Perishable cargo can be defined as goods that will deteriorate over a given period of time or if exposed to adverse temperature, humidity or other environmental conditions. Foodstuffs, plant materials, hatching eggs and medical supplies are typical examples of perishable goods carried regularly as air cargo. In some cases, the term "perishable cargo" will cover shipments which are also classified as "live animals" – typical examples are eels, lobsters, crabs, shrimp, fish. It is essential that for these shipments, the provisions of the IATA Live Animals Regulations be applied.
There are many characteristics of air cargo which make it the preferred means of transportations for perishable goods. The speed, reliability, economics and controlled conditions of carriage by air provide the ideal method for exporters of perishable commodities to service existing markets and develop new ones. But the special nature of perishable cargo calls for specials attentions to be paid to packaging, handling and other aspects of the transportation process.
To avoid risk of delay, perishable shipments should travel as booked cargo. Shippers should be encouraged to reserve space for all perishable consignments and to do this in sufficient time for the airline to make whatever arrangements are necessary.
Perishables should always be sent on the most direct route, with fewest transit stops, thereby minimizing the elapsed time and eliminating unnecessary climatic changes. When a transfer from one fight to another is unavoidable, connecting times must be carefully considered as some shipments may require re-icing or temporary storage in a temperature-controlled area such as a cool-room or freezer.
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