FREIGHT forwarders worldwide will, from this summer, have speedy access to Etihad Cargo’s capacity availability, as well as rates, schedules, quotations and bookings, thanks to a bespoke collaboration with digital disruptor CargoAi, writes Thelma Etim.

The airline’s partnership with the software-as-a-service company will enhance the airfreight division’s own online portal via the introduction of application programming interfaces (APIs) that allow customers’ otherwise conflicting systems to transparently access Etihad’s live data – “with staggering simplicity,” says a statement.

The youthful Middle East carrier, which began operations as recently as 2003 and is unencumbered by legacy systems, has digitalisation at the core of its business strategy and culture and, since its inception, has continuously invested in new technologies, reaching numerous digital milestones, the company adds.

The pandemic has not interrupted the carrier’s technological fervour. For example, from October 2018, the freight division introduced the IBS iCargo technology platform SPRINT which combines bookings and reservations in a simple digital process. Then, in March 2020, Etihad Cargo added a mobile app which provides “anywhere, any time of the day and night” shipment tracking, which generates special alerts that denote the moment an individual shipment has been received, departed, arrived and delivered.

Four months later, the airline then decided to automate its previously manual regulatory shipment screening process which was put in place to ensure compliance with the myriad of constantly changing international trade sanctions and air transport industry regulations. This move was aimed in particular at dramatically reducing human errors – and mitigating against any subsequent fines and penalties, whilst improving overall efficiency. To determine whether an individual entity should be sanctioned under the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control’s ‘50 per cent rule’, the system now screens hundreds of blacklists maintained by government agencies across the world.

Martin Drew, senior vice-president of sales and cargo at Etihad Aviation Group, emphasises how digitalisation has been at the core of Etihad Cargo’s strategy, especially over the last three to five years, and continues to be a focus in streamlining processes across the airfreight world. “Our partnership with CargoAi supports this vision, and provides an additional tool which delivers a rapid and fluid digital booking services platform,” he says.

Matthieu Petot, chief executive of CargoAi, notes that new client Etihad Cargo is a cutting-edge, highly innovative carrier in the field of digital airfreight. “We are fortunate to have the chance to be the first provider to use their latest modern APIs. As cargo capacities worldwide are still restricted, e-marketing the Etihad Cargo offer on our platform is clearly a major opportunity for our freight forwarder clients,” he says.

The Singapore-based software company has created an extensive, regularly-updated cargo flights schedule listing which encompasses 620 airlines and 3,023 airports around the world. Last month, CargoAi added Finnair Cargo to an impressive list of clients which include CHAMP Cargosystems, TUI, Condor and SunClass – the cargo sales functions for which are managed by general sales and services agency ECS Group. The company has also entered into a partnership with fellow digital disruptor IBS Software. 

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