Air freight software providers link up on digital booking

Air freight software providers link up on digital booking

Air freight quoting and booking is becoming increasingly electronic, but the transactions still remain mostly based on relationships between forwarders and cargo airlines. Photo credit: Shutterstock.com.

Electronic airfreight rating and booking software provider WebCargo said Tuesday it has partnered with IBS Software, a widely used cargo management solution among airlines, to enable those carriers to offer real-time online bookings to forwarders.

The partnership links the air freight rate-quoting capability of WebCargo, a subsidiary of logistics software provider Freightos, with IBS’ iCargo platform, which is used by more than 30 airlines, including American Airlines, Etihad Cargo, IAG Cargo, and Korean Air.

WebCargo’s AcceleRate product is used by more than 1,900 forwarders, including Hellmann, Nippon Express, and DSV Panalpina to pull electronic rates and make bookings directly with airlines such as Lufthansa, Air France KLM, IAG Cargo, and United.

Airfreight bookings largely remain the province of forwarders and cargo airlines, with shippers relying on forwarders to book capacity and quote to them, rather than going directly with airlines.

The partnership, the companies said, allows airlines to offer an “off-the-shelf” digital channel to forwarders at a time when airfreight demand is sky high due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“With the vast majority of bookings in the industry still being made offline, rate management and distribution are essential aspects of a truly digital air cargo experience and absolutely critical to keep supply chains moving smoothly during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the companies said in a joint statement.

Digital solutions spreading

There has been steady movement over the past year in forwarders gravitating toward building direct application programming interfaces (APIs) with airlines. WebCargo, has played a large role in that development, providing forwarders with rates from more than 330 airlines. The company last year tied up deals with IAG, the holding company of British Airways and Iberia Airlines; Lufthansa, Air France/KLM, United Cargo, SAS, and Etihad. Those partnerships, of which the IAG, Lufthansa, and Air France/KLM feeds are currently live, allow WebCargo to convey live rates to forwarder customers, to then allow them to quote shippers.

“The vast majority of airlines don’t have automated prices today,” WebCargo CEO Manel Galindo said in the statement. “WebCargo has been transmitting air cargo rates globally for over a decade, giving us access to the largest network of airline rates in the world.” 

WebCargo said it processes nearly 1 million rate searches each month from forwarders using its platform. The company was acquired in 2016 by Freightos, which provides a range of products, including a subscription-based freight rate management solution, a freight rate index it jointly developed with the Baltic Exchange, and an ocean and air freight rate marketplace for forwarders and shippers. Freightos has raised $94.4 million in venture funding, from investors that include GE Ventures and the Singapore Exchange.

Contact Eric Johnson at eric.johnson@ihsmarkit.com and follow him on Twitter: @LogTechEric.