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Vol cargo ou passager : que choisir pour vos transports ?

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There are two different types of aircraft that can carry goods: the classic passenger aircraft (PAX) and the cargo or freight aircraft (freighter), which only carry goods and equipment.

The cargo holds of passenger aircraft carry 70-80% of the cargo that has no particular restrictions.

What you should know about cargo and passenger aircraft?

The main difference for shippers is the height of the cargo hold on passenger aircraft, which is 160 centimeters on the lower deck for long-haul aircraft and any pallet higher than 160 centimeters will have to travel on a freighter.

There are also restrictions on width and length. They vary according to the type of aircraft used.

The cargo compartments of cargo aircraft, which can be located on the main deck as well as on the lower deck, are 2 to 4.5 meters high and therefore allow the transport of larger goods.

As the rates can be higher on cargo aircraft, especially for small consignments, due to less regular rotations, it is preferable to use pallets less than 160 centimeters high in order to limit transport costs.

Implication for dangerous goods

Cargo aircraft therefore have two main advantages:

  • They cover the transport of large goods.
  • They allow the transport of certain dangerous goods or regulated products prohibited on passenger flights

In fact, in the IATA dangerous goods regulations, two types of products are distinguished:

  • “CAO - Cargo Aircraft Only" goods, which are only accepted on cargo flights.
  • “OK PAX" goods, which are accepted in the hold of both passenger aircraft and cargo flights

This classification depends on the UN code, the gross weight of the associated goods and the weight of the dangerous goods per package. It is also to be indicated on the dangerous goods declaration (DGD).

💡 To go further into the transportation of dangerous goods by air, you can consult this article: Example of lithium batteries

For any questions about the 2 types of aircraft, you can contact