The new transport legislation has been in charge of establishing the difference between cargo and package and delimiting its scope. The client must be documented to properly contract each service and go beyond that border.

The relocation of production factors; the fabric of complex distribution networks and the intensive use of efficient telecommunication technologies are only part of the answer that logistics and transport have offered to a new way of consuming: faster and more personalized.

To exemplify the above, just look at the incredible range of models offered by the various assemblers in the Mexican market; the promptness with which the clothing industry responds to any international fashion sign. And what about the novelties in electronic devices that almost make articles obsolete when paying for them in the store.

In this context, air cargo and parcels (with their speed and agility characteristics) have become the key factors in responding to the demands of the final consumer and, therefore, of global industry and commerce.

Air cargo service and parcel and courier services (P&M) have been revealed as the most impressive logistics offers in this new wave of transport technology.

Indeed, these logistics services have been successfully developed under a scheme to reduce operating times. However, the aforementioned, both services face the same challenges in the current process of economic globalization: not only has to do with speed but with its ability to integrate into distribution processes, often combining both services and/or adding others.

Distinguishing Freight Transportation From Parcel Services

The first thing we must do is describe briefly the operation and legal framework of both. Air transport is responsible for moving more than 40% of goods worldwide (measured in dollar value, ICAO press release, Montreal, June 27, 2011). However, most of the air cargo moves in mixed aircraft.

This means that although there is a clear growth trend in this sector, it is still necessary to resort to a large extent to aircraft in which its upper cabin (main deck) transports passengers, while the lower part or warehouses (lower deck) carry it. intended for the transportation of air cargo. These are aircraft of the type: Boeing 737-300, Airbus A320-200 and Boeing 777-200).

Of course, cargo aircraft also operate, which since their manufacture are configured to transport cargo exclusively. This is the case of the Boeing 747-400. There is no shortage of aircraft known as "combi" that reduce the passenger-carrying capacity of its main cabin to allocate a larger area for cargo transportation.

Its services are also provided by super transport aircraft, capable of moving loads of up to 270 tons, such as the Antonov 225 and others that compete for heavy and bulky loads such as the Boeing 747 and the Airbus A380.

Legal Framework Applicable to Air Cargo

The two systems that regulate the air cargo transportation service in Mexico are the Civil Aviation Law (DO May 12, 1995) and the Airports Law (DO December 22, 1995), with their respective regulations. It is worth clarifying that unlike what happens in other means of transport, in the air, regular service routes are not allowed but are concessioned.

At the international level, although the International (private) Air Transport Association (IATA) is the entity that proposes most of the operational characteristics for the transport of passengers and cargo, it must be remembered that it is the government agencies that impose the mandatory regulations for its operation.

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) stands out, which recently together with the World Customs Organization (WCO) signed a memorandum that will strengthen the cooperation required to protect air cargo against acts of terrorism and other criminal activities, a top priority worldwide. With this foundation, the Mexican government has imposed a series of additional measures as of July 1 of this year, which all those involved in these services must know in detail.

Relationship Between Parcels and Air Cargo

Within the framework of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the General Agreement on Trade in Services, Parcel, and Courier services are defined as “a service of reception, transport, and delivery, local or international, of documents and packages through one or more means of transport ”.

Due to the versatility of this type of service, aircraft and land facilities are normally used.

It is necessary to clarify that the Civil Aviation Law expressly speaks of postal transport (a service contracted by UPS Company) but does not speak of parcel delivery. Thus, when one of these companies contracts the air service to move their packages, they become air cargo and recover their package status when they continue their journey by land.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, if the parcel company has its own aircraft, then the entire logistics chain will operate with packages and at no time is a different transport service subcontracted.


From a commercial (and liability) perspective, parcel services can also be distinguished from freight service in that there is no intermediary between the customer and the company that offers parcel and courier services. This is responsible throughout the journey to the customer (even if it subcontracts to third parties) and is responsible for offering complete monitoring of the package.

Thus, many P&M companies can offer a comprehensive door-to-door logistics service that includes receipt, wrapping, labeling or packaging, transfer and final delivery of the goods or documents.

Backed by a strong logistics network, they can handle both domestic and international cargo with impressive delivery speed as shown in the following examples:

  • International import with delivery within two to five days.
  • Extremely urgent shipments with a guaranteed delivery commitment before 7:45 a.m. the next business day, Monday through Friday.

Parcel and courier services differ from Freight, especially in the range of additional services they offer:

  • Route shipments to multiple destinations.
  • Notification of exceptions.
  • Store orders for up to 30 days at no cost.
  • Collection.
  • Acknowledgment of receipt, electronic acknowledgment, return document.
  • Optional insurance, e-commerce.

With the expansion of online shopping and in general e-commerce, parcels and air cargo will only grow steadily in the years to come.

Legal Framework of P&m and Its Borders With Motor Transport

In the field of land transport, P&M is a service that regulates the Ministry of Communications and Transport (SCT) through article 58 of the Federal Roads, Bridges and Motor Transport Law. Which required regulation for its proper operation, which was published (finally) in the Official Gazette of the Federation (DOF), on March 29, 2011.

This put an end to a long controversy in which the freight forwarders of UPS freight on federal roads demanded that the parcel companies not transport packages that due to their weight seemed more like cargo. Easily Manage and track packages from UPSers.

Thus, the provision of the service must be carried out in unitary trucks type van or closed box of two axles with four or six tires, whose gross vehicle weight does not exceed 11 tons (in accordance with NOM SCT 012 on weights and dimensions). Additionally, the packages will have a maximum weight of 31.5 kilograms and must be properly wrapped and labeled or with packaging that allows their handling, distribution, and delivery.

This does not prevent a parcel company from subcontracting to third-party motor carriers of the federal public service. In this case, it will happen the same as with air transport, in the sense that when the cargo travels on federal roads your package becomes cargo and when you continue your way to your final destination in your units, you will be delivering a package.

Air Cargo or Parcel?

We have seen how air cargo and parcel services offer extraordinary logistical advantages to users. Therefore, the most important thing is that the client is the one who determines the nature of the cargo when selecting the service:

  1. If you have merchandise weighing 31.5 kilograms and deliver it to an air cargo company (consolidated service) that package will be will convert into cargo and will be provided with an air waybill (in accordance with article 36, II of the regulations of the Civil Aviation Law) for said service.
  2. If you send it by parcel, it becomes a package and a freight or guide letter is delivered. (In accordance with article 2 of the respective regulation).

All responsibility for taking advantage of these two services (signs of the new millennium) falls on the user. As with other means of transport, the customer must know the most about logistics in order to successfully hire the links in their logistics chain and if what they need is speed and agility, with only two options left.

Author's Bio: 

Hey guys, I am Mahesh Vitta. I am a Computer Science engineer currently pursuing my 3 Year at the University of Texas, New York. I am more passionate about Technology, Business and Games !!