GLOBAL cargo capacity has changed substantially in recent months. Although capacity is growing, it is still scarce and not all destinations are served in Air France KLM Martinair Cargo (AFKLMP) scheduled network. Gaps in the network are filled by operating charter services, but not all shipments justify a full-freighter solution.
The carrier resolved this by developing a collaborative platform, where customers can jointly participate in charter solutions to destinations not currently served. Once there is sufficient groupage cargo to such a destination, the charter is operated. This shared charter solution has been branded KickCharter.
“The idea for KickCharter came up quite spontaneously as a result of the pandemic,” said Robert Kunen, VP distribution and customer service. “Our team came up with the idea and even though we were not sure our customers would embrace such a revolutionary way of selling charters, we decided to go forward and at least bring it to a minimum viable product (MVP) we could bring into production and try out. The current service on our website is a MVP which we developed based on Salesforce.com technology, which allowed us to develop the facility in just three weeks. Based on positive results and customer reactions, we decided to structurally introduce this concept as long as there is a need from our customers.”
The airline’s existing organisation only caters for charter requests for full-freighter operations. It is only since the COVID-19 situation that there has been crew and fleet availability for wide-body passenger aircraft charter operations.
“We put a dedicated team in place to handle charter requests for these passenger aircraft, because these have different requirements. However, this process still requires one single customer for a full charter rotation.
“The beauty of KickCharter is that several customers can participate to a single charter, which made us enter a different market segment and serve customers that don’t have enough volumes to arrange a full charter operation by themselves,” says Kunen.
“When building the MVP we were unsure if the market would embrace the idea of this collaborative charter solution positively. We opened up KickCharter for a selected group of customers that were pre-informed it was a pilot for a new concept.
“We are very happy that the reactions were positive, and have led us to making several improvements in the functionality. We have already operated the second KickCharter operation into Africa with a B777-200 operation to Lagos, Nigeria. All cargo on board, both to and from Lagos, was sold through KickCharter.”
KickCharter aims to serve forwarders that already work with the carrier. Kunen says: “KickCharter serves a niche in the market to destinations where due to the COVID-19 crisis no scheduled operations exist.
“As airlines gradually resume their scheduled operations the potential of KickCharter will reduce, as we do not plan to offer KickCharter options to destinations we also operate scheduled flights to. KickCharter was meant as a short-term solution to serve our customers with additional options in times where options were limited.
“We are undecided yet if KickCharter will be a viable option in the long-term. Let’s see how things develop moving forward.
“Even if KickCharter does not have a long term future, we are happy to have been of service to our customers and to have achieved a lot of learnings from launching this service.”