Lot of El-Al aircrafts  at Ben-Gurion Airport. Israel
© Vadim Lerner

El Al has joined an online booking platform, claiming there is less risk in getting involved early than in leaving it late.  

As the carrier announced it had joined Lufthansa and AirBridgeCargo on the cargo.one platform, Ronan Spira, head of cargo for El Al, said: “To be frank, there is probably less risk in entering a young market and learning under those conditions than arriving late to a developed market without a good understanding of how to participate effectively.  

“I can imagine other carriers either believe they do not have resources or the right knowledge in place to begin a digital distribution project. However, this threshold is much lower when working with a capable partner.” 

It took 12 weeks to integrate El Al onto the platform, and it has now made its first online booking, with Hellmann for a shipment from Frankfurt to Miami. 

“Being able to see bookable offers of different airlines … at a glance, makes it ten times easier for us to find and book the right offer,” said Hellmann export operator Robin Keilmann. 

However, Mr Spira said airfreight still had a long way to go in its digital efforts. 

“A lot of inefficiency and friction exist today in how airfreight is booked and in how data quality is ensured throughout the process following bookings. Not only can inefficiency be removed, but the responsiveness of the air freight supply chain will be improved with digitalisation. 

“Progressing down this journey as early as possible allows us to develop our capabilities over the coming months and years. There are no opportunity costs … and it makes complete sense for an airline to start these projects as early as possible.” 

But he added this was just the first part of a journey for El Al.

“There remain many business processes to digitise and integrations to improve. This is a journey and while we have now taken the first steps, we need to drive what we have already learned, continue to learn and execute on it.” 

Digitisation does not only concern the booking process. Virgin Atlantic and Delta Cargo’s new export facility at Heathrow has embraced new technology, which will deliver “significant improvements and transparency”, claim the carriers. 

While the headline news is that the dnata City East facility offers the airlines double the handling capabilities they previously had, the facility also offers Gatehouse technology. 

This means drivers arriving no longer need to leave their vehicles to complete documentation processes and are immediately assigned to a cargo door to offload their freight. They also receive text message updates to help expedite cargo deliveries.

Real-time acceptance using the operation’s door management system and hand-held technology provides instant freight status update messages for customers to confirm their cargo is being handled and flown as planned. Screens inside the facility, linked directly to the airlines’ operations control centres, enable flight monitoring and the management of service level agreements. The facility also has new x-ray technology with enhanced imaging capability, reducing the need for secondary cargo screening. 

“The technology enhancements and the transparency across the export operation, with increased temperature-controlled facilities, are designed to make it easier for our customers to work with both airlines,” said Rafael Figueroa, Delta Cargo’s managing director – operations and customer experience. 

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