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It used to take three hours to book air cargo. Now, it takes us five minutes.

Air Export/Import Coordinator MC Trinter
Digital Air Cargo

Carriers are expanding their networks through digital-enabled partnerships

Introducing digital interlining on WebCargo

In July, WebCargo launched digital interlining for air carriers on WebCargo’s eBooking platform. 

In the following interview with Toby Hillier, Sr. Business Development Manager at WebCargo, we explore digital interlining, how the solution simplifies the interlining process for carriers, and by expanding networks through partnerships can lead to increased bookings, better utilization and improved customer experience.

You can learn more about digital interlining here.

Q: WebCargo has just followed its recent Airline Dashboard launch with new digital interlining for air carriers on its platform. What is interlining, and how prevalent is it in the industry?

A: Interlining is the process of a passenger or a cargo shipment transferring between two airline operators on a single ticket or AWB.  In the case of cargo, the shipment would be booked by a freight forwarder with a single airline, with that airline having responsibility to confirm the booking on their own capacity as well as securing the capacity on the other carrier that is participating in moving the cargo from origin to destination.  

Interlining on passenger bookings is commonplace and easy to book, with around 10% of all passenger itineraries containing multiple airlines.  In the case of cargo shipments, this is a lot less common, mostly due to the complexities in making it happen, but also because there is a distinct lack of understanding of how interline works and how to secure onward bookings.  There is significant demand for, and scope to, grow the number of cargo interline bookings as global transportation needs cannot be constrained by single-operator solutions.

Q: How will digitalized interlining benefit carriers?

A: Digitizing the interline booking experience will help increase the number of bookings that airlines can secure by enabling a wider partnering portfolio, and considerably greater network reach.  This enables carriers to tap into new customer bases, deliver faster booking response times to customers and ensure greater customer retention.  It also secures greater utilization of airlines’ capacity and reduces the amount of administrative work teams have to complete, enabling them to focus on strategic initiatives instead.

Q: Is there an anticipated impact for forwarders as well?

A: Our interline functionality will go live for freight forwarders in 2024, delivering an expanded number of bookable options, and much faster response times when booking interline itineraries.  Ultimately the largest airlines in the world can only deliver around 120,000 city pair combinations alone, out of a potential for 12+ million routings, so bringing interline bookings onto freight forwarders desktops will make them more efficient and help them retain their customers business when looking at more complex routings.

Q: What’s next for Digital Air Cargo?

A: Interline bookings are just the start.  There is considerable appetite to deliver industry solutions for the operational delivery of not just interline shipments, but all cargo, whether that be enhanced transmission of submissions to customs agencies or operational pre-alerts to ground handling agents.  Operational support for online bookings is the next step in streamlining the air cargo booking process.