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Freightos looks to bring United Airlines air cargo service online

Israel-based startup to build backend software platform to bring rates and bookings online.

(Photo: Jim Allen)

Freightos, the software as a service (SaaS) platform for the freight industry, is building an online pricing and booking platform for air cargo for one the biggest airlines in the world.

United Continental (NYSE: UAL) plans to use Freightos’ WebCargo Horizon platform as the back-end system for on-demand booking, dynamic pricing and real-time updates for its United Airlines air cargo business. 

The project for United, which will take a couple of months to deploy, marks a shift for WebCargo, which Freightos acquired in 2016. WebCargo is providing an online marketplace for air cargo capacity at three of Europe’s largest airlines.

Those other airlines, though, built their own internal pricing and booking engines that connect to the WebCargo market. 

For United, WebCargo will build the internal system for pricing and booking cargo. With the internal platform, Freightos Chief Executive Zvi Schreiber said United will be able to offer air cargo through its own site or through a third-party marketplace.

“We want to make sure airlines have the digital capability to offer their air cargo capacity,” Schreiber said. “Most airlines have not been able to do that by themselves.”

United, which does about $1 billion in air cargo sales annually, is still relying on largely manual processes for selling and booking air cargo space, Schreiber said. As do many airlines, United sends out rates on spreadsheets and customers use email or phone to book space.

“Air cargo is what you pay for when something is urgent,” Schreiber said. “You lose a day or two in the process of receiving quotes and booking the space. All of this adds to the transit time.”

United’s pricing and booking engine will be powered through cloud computing services, Schreiber said. The advantage is that any surge in online queries or bookings can be handled through adding computing power, which can be done more easily than through on-premise computing power.

“Airlines have been quite conservative in that they tend to have systems on premises,” Schreiber said. “This is really new for airlines and allows them to be online at less cost and with more flexibility.”