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Air cargo portals automate cross-border booking amid neutrality concerns offers collaboration tool for forwarders; Chinese consolidators begin sales on Freightos portal

Digital marketplaces for air cargo have added new features making it possible for logistics companies managing imports to instantly book export shipments from agents in another country without the hassle and time-zone delays of shopping quotes by phone and email.

It’s another level of connectivity for online booking portals that enable freight forwarders to search, compare and book cargo space across multiple airlines in real time. The simplified booking process is valued by logistics professionals, but some worry they could lose business if multilateral distribution channels open their systems to nonaccredited intermediaries or directly to cargo owners themselves. on Wednesday announced an upgrade designed to streamline freight forwarders’ overseas bookings that require a partner to execute. WebCargo, a Freightos company, last week said that airfreight wholesalers in China for the first time can now sell space to freight agents just like airline partners.

The third-party platforms, along with rival CargoAi, allow airlines to market their capacity in one place. Forwarders can quickly compare live rates and availability and then electronically book shipments — much like travelers shop for airline seats, hotels and rental cars on Kayak or Priceline. The advantage of automatically connecting forwarders’ transportation management systems with airline reservation systems is more predictable, transparent pricing and capacity information that can be confirmed instantly compared to shopping static rates. 

But the process only works for export traffic. A logistics company operating in Baltimore, for example, can’t reserve a pallet of auto parts on an aircraft departing Amsterdam because of customs regulations and how global settlement systems are wired.

For import moves, a freight forwarder has to use an agent in the country of origin to make the booking, organize delivery to the airport and ensure export clearance is obtained. Procuring rates has mostly been manual, involving many messages back and forth that can take hours or days, especially when different time zones are involved. Logistics offices, depending on the size of the company, can write dozens to hundreds of quotes per day. The lag in finalizing transactions can result in losing reservation slots to competitors or prices going up.  

Andy Frommenwiler, a vice president for Krieger Worldwide based in Los Angeles, said it is difficult getting quotes from agents in other countries.

“Just let me know who flies something from Shanghai to Boston and then I can discuss with my customer. Otherwise I have to wait the whole day, send the information overnight and if something’s missing I won’t see it until I get up. By then they’re going to bed and I have to wait again for 24 hours,” he said in an interview.

With’s “pro” version, forwarders can quickly get quotes for customers and instantly book approved transportation in another country. Agent quotes include the airlines’ price, plus their own fees for trucking, customs filing and security processing, as well as any markup. In reality, the inbound forwarder is essentially delegating the booking to its partner because of all the in-country execution challenges.


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