How to Start a Air Freight Business

If you are contemplating starting a freight forwarding business, there are two ways you can take: a commercial cargo carrier or freight forwarder.

Learn from our basic guide what is in common with both businesses as well as what are the specific needs for each type of air cargo business.

Starting an air freight business is not for the faint of heart or the would-be businessman. The fact that it is an air business means it is high-tech, expensive and complicated big time. There are two ways one can enter the air freight business – as a commercial cargo carrier or as a freight forwarder.

How to Own an Air Freight Business

If you want to be a cargo carrier, what you need most is a plane or fleet of planes to carry cargo from destination to another. You will not need to own a plane if you are a freight forwarder, but you will have to use a commercial carrier, just the same. For both, you will need to have existing contacts in other states or countries, a network of offices, agents or partners to facilitate the movement of cargo from one place to another, extensive knowledge on international air transport rules, and sharp business acumen.

Air Transport Business Processes

The transport of packages by air involves these major steps: the procurement of the papers to allow transport of goods, the carrying of the goods by air from the point of origin to a major city with an airport, and the transportation of the goods from the airport to the specific point of destination either by boat, car, motorcycle, truck or another smaller plane.

Air Freight Business Must-have

To accomplish these processes you will need facilities, people, contracts and software. For the facilities, you will need a warehouse or an office for the in-between storage of goods and merchandise. You might also need trucks, or delivery vans to carry the shipment by land. Or you will have to secure a contract with smaller trucking delivery services. And it is a must that you have an efficient tracking system to monitor shipment. And to man your operation, you need able personnel that are trained especially to handle the special working conditions of an air freight business. Expect to meet sensitive, explosive and highly wound situations.

If you are a smaller operator, the best way to succeed is to find a specific market to serve, specific goods to transport or specific destination (one that doesn’t have an air forwarder yet). Some freight forwarders specialize in carrying military cargo, or medical-related goods. Make a carefully researched business plan before starting.

For additional help and for trainings, visit the websites of the International Air Transport Association, Airforwarders Association , and International Federation of Freight Forwarders Association.


  • Saeed Bandas said on October 2, 2011
    Planing to apply for a new air cargo company and obtain an air operator certificate in Africa. Therefore, required to provide a business plan along with an application letter. Sincerely, Saeed
  • Michael Adkins said on January 29, 2012
    I am very interested in starting my own airfreight business mainly FROM USA TO AFRICA,EUROPE AND THE MIDDLE EAST.I WANT TO START BY PURCHASING A SMALL AIRPLANE AND THAN BUYING A 747 CARGO
  • Dr Bongisani said on May 2, 2012
  • Donald said on May 19, 2012
    I wish to start a local air cargo business within Nigeria. With the intention of growing this to other neighboring African countries. Professional advise would be appreciated.
  • Adeshina Ganiu said on August 14, 2012
    i reside in pretoria southafrica, pls where do i get information on how to start this business in southafrica. my name is adeshina and my contact number is 0729802746. thank you
  • Tebogo Mashigo said on August 28, 2012
    hi there i am based in south africa i want to start a air cargo company in to africa and same parts of Asia .
  • Roselyne said on September 27, 2012
    I have a shipping company for Fedex, post office and usps. I want to start an air cargo to Africa and South America. What license do I need and how do I go about starting. Am based in PA
  • Adnan said on November 15, 2012
    Our City is Dubai and I am planing to start logistics business in United Areab Emirates
  • steve said on November 18, 2012
    I would like to start an aircargo business between south Africa, Kenya an China. How do I get a license and what other requirements needs to be met?
  • ogboo emeka said on November 19, 2012
    I am from Nigeria, looking for a partner who wants to invest in aircargo business in Nigeria.
  • md shahjahan said on November 19, 2012
    I want to start air cargo business. at first I need a seller a cargo company. thanks.
  • John O. Madojemu said on December 16, 2012
    Already registered, but need further advice in becoming a successful Shipper and Freight Forwarder. Am located in Portsmouth, Virginia. Interested in servicing the US, and African markets.
  • Ntsoaki Motlhako said on March 7, 2013
    Hi there, I am South African establishing business in DRC and would like to get a cargo airline business, kindly advise how does one acquire the license and all legal documentations. Based in Johannesburg
  • osuboh dele chima said on April 9, 2013
    I need vital information on starting an air cargo business, i am situated in Nigeria my contact number 234-8026478190
  • Elzein said on April 27, 2013
    I want to start my cargo airline using 767f .i need some marketing and business plan from middle east europe china africa
  • EastPointAviation said on June 20, 2013
    East Point Aviation has been mandated to source for WET lease. 737 Cargo. Contact us through the company email.
  • Mable said on July 25, 2013
    Hi, am a Zambian based in Uk and would like to start air cargo business transporting goods such as clothing and other equipments to Zambia.Please advice the certificate I would need and how to go about it
  • Van C. said on February 26, 2014
    I want to start an air cargo business mainly from USA to Vietnam and China. I need help on how to start up and a written business plan.
  • mirza turnquest said on June 9, 2014
    what are the requirements to start a aircargo business between Fort Lauderdale U.S.A to Nassau Bahamas?
  • Thompson said on March 30, 2015
    i want to start an airfreight consolidation business mainly from china to Ghana, what do i need as a new entrant into this business.
  • Rashid mahmood said on April 7, 2015
    Hi everyone, We pacifica logistics (H.K), located in Hong Kong, looking for business partners around the world. At the moment our main market is Africa. Thanks
  • Benson omari said on April 15, 2015
    I would want to start a cargo airline from Kenya, juba, Hong Kong China and back to Kenya, I would want to partner with a well established company or investor, please contact me.
  • patrick aligawesa said on August 11, 2015
    I need a partner or investor to start an air cargo business world wide. please reply at
  • patrick aligawesa said on August 11, 2015
    I am based in Oakland, Ca. I need to partner or investor to start a low cost airline and cargo company in Uganda.
  • Randolph Humes said on September 7, 2015
    I would like to start my own air cargo transporting good from the florida region to the islands of the Bahamas very profitable
  • Icool4u said on March 12, 2016
    I'll love to start an Air Cargo business, i'll love to know more about the in boarding, out boarding things.
  • mailme said on March 20, 2016
    Would love to start a cargo business live in sweden would like to ship to africa, dubai, saudi, for instance. if your established already and like to work with me mail me
  • JULIUS said on March 25, 2016
  • Masixole Ntunguntwana said on March 31, 2016
    Hi, I am owning a Shipping Company called Coega Shipping (Pty) Ltd and I'm based in South Africa, Port Elizabeth. I want someone to partner in Air Cargo space or if anyone is interested please feel free to emal me:
  • vincent de paul said on April 29, 2017
    please i would like to start up freight business to Cameroon in Africa. Please a need advice and training
  • Adeyemi.O said on September 10, 2017
    Hello, My Name is Adeyemi my contact number is +2347013940735. I am in Nigeria and I want to start my own air freight business from u.s.a to Nigeria only please I need help and advice.
  • M Sirat said on March 2, 2018
    Looking to link up with an established air freight forwarding company to set up a small branch to complement the growing trade in ASEAN.
  • Simon Bula said on January 27, 2021
    Hello, I intend starting a shipping company. Basically shipping from Nigeria to USA,UK & CANADA. I will be glad to get details to facilitate on this giant venture. Thanks. +234 816 5794 208
  • Jenny J said on December 14, 2021
    If any on interested to start a Cargo Airliner, then please reach us, as we have all the resources, experience and can help in setting up the entire operations, sourcing of business etc in any region. However you should have enough funds to invest of setting up a Freighter Airliner, with min 2 big aircrafts. can reach us: sales(at)volvoair(dot)com (No space in the email id)
  • kavon said on March 26, 2022
    Interested in starting an Air Cargo Business From all over us to Africa, Europe, Asia, Jamaica, and many more i have a small location in Massachusetts with dock and have access of 2 26 ft box trucks with lift gate, and 3 tractors to pull containers Im very much ready to roll just need some help guidance and investors... email


    (All the above fields are required.)