United Cargo: big plans after blazing a trail through the pandemic
Two carriers in particular stand out for their flexibility and speed in shifting cargo at ...
The air cargo industry’s paper chase continues – but with less fanfare, and at a greater pace than before.
American Airlines Cargo is now up to 75% e-air waybills (eAWB) on compliant trade lanes – finding that its decision to charge forwarders fees, an idea pioneered by Lufthansa Cargo – was working.
“When we will get to 100%? That’s the question I keep asking,” said Rick Eliseon, president cargo. “It’s difficult, sometimes you need a more localised approach.
“We find places like Hong Kong have a lot of penetration already, it’s really high. But it’s more difficult in Dallas, Chicago, which are big hubs with lots of players.”
The carrier has three waves in its strategy to get to 100% eAWBs. “We realised we wouldn’t get there in one bite,” said Mr Eliseson. “Smaller forwarders don’t necessarily want to invest, so we’ve implemented a portal they can use so they don’t have to invest themselves.”
While Lufthansa and AA, which began asking for fees for paper AWBs in 2017, have both said they hope not to collect a penny in fines, other carriers have remained sceptical about forcing customer change.
“We have a significant number of eAWBs now,” said Virgin Atlantic Cargo chief Dominic Kennedy. “There are geographical nuances to it – it’s coming to the fore in certain markets.
“eAWBs have a huge advantage for customers in operational efficiency,” but he added the carrier would not implement fees for paper.
“We are not in the business of telling customers what they can and can’t do.”
Lufthasna Cargo meanwhile, has developed its eFreight offering, enabling its customers to receive digital cargo acceptance. By using self-service terminals and apps, and the digital transfer of shipment data and status updates, customers can save time, it claimed.
It offers a PreCheck service before delivery to ensure the data is accurate and complete, and customers then receive a status update and the go-ahead to deliver or collect goods. Parcels are registered via scanner at some locations, determining size and weight.
The new offering has been piloted with about 100 customers, and is now available in Frankfurt and another 15 destinations, with the carrier rolling it out to more places in the coming months.