Qatar Airways Cargo Experiences Digitalization Acceleration Amid Global Challenges

Published: Monday, December 18, 2023

Embarking on a transformative journey, Qatar Airways Cargo is spearheading a robust digital evolution to revolutionize the air cargo industry. With a visionary approach titled ‘The Next Generation’, the airline aims to harness the full potential of digital tools for enhanced customer experiences and streamlined internal processes.

This comprehensive digital strategy encompasses replacing manual processes, refining existing systems, and integrating intelligent interfaces to propel Qatar Airways Cargo into a new era of innovation.

The carrier’s commitment to an omni-channel experience, offering diverse platforms for customer interaction, has already proven successful with over 50,000 bookings on Webcargo within the first year.

As Qatar Airways Cargo continues to unveil new marketplace partners and a revamped booking experience, the industry awaits the unfolding of a digital transformation that aligns with ‘The Next Generation’ spirit and sets new benchmarks in air freight efficiency.

In an exclusive interview with Poonam Chawla Associate Publisher of Air Cargo Update, Liesbeth Oudkerk – SVP Cargo Sales & Network Planning., Qatar Airways Cargo discusses the progress of its ‘Next Generation’ strategy launched a year ago.

Currently exceeding 60% digitalization, the airline highlights innovations such as the revamped Mail solution and a suite of digital tools. Emphasizing customer benefits, the interview explores challenges, the pandemic’s impact, and future, including the recently launched Digital Lounge and upcoming enhancements in 2023.

Qatar Airways Cargo asserts its commitment to industry-leading digital transformation, ensuring streamlined processes, enhanced customer experiences, and a secure, connected future.

It’s a little over a year since Qatar Airways Cargo launched its ‘Next Generation’ strategy, what percentage of your cargo business still needs to be digitalized?

The launch of the Next Generation was a key milestone for QR Cargo in the way of doing business, but it’s a long-term strategy and key to everything we implement going forward.

We are shaping the air cargo industry of tomorrow – one that combines digital efficiencies with a unique, professional human touch. Next Generation has a clear vision to develop employees’ talents, to fully utilise digital potential, and to take a fresh, innovative approach to the business of air cargo.

In terms of our business being digitalized, our numbers are increasing daily. We started around 30% but now we are over 60%.

Could you list the digital solutions and new products that have been developed under this strategy?

Our user-friendly website, the Digital Lounge web platform, along with third-party digital marketplaces such as WebCargo, Cargo One, CargoAi, and WebCargo Pay by Freightos, are integral parts of our comprehensive digital ecosystem.

This year witnessed the relaunch of various specialized services, including Securelift, Fresh, Pharma, Drive, Mail, and Courier.

These enhancements have not only improved the user experience across the board but also had positive ripple effects on our other services.

Additionally, our collaboration with PROS Pricing Solutions has further strengthened our commitment to delivering efficient and innovative solutions in the air freight industry.

Could you share the key features of the recently relaunched ‘mail solution’? Additionally, we’re interested in understanding the daily handling capacity of mail at Qatar Airways Cargo and how this revamped solution contributes to streamlining processes, enhancing speed, and improving overall operational efficiencies?

1 – Comprehensive Services: Qatar Airways Cargo’s relaunched Mail product offers a comprehensive suite of customisable services for both traditional and hybrid postal modes, meeting international regulatory standards set by IATA and UPU.

2 – Enhanced EDI: The product features 100% EDI at over 110 stations with handheld android scanners, facilitating seamless communication and data exchange for operational efficiency.

3 – Expanded Reach: Unlike traditional approaches, the Mail product allows the carrier to accept mail shipments from multiple customers from the same origin, irrespective of the IMPC code used, broadening its customer base.

4 – Specialized Support: Specialized support teams ensure privacy, efficiency, safety, and security in handling mail shipments, with real-time tracking capabilities for customers.

5 – Dedicated Airmail Facility: The Doha facility, covering 4,900 sqm, has a daily handling capacity of 500 tonnes, deploying advanced technology, tracking solutions, and EDI capabilities.

6 – Advanced Security Measures: Equipped with in-house screening facilities, X-ray scanners, Explosive Detection Dog (EDD), and Explosive Trace Detection (ETD) capabilities, ensuring safety and security.

Share with us the ways in which customers have benefited from these digital solutions and products, and could you provide insights into the feedback received from them?

Digital Lounge Convenience: Qatar Airways Cargo’s Digital Lounge, launched as part of its Digital Experience platform, streamlines customer engagement with a focus on simplicity, scope, and security.

User-Friendly Website: The cloud-based website redesign prioritizes simplicity, intuitive navigation, and robust security, reducing clicks and environmental impact.

Third-Party Digital Marketplaces: Presence on platforms like WebCargo, CargoAi, and enhances real-time market information and engagement.

WebCargo Pay by Freightos: Qatar Airways Cargo’s participation in WebCargo Pay streamlines transactions, allowing customers in seven countries to add cash credits for easy bookings.

PROS Pricing Solutions: Utilizing PROS pricing and quoting solutions ensures real-time rate transparency, swift auto confirmation, and personalized pricing across channels.

Mail’s state-of-the-art technology, with the deployment of EDI capabilities at over 110 stations, along with handheld Android scanners, has facilitated seamless communication and real-time tracking for customers.

Positive Customer Feedback: Customers have provided positive feedback on the benefits of these digital solutions, citing improved visibility, faster processing times, and heightened security measures as key factors contributing to their satisfaction.

As one of the top air cargo airlines, could you tell how Qatar Airways Cargo is benchmarking the digitalization journey?

To enhance product knowledge, we are strategically establishing stations worldwide near our customers. We are actively working on providing more details, so please stay tuned for upcoming updates.

Has the digitalization process in the air cargo sector, historically considered a slow adopter, experienced acceleration due to the pandemic? For instance, the adoption of E-airway bills is not yet at 100%?

The pandemic did accelerate the digitalization process in the air cargo sector by disrupting global trade and presenting new challenges. Digitalization has played a crucial role at Qatar Airways Cargo, prompting us to accelerate many of our digitalization projects.

Our digital enhancements, new products, and the launch of a new website under ‘The Next Generation’ further emphasize our commitment to digital transformation in the air cargo industry.

While significant progress has been made, it’s true that the adoption of E-airway bills is not yet universal across the industry. However, it remains a key focus for Qatar Airways Cargo as we continue to work towards achieving full digitalization and seamless electronic processes.

Could the relatively slow adoption of digitalization in various sectors be attributed to its perceived high costs, with benefits not immediately matching the investment in the short term?

Engaging in digitalization requires essential investments, encompassing both financial resources and the acquisition of skilled personnel. Our unwavering commitment is exemplified by the exceptional qualifications of our dedicated team.

Is data security a top priority for customers amid the digitalization process, and how does Qatar Airways Cargo ensure the safeguarding of sensitive information with robust systems in place to instill confidence and trust?

To ensure comprehensive security, Qatar Airways Cargo has implemented robust measures, incorporating advanced encryption, secure data transmission protocols, and stringent access controls. Regular audits are systematically conducted to maintain compliance with rigorous data protection standards.

In the digitalization journey, what are the primary challenges faced—whether they stem from regulatory hurdles, the inherently dynamic nature of the process leading to rapid obsolescence, or other factors influencing the transformation landscape?

As the world embraces the digital era, there’s an ongoing need for constant adaptation to meet evolving industry requirements. Maintaining agility is paramount to staying in sync with the dynamic demands of the sector. Our daily commitment to transformation plays a pivotal role in fostering positive impacts within the cargo industry.

To what extent has the adoption of digitalization contributed to the growth of sales at Qatar Airways Cargo, bolstering customer confidence in the process?

Transitioning into the digital era is imperative for retaining customers. Ensuring simplified processes and providing reliable booking and tracking tools are vital components in offering the best transport guarantees to our customers. This commitment establishes us as a trustworthy and dependable partner in the industry.

What lies ahead for Qatar Airways Cargo in the realm of digital disruption, and what innovative steps are being contemplated to further propel the airline’s digital evolution?

In October 2022, we proudly launched the Digital Lounge, a premium customer portal designed to offer an enhanced and connected experience. This platform now includes advanced features such as auto confirmation of shipments, simplified allotment bookings, templates, and serves as a comprehensive one-stop-shop for viewing all shipments booked with QR Cargo, regardless of the booking channel.

Throughout 2023, we expanded the Digital Lounge’s capabilities beyond booking, introducing features like an allotment dashboard for customers, auto stock replenishment, and targeted enhancements aligned with clear operational strategies that cover the entire cargo journey to its final destination.

Continuing our commitment to digital innovation, we are actively exploring new opportunities for enhancement. Future developments will encompass credit card payments, the ability to bulk book allotments, improved self-service options for customer service, the capability to generate quotations for shipments, and advanced tracking capabilities.

Stay tuned for updates as we unveil the next set of tools and innovations, keeping pace with the evolving landscape of digital solutions in the air cargo industry.