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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
Airline Digital Air Cargo Logistics Technology

How Freight Interlining Is Redefining Air Cargo Bookings

Digital interlining has supplied carriers with unparalleled air cargo market reach, providing connectivity across thousands of destinations, and boosting air cargo efficiency with instant bookings across multiple airline segments. 

Sounds good? Read on to discover: 

  • What digital interlining is
  • Why digital interlining is crucial for boosting air cargo utilization and revenue
  • How digital interlining conquers traditional booking hurdles head-on
  • Insights on how digital interlining elevates operations and customer service direct from participating carriers.
  • Airlines’ Expectations for Digital Interlining

Now let’s dive into the details.

So What Is Interlining?

Ever heard of making seamless transfers between airlines for passengers and air cargo, all on a single ticket or AWB? 

That’s interlining. And it’s opened up a world of opportunities.

Passenger interlining is a breeze, already making up about 10% of all itineraries. But when it comes to cargo, it’s a different story. The process is complex, and many are still in the dark about how to make it happen, especially when it comes to securing onward bookings after the initial booking has been made with an airline. 

More specifically, digital air cargo interlining involves the shipment initially being booked by a freight forwarder with a single airline. That airline then has responsibility to confirm the booking with their own capacity as well as securing capacity on the other participating carriers that move the cargo from origin to destination.

In an increasingly digitized world, interline activities have become increasingly relevant. As airlines adapt to evolving landscapes, partnerships are becoming even more important. Carriers have recognized the importance of collaboration, as global transportation needs cannot be constrained by single-operator solutions, which is where WebCargo comes in. Airlines are turning to WebCargo’s booking platform to facilitate their interline bookings

Why Digital Interlining Is Crucial for Boosting Air Cargo Utilization and Revenue

In a sentence? Instant connectivity that wins more business.

Interlining solutions let carriers secure competitive pricing that drives higher volumes and enables swift airline network expansion, without the back-and-forth ad-hoc price negotiations, waiting for booking confirmation, or maintaining extensive interline databases.

This results in a substantial cut in operational costs, and enables airlines to win more business. This is in no small part, thanks to a reduction in the amount of administrative work carriers need to complete, enabling them to focus on strategic initiatives instead.

One of the largest airlines already reaping these benefits is Qatar Airways Cargo.

“Interlining provides a win-win situation to both partner carriers. It not only expands the buying carrier’s network but also manages to fill capacity of the selling carrier which could have gone empty otherwise. This leads to incremental revenues which otherwise wouldn’t have materialized for both. The standard arrangements between carriers is perfect as well since confirmation mostly is subject to space.

WebCargo’s platform aggregates multiple crucial information such as rates, schedules, messaging, service levels in one platform, ensuring customers make informed decisions about their shipments while providing a streamlined digitized process for the airline. With the visibility, efficiency, geographic footprint, and customer reach WebCargo provides, we are confident that the solution promises better upshot at stirring demand and increasing revenue streams, aside from fully digitizing the process.”

And that’s only the start. A properly streamlined interlining solution offers endless further possibilities to address the challenges faced by carriers when using the traditional interlining process.

Digital Interlining Vs. Traditional Interlining

As a digital interlining platform with the largest network of any booking platform, WebCargo has surveyed a number of its interlining partners, and established a common core of challenges faced by the majority of airlines when booking interlining shipments. 

Ilja Seliverstovs, VP Cargo at airBaltic, summarizes these challenges as follows: 

“First and foremost, there is a lack of visibility; we are unable to see our partners’ available capacity and must correspond with them via email or FFRs. Space is typically manually confirmed and, due to time zone differences, confirmation can occasionally take days, not hours. After a shipment departs, we seldom get automatic status updates in our system. So in order to maintain a high standard of customer service, we must manually track interline shipments and address irregularities, if there are any.”

 

WebCargo’s leading digital interlining platform tackles these challenges with: 

  1. End-to-End Oversight

WebCargo delivers complete transparency with real-time cross-carrier booking, instant confirmation, and full track and trace coverage from origin to destination.

  1. Seamless Cross-Carrier Routing

WebCargo provides powerful native support for cross-carrier routing for instant, multi-segment bookings (even across carriers not yet offering eBookings on WebCargo), leveraging the largest network of any cargo booking platform to enable better digital connections between airlines. 

  1. Complete Control and Flexibility

WebCargo’s digital interlining is powered by native WebCargo technology that supports both buying and selling, with flexible implementation or carrier types (widebody, narrowbody and freighter) to drive more flexible routing and operational decisions.

WebCargo’s digital interlining platform introduces both carriers and forwarders to a world of expanded booking options and lightning-fast response time. While even the largest airlines can only cover approximately 120,000 city pair combinations, with WebCargo’s seamless cross-carrier routing, the potential for routes exceeds a staggering 12 million. By integrating interline bookings onto freight forwarders’ desktops, air cargo efficiency skyrockets, enabling them to better serve customers and retain their business, especially for intricate routes.

Behind the Scenes: Carriers Share Digital Interlining Success Stories

WebCargo’s survey of carriers utilizing its digital interlining platform also reveals the transformative role its platform has played in improving the carrier’s operational efficiency and customer service. Here is just a sampling of the wide-ranging benefits airlines have reaped from digital interlining with WebCargo: 

“Caribbean Airlines Limited (CAL) chose to implement WebCargo’s digital interlining platform because it provides a seamless and efficient way to connect with other airlines and streamline our interline operations. 

Implementing a digital interlining platform, such as WebCargo, can help address these challenges by streamlining the booking process, enhancing communication and data exchange, and ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements. This, in turn, can improve CX, productivity and operational efficiency for CAL.

Being able to provide quotes faster is a tremendous advantage that will assist the airline to win more quotes and this augurs well for increased revenue generation and profitability.”

 

“Marketplace platforms such as WebCargo have revolutionized the booking process and magnified our sales efforts across our global network. We believe the interline scope in general has so much latent, underutilized capacity but the related booking process for this unfortunately has remained manual for most players in the industry.  It is important that we leverage the WebCargo technology solution and extensive customer base in addressing this gap to reach out to more customers and supplement our strategic alliances.”

 

“airBaltic is no stranger to cargo interlining; for small- and medium-sized airlines like us, it has always been the primary means of network expansion. We had interline agreements with 36 airlines prior to Covid. The process of creating such a vast interline network took many years and efforts. Unfortunately, as soon as the pandemic struck, all of our hard work was virtually lost. We are currently working to restore lost connectivities, but the traditional interline agreement setup is typically a drawn-out, paper-intensive bureaucratic process. So, when Webcargo presented us with the idea of an interlining platform, where airlines could connect, sell and buy cargo space easily, our reply was unambiguous – get us aboard!”

 

“Interlining is crucial as it expands our outreach and allows us to simulate demand in sectors where point to point demand is insufficient.  

WebCargo’s solution can automate the booking process to an extent where bookings get prioritized based on yields, the commodity and how regular the traffic is.”

 

Interline is a significant lever to expanding the existing IAG Cargo network by seamlessly connecting our customers with partner airlines worldwide. It enhances our presence on a global scale, offering our customers access to a broader range of flight options, lanes and destinations. Providing interline gives us a strategic advantage. It enhances our value proposition by offering customers greater reach and flexibility compared to airlines that operate in isolation.”

  • Giulia Pedone, Interline and Partnerships Manager at IAG Cargo

Looking Ahead: Airlines’ Expectations for Digital Interlining

Looking ahead, airlines are poised to capitalize on the potential of digital interlining, with a keen eye on growth strategies and airline network expansion. Interline bookings represent just the beginning of this transformative journey. 

“We are fully committed to leveraging valuable partnerships and investing in digital solutions to help us become fit for the future. WebCargo’s Interline platform streamlines the search and booking process, making it faster and easier to confirm an interline segment with another carrier. The digitalisation of interline supports our existing global network, connecting our customers and interline partners to even more destinations worldwide. This platform will enhance the customer experience and help us stay ahead of the curve in an increasingly dynamic air cargo market.” 

  • Giulia Pedone, Interline and Partnerships Manager at IAG Cargo

There’s a palpable appetite within the industry to develop comprehensive solutions not just for air cargo, but for the operational handling of all cargo, extending beyond mere interline shipments. This includes enhancing the transmission of submissions to customs agencies and providing operational pre-alerts to ground handling agents. 

Operational support for online bookings emerges as the next logical step in streamlining the air cargo booking process, promising further air cargo efficiency gains and enhanced customer experiences in the future.

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