Digital cargo booking gains ground with new cargo.one deals

Leisure Cargo, a subsidiary of Berlin-based Zeitfracht Group an all-cargo virtual carrier that offers cargo space with fourteen carriers, is now bookable through the cargo.one platform. The platform allows cargo customers to book capacity on participating carriers at live spot rates and is one of several electronic booking platforms making inroads into an industry known for its slow adoption of innovative technology.

This isn’t the first time the air cargo industry has tried to normalize web-based cargo booking. Global Freight Exchange (GF-X), a web-based system for buying and selling air freight capacity, launched in September 2000, with participants including Cargolux, Emirates, American Airlines, among others, and was eventually acquired by Descartes. However, more innovative industries were still only beginning to realize the business potential of the internet at the time, and cargo booking has remained low-tech compared to most sectors.

Some operators in the space have taken the lead on pushing forward innovation in air cargo. Lufthansa Cargo stands out as an early adopter of the new model of air cargo booking. In addition to the Leisure Cargo deal, cargo.one signed a cooperation deal with Lufthansa Cargo this month. The deal allows for real-time freight booking on Lufthansa Cargo’s available capacity, including its td.Flash express product and td.Pro product for standard freight.

Also this month, Lufthansa Cargo signed a deal with online freight pricing platform Freightos. Under the deal, which connects Freightos WebCargo with Lufthansa Cargo’s application programming interface (API), forwarders will be able to book cargo in real-time at contracted rates. Booking capabilities under the deal will first be rolled out across major European markets before expanding globally in upcoming months.

Digital cargo booking is an important step toward reducing average air cargo transit times, which IATA estimates at just under six days, even though the flights themselves take only hours. The manual management of air freight adds significantly to the processing time, which can be reduced through digital management, but many airlines still lack the technology, like Lufthansa Cargo’s API, required to take booking digital. Lufthansa Cargo’s CEO Peter Gerber said the benefits of speed and convenience to cargo customers of digitalization have “given rise to new expectations with which both carriers and freight forwarders are confronted.” Considering the increasingly fast delivery customers expect with the rise of e-commerce, we won’t be surprised to see other carriers digitalize to meet those expectations.

Those interested in learning more about the cutting-edge technologies that are reshaping the air cargo industry are invited to join us at Cargo Facts EMEA 2019, to be held in Frankfurt 5-6 February at The Westin Grand Frankfurt. The event’s exciting agenda was designed to explore air freight issues through the lens of emerging technology and innovation. For more information, or to register, visit https://www.cargofactsemea.com 

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