KLM Cargo joins Web booking portal

KLM Cargo joins Web booking portal

KLM Cargo has joined Cargo Portal Services, an online service for booking and tracking air freight.

KLM becomes the first carrier to offer its services on more than one portal. It previously signed up with Global Freight Exchange.

The decision by KLM, Europe's fourth largest cargo carrier, is a victory for Unisys, the developer of CPS, and the four airlines that currently allow forwarders to book with them through CPS - Air Canada, Austrian Airlines, Northwest Airlines and United Airlines.

"KLM gives us critical mass," said Christopher Shawdon, vice president for logistics solutions at Unisys.

"It's another strong boost for CPS," said Jim Friedel, president of Northwest Airlines Cargo and chairman of the CPS Group.

KLM has been using GF-X, the oldest online portal, in some European cities for the past year, but it joined CPS because of prodding from some U.S. forwarders, particularly Expeditors International.

In contrast to its limited offering on GF-X, KLM will make available all of its capacity on CPS, beginning in January.

"We're pretty excited that we're able to offer the market both. We let ourselves be driven by what our customers want," said Mattijs ten Brink, vice president of KLM Cargo in the Americas.

KLM began using GF-X at the urging of some European forwarders, such as Exel, he said.

KLM this week finalized its merger with Air France, but will operate separately for at least three years. "We have to keep our options open," said ten Brink. "We haven't received any approvals. It will be some time from now. It doesn't mean we won't continue working on our own priorities."

KLM, which also has an alliance with Northwest, will begin testing CPS next week.

The decision by the Dutch carrier could prod other airlines to offer their cargo capacity on multiple portals.

"We are very supportive of any initiatives by carriers and forwarders to increase the level of automation in the industry," said Demetrios Zoppos, managing director of GF-X. KLM's participation in both portals "will certainly strengthen the case for automation, hopefully encouraging others who have still not decided to accelerate their decisions."

Bram Graber, KLM Cargo's vice president commercial, said the carrier is dedicated to a multiple channel approach because its customers have different requirements.

GF-X is strongest in Europe, while CPS is strongest in North America. The newest portal Ezycargo, founded by four Asian carriers, went online last month in Hong Kong and will be available in Singapore, Japan and Australia by the end of the year.

Northwest's Friedel noted that the addition of KLM "will bring in a lot of places that we don't serve. The scope of CPS will be a lot wider."

GF-X boasts more marquee names than its rivals, including Lufthansa, British Airways, Cargolux, American, Continental and Delta.

"They have more names but far fewer places," Friedel said. CPS has fewer names but all are available globally. The end result is more customers served."

Shawdon said CPS is negotiating with three other carriers he would not name- one each in the U.S., Europe and Asia. Friedel said he expects two of those to sign up by the end of the year.

Unlike GF-X and Ezycargo, CPS does not charge forwarders for using its service.

Although CPS, which went live this past January, did not initially attract much interest in Asia, it now gets more traffic from Tokyo than any other gateway, according to Friedel.

The four carriers offering their capacity through Ezycargo are Cathay Pacific Airways, Japan Airlines, Qantas Airways and Singapore Airlines.