Global insight

Qatar first to break air cargo language barrier

Qatar first to break air cargo language-barrier

AT LAST, the air cargo industry is able to speak the same language, writes Nigel Tomkins.

The introduction of a new, cost-saving air cargo messaging system – that everyone else can universally understand – is a major development led by Qatar Airways Cargo and airline association IATA.

It means airlines, forwarders, ground handlers, shippers and Customs authorities – who until now have been using conflicting languages to get their messages across – can communicate without intermediaries or digital translators.

Qatar Airways Cargo – the world’s third largest international cargo carrier – has become the first to implement and integrate Cargo-XML (Cargo Extensible Mark-up Language), the industry’s groundbreaking new digital messaging standard. Installing it into CROAMIS, the Doha-based airline’s core air cargo management system, inaugurates a major industry-wide improvement in facilitating trade growth and enhancing cargo security.

Cargo-XML messaging will become the preferred standard for electronic communication between airlines and other air cargo stakeholders such as shippers, forwarders, ground handling agents, regulators, as well as Customs and security agencies, the airline insists in a statement from Doha.

Language-barrier breakthrough will optimise the supply chain

In an industry held back by awkward or incomplete translations of mixed computer messages, the new IATA-inspired platform allows different computer systems to accurately exchange messages. Removing the language-barrier in electronic information exchange in air cargo will bring “innumerable benefits to all members in the supply chain”, says the airline.

The new platform eliminates the constraints posed by the traditional Cargo Interchange Message Procedures (Cargo-IMP) standard and promotes greater and seamless data interfaces. It also supports easier transmission of more electronic documents, thereby streamlining many air cargo processes, whilst also reducing costs.

Commenting on this remarkable development, Ulrich Ogiermann, Qatar Airways’ chief officer of cargo, enthuses: “Qatar Airways Cargo is already at the forefront, collaborating with IATA on other such initiatives. With the implementation of this new messaging standard we are now able to offer numerous benefits to our partners in the supply chain, including [our] customers and [those] regulatory authorities who have adopted Cargo-XML.”

With this development, Qatar Airways is “bringing the freight industry one step closer to achieving messaging standardisation on a global scale,” observes Glyn Hughes, IATA’s global head of cargo. “Achieving alignment across the industry – IATA’s goal – facilitates trade growth and improves cargo security,” he adds.

Cargo-XML specifications are compatible with other industry standards such as those of the World Customs Organisation (WCO) and International Standards Organisation (ISO). This means that adopting a common messaging standard for all air cargo shipments will lead to the transfer of technically correct information between airlines and Customs departments.

Cargo-XML will enable Qatar Airways Cargo to enhance its information exchange directly with customers and other business stakeholders,  reducing the dependency on messaging intermediaries and other associated costs. It perfectly complements the carrier’s existing e-initiatives such as e-AWB, e-freight, e-CSD and e-booking.

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