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Aerial cubing in international logistics: how does it work?

08 de abril de 2021

Just as sea shipping has its own rules for defining values and cargo limits, whoever exports or imports goods by plane needs to adapt to a specific model: aerial cubing.

Aerial cubing is nothing more than the formula that companies use to charge basic air freight, considering three basic pieces of information: number of volumes, dimensions (length, width and height) and gross weight.

The main function of cubing is to check the weight, in relation to the volume, that the goods to be transported will occupy in the cargo area of the plane. Large items with a light weight typically take up more space on an aircraft than small, heavy items.


The cargo dimensions are used to calculate the cubic weight (volumetric) and compared to the actual weight of the shipment. Vanessa Carolina da Silva, Air product analyst at Allog, explains that the calculation is used as the basis for charging freight. Always consider volume versus weight.

“Based on aerial cubage, freight charges take place more fairly for all air transport users. Even for the transporter ”, explains Vanessa.

>>> ALSO CHECK – Air transport: why hire a freight forwarder?

If a light cargo of large dimensions has the freight calculated only by the gross weight, other users may be harmed. In the aerial cubage model, the exporter or importer will have to pay the amount referring to the space used by the cargo in the aircraft, even carrying a small and heavy one.


When the cargo exceeds the standard measurement of the aircraft, the freight charge may be charged at a weight taxed by the company itself, regardless of the result of the cubing calculation. This is because the goods can occupy more than one position within the cargo area of the plane. When this occurs, a mooring can be done in another position. This is in order not to compromise the stability of the goods during transport.

Therefore, the airline needs to surcharge the weight of the goods so that the extra space used is paid in some way.


Regulated by the International Air Transpot Association (IATA), the formula for aerial cubing defines that 1 m³ should not exceed 166.667 kg. Or that every 1000 grams should have a maximum of 6000 cm³.

The calculation considers the space of the aircraft, loading and unloading operation and all the logistics of air freight. Considering this information, we can calculate the aerial cubage of a cargo as follows:

Necessary informations:

– Volume quantity
– Dimensions (length, width and height)
– Gross weight

1st calculation: Length x Width x Height = ____ x number of packages = ____ total cbm
2nd calculation: total CBM in meters x 166.667kgs = ___ cubed weight or total CBM in cm / 6000 = ____ cubed
3rd calculation: Comparison of cubed weight x gross weight = ____ the highest amount will be used to charge international air freight

Aerial cubing


3 boxes measuring 0.30 x 0.50 x 0.50 m each (LxWxH) and weighing 10 kg each

Total CBM: 0.30 x 0.50 x 0.50 m = 0.075 m³ x 3 boxes = 0.225 m³

Total gross weight: 10 kgs x 3 boxes = 30 kgs

Cubed weight: 0.225m³ x 166.667kgs = 37.50kgs or 225,000.00cm³ / 6000 = 37.50kgs

Taxed weight: 37.50kgs (the highest between gross weight and cubed weight)

Do you want to understand more about the air cube model or quote air freight for your company?

Aerial cubing

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