Is that an online purchase? Just throw it on the baggage conveyor!

Might this KLM 737-800 be carrying e-commerce parcels?
Might this KLM 737-800 be carrying e-commerce parcels?

On 15 December, Netherlands-based Parcel International launched a new intra-Europe same-day delivery service in cooperation with KLM and Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (AMS).

The potentially revolutionary service, known as “12Send”, offers first-mile pickup (from online sellers in the Schiphol catchment area), places parcels in a trackable tote, and drops the packages into Schiphol’s baggage system. From there the baggage system routes the parcels to the appropriate aircraft flying to cities within KLM’s European network, much like a piece of passenger luggage. At the destination airport, 12Send takes over again by retrieving the parcel from the airport and providing last-mile delivery to the consumer, using electric vans or e-bikes.

An initial pilot program for same-day service was launched on KLM routes between Amsterdam (AMS) and Barcelona (BCN) in October. After two months of successful trial operations, the service was expanded to destinations “Europe-wide”.  From its hub in Amsterdam, KLM offers multiple daily flights to most major European cities, enabling 12Send to offer same-day delivery within Europe by 11pm, for packages received before 11am.

Casper Plat, Partner at Parcel International, said the service targets many e-commerce commodities for which customers demand same-day delivery, like books and clothing.  Dangerous goods, live animals, tobacco, alcohol, and lithium batteries are currently prohibited from  flying with 12Send, and parcels must fit in totes with dimensions of 60 x 40 x 35 cm (see photo of blue totes below).

In recent years it has been no secret that express and postal airfreight logistics providers have benefited disproportionately from the surge in cross-border e-commerce transactions.  Indeed, some forwarders and express providers have found ways to consolidate and move shipments within the bellies of passenger aircraft – but rarely through an airline’s baggage system. The big question is: If 12Send works, how scalable might such a solution be? Could this be the answer for airlines hoping to connect e-freight to the abundant bellyspace capacity that goes unused on short-haul passenger flights?

Now for a quick overview of the process:

1. E-commerce packages within the Amsterdam catchment area are retrieved by a 12Send courier:

2. Totes are then dropped into KLM’s baggage system, and loaded onto the appropriate aircraft:

3. Totes are retrieved from the destination airport by local courier:

4. Lastly, the 12Send courier delivers the parcel by 11pm:

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