’s liability for loss, damage or delay.
Declared value for customs
Value of the goods declared by the shipper for customs purposes.
Delivering airline
See: Delivering carrier.
Delivering carrier
The carrier which delivers the consignment to the consignee or his agent.
Delivery charge
A charge levied for the delivery service.
Delivery order
Authorization to deliver the consignment to a party other than the consignee shown on the Air Waybill.
Delivery receipt
A receipt signed by the consignee as proof that the goods have been delivered to him/her.
Delivery service
The carriage of inbound consignments from the airport of destination to the address of the consignee or that of his designated agent or to the custody of the appropriate government agency when required.
Expected amount of cargo to be booked for a given flight / segment / stretch or O&D.
A variable fee charged from carriers to customers for the use of carrier owned ULD’s beyond the free time allotment.
Relationship of weight to volume i.e. lbs. per cu.ft. or kgs. Per cu.m.
A Cargo iQ (former C2K) milestone: DEP = cargo and documents departed at airport of origin.
The final address or airport where the cargo has to arrive or is consigned, according to the contract of carriage.
Dangerous Goods.
Dangerous Goods Regulations (published by 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)
The length, width and height measured in centimetres or inches used to assess applicable rates.
Diplomatic mail. [IATA special handling code]
Direct flight
A flight from a point of origin to a point of destination that does not require cargo to be transferred to another flight although there may be one or more intermediate stops en route.
(Also: Advanced Charge) Charge paid by carrier to agent or other carrier which the delivering carrier collects from the consignee. [IATA]
Disposable container
A ULD to be used only once.
Distribution centre
See: Hub.
Deliver, Delivered, Delivering.
Also a Cargo iQ (former C2K) milestone: DLV = cargo and documents delivered to customer (forwarder).
Document(s), Documentation.

Domestic flight
A flight having exclusively domestic stages. (See flight stage, domestic). [ICAO]
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 Air Waybill.  See also: FWB.
Electronic on-line booking via the airline’s booking portal / channels.
Electronic claim.
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”)
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 Cargo iQ (former 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)
Fixed-Base Operator ; An organization granted the right by an airport to operate at the airport and provide aeronautical services such as fueling, hangaring, tie-down and parking, aircraft rental, aircraft maintenance, flight instruction, and similar services (which can include ad-hoc handling of air cargo).
Full Container Load
Found Cargo
Freight Forwarding Message (electronic)
International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations (see the page “Interest Organisations”)
Flight (air carrier operations)
The operation of an aircraft on a flight stage or number of flight stages with the same flight number. [ICAO]
Flight leg

Flight segment

Flight stage
A flight stage is the operation of an aircraft from take-off to its next landing. A flight stage is classified as either international or domestic based on the following definitions:
-          International. A flight stage with one or both terminals in the territory of a State, other than the State in which the air carrier has its principal place of business.
-          Domestic. A flight stage not classifiable as international. Domestic flight stages include all flight stages flown between points within the domestic boundaries of a State by an air carrier whose principal place of business is in that State. Flight stages between a State and territories belonging to it, as well as any flight stages between two such territories, should be classified as domestic. This applies even though a stage may cross international waters or over the territory of another State.
1.      In the case of multinational air carriers owned by partner States, traffic within each partner State is shown separately as domestic and all other traffic as international.
2.      “Foreign” cabotage traffic (i.e. traffic carried between city-pairs in a State other than the one where the reporting carrier has its principal place of business) is shown as international traffic.
3.      A technical stop does not result in any flight stage being classified differently than would have been the case had the technical stop not been made.
Forwarder (Air Freight)
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
Forwarding agent

Freedoms of the Air
A set of commercial aviation rights granting a country's airlines to overfly another country’s airspace and to land for a technical stop as well as the privilege pick-up and discharge traffic in another country's territory. [ICAO]
Includes express and diplomatic bags but not passenger baggage. [ICAO]
Freight collect
See: Charges collect
Freight (or mail) loaded/unloaded
These terms as applied to freight and mail have meanings similar to embarked and disembarked for passengers. [ICAO]
Aircraft built with the purpose of carrying nothing else than cargo
Freight mass
The factor to convert freight loads from volume into mass (or vice versa) is left to the discretion of the carrier. However, if no conversion factor is available, it is recommended that 161 kilograms per cubic meter be used. The same  conversion factor can be used for passenger baggage. [ICAO]
Freight (or mail) tonnes carried
The number of tonnes of freight carried is obtained by counting each tonne of freight on a particular flight (with one flight number) once only and not repeatedly on each individual stage of that flight.  The only exception to this is for freight flown on both the international and domestic stages of the same flight, which is considered in computation both as a domestic and an international shipment or dispatch.  The same principle should be used in calculating mail tonnes carried. [ICAO]
Freight (or mail) tonne-kilometres performed
A metric tonne of freight or mail carried one kilometre. Freight tonne-kilometres equal the sum of the products obtained by multiplying the number of tonnes of freight, express, diplomatic bags carried on each flight stage by the stage distance. For ICAO statistical purposes freight includes express and diplomatic bags but not passenger baggage. Mail tonne-kilometres are computed in the same way as freight tonne-kilometres. [ICAO]
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 Cargo iQ (former 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

Ground Handling Agent
Booked shipment that shows up for departure, with a weight/volume more or less same as booked. Based on this the shipment can be accepted by the airline handler.
Ground Handler
Company handling one or more services on the airport on behalf of an airline ; e.g. aircraft towing, cargo (un)loading, passenger handling, etc.
See: Consolidation.
General Sales Agent
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
Booked shipment that shows up for departure, but with a weight/volume higher than booked. Based on this the airline handler must probably notify the customer and/or airline before acceptance.
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”)
An IATA certified agent
Inbound Cargo Action List
International Civil Aviation Organisation (see the page “Interest Organisations”)
Dry Ice Shipment
Inco terms
Internationally agreed set of standard delivery terms (see Wikipedia)
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
International airport
Any airport designated by an ICAO Contracting State in whose territory it is situated as an airport of entry and departure for international air traffic, where the formalities such as customs, immigration, public health, agricultural quarantine and similar procedures are carried out. [ICAO]
International flight
A flight that contains one or more international flight stages. (See flight stage, international). [ICAO]
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
Joint service flight
A flight identified by the designator codes of two air carriers that, with the concurrence of their respective States, typically have agreed with each other to share revenues and/or costs. [ICAO]
Letter of Credit
Low Cost Carrier ; An air carrier that has a relatively low-cost structure in comparison with other comparable carriers and offers low fares and rates. Such an airline may be independent, the division or subsidiary of a major network airline or, in some instances, the ex-charter arm of an airline group. [ICAO]
Less than Container Load
Leased aircraft
An aircraft used under a contractual leasing arrangement to increase an air carrier fleet capacity. [ICAO]
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
Low show
Booked shipment that shows up for departure, but with a weight lower than booked. Based on this the airline handler must probably notify the customer and/or airline before acceptance.
Local Time
All correspondence and other objects tendered by and intended for delivery to postal administrations. [ICAO]
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
Maximum certificated take-off mass ; The maximum permissible take-off mass of the aircraft according to the certificate of airworthiness, the flight manual or other official documents. [ICAO]
Minimum Rate
Rate to cover the basic costs of carrying a shipment
Narrow body aircraft

Net/Net rate

Network Forwarder
A large forwarding company with worldwide branches
A Cargo iQ (former 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
Non-revenue flights
Aircraft hours flown on non-commercial business aviation, test flights, training and all other flights for which no revenue is received. [ICAO]
Non-scheduled revenue flights (excluding on-demand flights)
Charter flights and special flights performed for remuneration other than those reported under scheduled flights. They include any items related to blocked-off charters and exclude air taxi, commercial business aviation or other on demand revenue flights. [ICAO]
Nose loading
Loading cargo through the cargo door in the nose of an aircraft
Booked shipment that does not show up for departure. Based on this the airline handler must probably notify the customer and/or airline.
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 Airline Guide ; a UBM Aviation business, recognized for its comprehensive information and services to the world’s airlines, airports, global distribution systems, aircraft ; specifically for air cargo: solutions for routing and shipment planning, dangerous goods regulations, compliance, real-time access to air freight rates, aviation schedule data, operational announcement solutions, cargo tracking and analysis solutions and multi-media cargo schedule products manufacturers, financial institutions, government agencies and travel planners (see OAG Cargo website and Wikipedia)
On Board
On Board Courier
Cargo is loaded on the aircraft but off-loaded again, e.g. for reasons of weight & balance, security, flight safety, etc.
On-flight origin and destination ; City-pair / two cities between which travel is authorized by a passenger ticket or part of a ticket (a flight coupon) or between which shipments are made in accordance with a shipment document or a part of it (freight bill or mail delivery bill). [ICAO]
Origin and Destination
On Board Courier

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Operating carrier
That carrier whose flight number is being used for air traffic control purposes. For the purpose of reporting air carrier statistics to ICAO, all operational and traffic items should be reported by the operating carrier, including code-shared, franchised, pooled, blocked-off charter, blocked-space arrangements, joint services and leased aircraft services. [ICAO]
Operating costs
Air carrier operating costs are generally subdivided into:
-          Direct operating costs (DOC), i.e those cost incurred in operating the aircraft which cover the following main accounts : flight operations, flight equipment maintenance and overhaul, flight equipment depreciation, and user charges.
-          Indirect operating costs (IOC) cover the remaining operating cost items, i.e, station expenses, passenger services, ticketing, sales and promotion and, general and administrative expenses.
The first address or airport where the cargo was shipped
The practice of allowing more capacity to be booked than the carrying capacity of the flight, because it is expected that a part of the bookings will be canceled or will not show up for departure
Overcarried cargo
Cargo that accidentally ended up at the wrong destination (e.g. due to building on wrong pallet)
Over pivot rate
Rate per kilogram to be charged for the over pivot weight
Over pivot weight
Weight in excess of the pivot weight
The situation when more cargo is sold before departure than the aircraft / flight can hold
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-/serial numbers
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)
Payload capacity
Total payload capacity available (in metric tonnes), above and below deck, for the carriage of revenue load (passengers, baggage, freight and mail) taking into account any payload and operational restrictions on the supply of capacity. [ICAO]
Perishable Cargo
Pro Forma Invoice
Pivot weight
Minimum chargeable weight of a Unit Load Device
Proof Of Acceptance ; legal proof a shipment has been accepted by a party
Also: Power Of Attorney ; allows the Broker to act on behalf of the person or firm granting the POA and give them the right to make customs entry
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
An airline identification number stated before the serial number on an air waybill. For example: KL = 074 ; AF = 057. [IATA]
The customer ordering the transport or related services
Part Shipment
Rates with a quantity discount
Quick change aircraft
See: Convertible aircraft.
Rapid change aircraft
See: Convertible aircraft.
A Cargo iQ (former C2K) milestone: RCF = cargo has arrived in the cargo bay at final destination ; cargo and air waybill are administratively received in the system
Receipt, Reception
A Cargo iQ (former 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 labelled, and customs cleared, with the right documents attached
Ready For Transport
(By Road) The goods are correctly packed and labelled, with the right documents attached
Revenue Management
Maximising revenues of the aircraft cargo capacity
See: Booking.
Revenue traffic
Traffic (passenger, freight or mail) flown by an air carrier for which it receives commercial remuneration. Unless otherwise stated, traffic data shown for air carriers generally correspond to revenue traffic, which can then be readily compared with the revenues reported for that traffic. [ICAO]
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
Scheduled revenue flights
Flights scheduled and performed for remuneration according to a published timetable, or so regular or frequent as to constitute a recognizably systematic series, which are open to direct booking by members of the public; and extra section flights occasioned by overflow traffic from scheduled flights. [ICAO]
Product by which shipped goods move partly by sea/ocean transport and partly by air transport
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
Short shipped cargo
Cargo that was not fully loaded on board of an aircraft but which is nevertheless listed in the shipment's air waybill (and manifest). If the short shipment is known AFTER the bill has been issued and the aircraft departed, then the bill of lading will have to be split and the manifest will be amended with a manifest corrector showing the old shipment details and the new shipment details. The item that stayed behind must then be shipped on a next flight by the same carrier.
Show up rate
The percentage of bookings that actually show up for departure
Side loading
Loading cargo through a cargo door in the side of an aircraft (or a truck)
Pallet (made from wood or plastic) used to move cargo within the warehouse or onto a truck
Short Loaded
Shipper’s Letter of Instruction
Split shipment
A shipment that is split over different ULD’s traveling on the same flight / day
(The loss of revenue due to) unused aircraft cargo capacity
Short Shipped ; stayed behind
Special Service Request
The Air Cargo Tariff ; publication of official airline tariffs
Time Before Arrival
Time Before Departure
Technical stop
A stop most commonly used to refuel the aircraft, to make unexpected essential repairs or to respond to some emergency need to land the aircraft. No traffic is unloaded or loaded during a technical stop. [ICAO]
A territory is a land mass which is part of or is administered by a country. In ICAO when data are shown by Country they include data for any entity in a territory administered by that country. When data are shown by Region data for territories are assigned to their regions which are usually different from that of the administering country. For example, Guadalupe and Martinique are overseas territories of France. When data are shown by Country, France will include any data for entities based in Martinique and Guadalupe. However, when data are presented by Region the data of any entity based in Guadalupe and/or Martinique will be shown under Latin America/Caribbean, whereas those based in the mainland will appear under Europe. [ICAO]
Through rate
Total rate from point of departure to point of destination. It may be a joint rate or a combination of rates.
The International Air Cargo Association (see the page “Interest Organisations”)
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 kilometre ; productivity indicator for airlines
Tonne-kilometres available (TKA)
A tonne-kilometre is available when one tonne of payload capacity is flown one kilometre. Tonne-kilometres available equals the sum of the products obtained by multiplying the number of tonnes available for the carriage of revenue load (passengers, freight and mail) on each flight stage by the stage distance. [ICAO]
Tonne-kilometres performed (TKP)
A metric tonne of revenue load carried one kilometre. Tonne-kilometres performed equals the sum of the product obtained by multiplying the number of total tonnes of revenue load (passengers, freight and mail) carried on each flight stage by the stage distance. [ICAO]
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
For air transport purposes, traffic means the carriage of passengers, freight and mail. [ICAO]
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. See also: Aircraft Unit Load Device.
When used as a special handling code (non-IATA): Loose shipment destined to be built separately 1:1 on one ULD.
ULD, contoured
Unit Load Device ; a container or pallet shaped to exactly fit in a certain aircraft
Unit Load Device
See: Aircraft Unit Load Device
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)
Volume cut

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
Weight load factor
Tonne-kilometres performed expressed as a percentage of tonne-kilometres available. [ICAO]
Wide body aircraft

Priority Small Package (Express)
In Excess
Yield management
The process of maximizing the contribution (revenue) of the (air cargo 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

[last updated Feb 18, 2020]


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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.

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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 Spijker 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 Spijker 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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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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Hainan Airlines uses this as an operation abbreviation: CRC. Do you know what it signifies?

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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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