Efforts to digitise and modernise the air cargo booking process are gaining momentum, with a “world first” from Sinotrans.
Today, the group’s air freight division, Sinoair, announced that customers would be able to book air freight via its new e-booking platform, launched in partnership with Freightos.
Shippers will be able to get global contract rates, dynamic pricing and receive instant booking confirmation from some 10 airlines. Freightos explained that while it has some 370 airlines signed up, only about 10 offer instant pricing and booking, while include Lufthansa, IAG and AF-KLM carriers.
Sinoair hopes the move will attract more than one million shipments booked online each year and claims the platform is “the world’s first direct customer to air e-booking platform”.
It said existing online booking sites cater only for freight forwarders, while agents and shippers can also use Sinoair’s.
“Sinoair is proud to be leading the air cargo industry online and continuously raising the bar,” said Sinoair deputy general manager Liu Xin-Yang.
“We take our responsibility to provide a best-in-class air cargo experience for all our customers seriously. Freightos is our trusted partner, enabling us to offer e-booking to all, something the air cargo industry has never seen before.”
Freightos chief executive Zvi Schreiber said Sinoair had shown “courage” to “shift an enormous part of the air cargo industry online”.
The news follows developments at Cargolux, which last week launched its own online booking tool for its forwarder customers.
Powered by PROS, it offers customers “a faster, frictionless and more personalised buying experience, making it easier to do business how and when the customer wishes”.
“Our mission is to deliver superior digital sales experience for customers with AI-powered price optimisation, quoting and revenue management solutions,” said Domenico Ceci, Cargolux executive vice-president sales & marketing.
“This new tool considers all the customer requirements in a single location to guarantee the right offer is made to every customer, every time.”
However, forwarders have expressed doubt that they have time to visit individual airline platforms to shop around, which is why some have backed multi-airline platforms such as Freightos’s WebCargo and Cargo.one.
In other news from Cargolux, after a year of “intense negotiations” – noticeably, none of which spilled out into the press – the carrier has signed collective work agreements with its two unions, LCGB and OGBL, covering up to the end of 2022.
The agreements will see more than 1,300 staff gain “substantial improvements”, with salary increases of 6% for ground staff and 4% for pilots over the contract length. Staff hired since 2016 will get “additional adjustments of salaries, off-day and vacation entitlements, bringing all staff to similar levels”.
Chief executive Richard Forson said: “This agreement cements job security within our company while contributing to Cargolux’s sustainability on both social and economic fronts.”
Paul de Araujo, LCGB union secretary, added: “The improvements in the new agreement became necessary after the employees’ concessions made in the previous collective labour agreement. The new agreement addresses the main concerns of our members; a salary increase, improved work-life balance for employees and the pilots’ flight time limitations. The elimination of what has often been referred to as ‘B-Scale’ should make it possible for Cargolux to hire the staff it needs.”
Michelle Cloos, OGBL central secretary, noted the improved “work-life balance” of staff, and their contributions towards Cargolux’s improved financial results.