Freightos’ connectivity study: Only a handful of air carriers make the grade

In its latest benchmarking study of air cargo carriers’ “digital maturity,” or their ability to connect with their customers through digital applications, Freightos said the industry has made great strides in its digitalization efforts, but it lags far behind the progress made in oceanfreight and is limited to only a handful of large carriers.

The study assessed digital connectivity using 26 parameters that measure carriers’ ability to interact with customers via application programming interfaces (APIs), provide a one-stop-shop online experience, and focus on top-down transformation to a digital culture. Using this method, Freightos’ survey found only three air carriers that qualified as having significant, real-time API connectivity – Air France KLM Martinair Cargo, Delta Cargo and Lufthansa Cargo; missing from the list were any all-cargo carriers. On the ocean side, only Maersk and MSC made the cut.

Air carriers scored highest in the online experience category, with 40 percent of the carriers surveyed satisfying the criteria. However, the airlines scored poorly in terms of customer connectivity (11 percent) and digital transformation (10 percent), giving air carriers a cross-category combined benchmark score of 22 percent. In contrast, seafreight carriers earned a cross-category benchmark score of 38 percent.

On a per-carrier basis, Lufthansa Cargo had the highest digital connectivity, transformation and cross-category scores, followed by Air France KLM Cargo. Delta Cargo, meanwhile, earned the best online experience score, followed by Air France KLM and LATAM.

“For 20 years, while retail, passenger travel and financial services were transforming through digitalization, our industry was still pushing paper air waybills and bills of lading, and manually e-mailing Excel-based rate sheets,” said Zvi Schreiber, CEO of Freightos.

Freightos also noted that too many carriers still rely on outdated electronic data interchanges (EDIs) that lacked the immediate functionality of APIs. “Their most valued customers get a raw deal with visibility, communication, accuracy and resourcing requirements,” the study found.

Also, while freight forwarder innovation is often driven by “smaller, more nimble tech-driven providers,” the Freightos study found that, for carriers, “digital maturity is strongly correlated with size,” based on market share. “Large carriers have realized that not digitalizing is the bigger risk option,” the study continued. “Larger carriers have more desire or ability than smaller carriers to offer customers an end to end service.”

“While these benchmarks show much has been done, we may be entering global trade’s most pivotal decade of innovation,” Schreiber concluded. “Automation and APIs means on-demand decision making, smarter supply chains, and an acceleration in the already breakneck speed of the movement of goods.”

Those interested in hearing the latest on digitalization initiatives and other air cargo trends are invited to join us at Cargo Facts Asia 2019, to be held 15-17 April at the Langham Shanghai. For more information, or to register, visit Discounted early-bird registration ends 1 March.

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