Qatar Airways, the world’s second-largest cargo airline, has signed onto WebCargo’s digital freight marketplace, which gives freight forwarders the ability to quickly compare live rates and capacity, and electronically book shipments.
Logistics companies in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, South Africa and Spain will be able to access Qatar’s real-time supply and instantly make cargo reservations beginning Feb. 7, the companies announced Wednesday.
As part of the launch, Qatar Airways Cargo said it will offer promotional rates resulting in an average saving of 6 cents per kilogram for the first 20,000 shipments booked via the platform in those countries.
The deal significantly increases the number of choices available to freight forwarders. Qatar Airways serves more than 60 freighter destinations with a fleet of two Boeing 747-8, 24 Boeing 777 and four Airbus A330 cargo planes. It also carries cargo in its large fleet of twin-aisle passenger jets and is second only to FedEx Express in terms of airfreight demand.
WebCargo parent Freightos, cargo.one and Unisys Corp.’s Cargo Portal are the primary leaders in multicarrier booking platforms, and each continues to line up partners as airline customers increasingly seek more rapid, accurate service.
Airlines need to make technology investments to directly connect with third-party platforms. More than two dozen carriers are sharing their reservation systems with WebCargo, and the company says more than 2,000 forwarders are users. Some airlines — Lufthansa Cargo, Etihad Cargo and AirBridge Cargo, as well as leisure airlines Condor, TUI and Sunclass — belong to WebCargo and cargo.one.
Last month, cargo.one raised $42 million in venture capital investment.
The advantage of automatically connecting the forwarders’ transportation management system with airline reservation systems is more predictable, transparent pricing and capacity information that can be confirmed instantly, as passengers are used to when booking tickets. But in the air cargo industry, most online booking is still manual because the carrier must manually confirm the price and booking in the system. In many cases, phone calls and emails are also required to finalize a booking.
Doha-based Qatar Airways Cargo has added several digital features in recent months, including online rate distribution, ad hoc rate automation, track and trace and direct connections to its back-end system through an application user interface.
“The future of air cargo is indeed digital and this change will definitely bring in efficiency across the supply chain,” Qatar Airways Chief Cargo Officer Guillaume Halleux said in a statement.
Freightos, which also offers a multimodal rate management system, acquired Barcelona-based WebCargo in 2016. Founded by serial entrepreneur Zvi Schreiber, Freightos has raised $94.4 million from leading venture funds, including GE Ventures and the Singapore Exchange.