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Increasing use of digital air cargo bookings despite Covid-19 outbreak


THE use of air cargo online booking portals looks set to increase over the coming months, despite a slowdown in growth during the height of the PPE capacity crunch.

Freightos chief marketing officer Eytan Buchman said its WebCargo booking platform, which has 22,000 users and claims to have the largest network of airlines, has seen a continuous increase in usage since its launch two year ago.

The pace of growth really picked up just over a year ago, he said, and added that around 10-15 per cent of capacity in available tonne km terms is now available through e-booking.

However, this year the move to online booking had slowed as a result of the air cargo capacity crunch experienced in April and May.

"The most interesting thing that has happened this year is that January, February and March were record years from our perspective," Mr Buchman said. "There was a spike due to Covid and the fact that routes were changing very quickly.

"Capacity was dropping, rates were changing and so it suddenly became more important to take advantage of things like e-booking.

Statistics from WebCargo show that e-booking was increasing at a rate of more than 700 per cent year on year in February and March before dropping back to between 300 per cent and 500 per cent in April and May, reports London's Air Cargo News.

"I think we are going to look back at Covid and say this was one of the points where e-booking really proved itself and it pushed the airlines that weren't doing it to get on board with it and certainly the freight forwarders that weren't integrated for e-booking to get on board with it."

Looking ahead, Mr Buchman said that WebCargo is beginning to roll out a new search consul, called Matrix View, that will more closely reflect the e-commerce platforms and booking portals that forwarders use in their personal lives. He explained the consul will provide various options when a search is made to give the user more options.

For example, the user may be happy for a slightly longer transport time if there are savings to be made on the freight rate. "It is really just mapping out the entire thing in front of you. All you do is put it in a general time frame of when you need it to land or when you need to send it and you have all of those options and you pick and choose. It is all based off live rates and actual capacity.

"The bigger picture is that freight is shifting over much more over to a consumer centric technology view."

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