Copyright 2002, Traffic World Magazine
Southwest Airlines Cargo now offers a door-to-door, next-flight, guaranteed service using the NextJet technology platform. The door-to-door service offering is similar to United Cargo's Sameday service and American Airlines Cargo's AAToday, both using NextJet technology for online quotes, booking and tracking, but the difference is that Southwest's goes only where Southwest Airlines flies. United and American use the NextJet technology to offer same-day transportation anywhere in the country, booking space on a wide variety of airlines.
"NextJet's technology allows Southwest Cargo to expand the suite of expedited delivery services that we currently offer to our customers," said Mack Sikorski, director of cargo. "This partnership is an important part of our commitment to provide Southwest customers with the best, most efficient shipping solutions available today."
NextJet is one of the few transportation dot-coms to survive 2001. "Our philosophy from the beginning was based on real business metrics, despite what was going on around us," said NextJet CEO Steve O'Brien. "We set out to build a business with real revenue and real profit margins." Speaking of profit, O'Brien said the company is close to operating in the black and hopes for a profit in the third quarter.
NextJet operates its own website offering same-day shipping to anyone once certified as a known shipper. But the real muscle of the company is coming from its behind-the-scenes technology solutions like the Southwest Cargo offering. "A lot of people are encouraged by our technology," said O'Brien, acknowledging that getting airlines to adopt something new is not an easy task.
The door-to-door offering isn't cheap. While most forwarder customers use airport-to-airport services and use their own ground networks for final delivery, this offering provides the whole transportation solution for an individual or business that doesn't do high-volume shipping but needs the shipment urgently. The airlines, through NextJet, and NextJet.com are offering solutions to compete with same-day experts like Emery Expedite and United Parcel Service's SonicAir.
NextJet's customer audience is "everything that lies outside the box," said O'Brien, alluding to packages that don't fit within the time constraints of UPS and FedEx's overnight systems.
NextJet has the challenge of providing guaranteed service using the notoriously unpredictable scheduled passenger-airline system. The decrease in capacity actually has helped service, said O'Brien, because there is more time to pay attention to each shipment. Its technology monitors on-time performance of every flight in the country, so it is able to predict which flights to avoid.