The pandemic was a major disruptor for air cargo operations but it also brought air cargo into the limelight. Air cargo proved its ability to be agile and innovative, as the need for air cargo picked up speed and traditional processes had to transition to modern, automated processes.
Several years ago, air cargo was lagging behind in terms of innovation, with the pandemic acting as a catalyst for digitalisation. With better managerial and organisational practices, many companies in the airfreight sector are now moving ahead to improve and streamline their processes and operations.
Qatar Airways Cargo (QR Cargo) saw the potential in innovating early, bringing transparency to customers, so they have complete visibility throughout the entire supply chain.
“While we had many of our digitalisation projects already under process, the COVID-19 pandemic indeed accelerated digitalisation for airfreight,” Liesbeth Oudkerk, Senior Vice President Cargo Sales and Network Planning, stated.
The first step in Qatar Airways Cargo’s digital transformation journey is visible with its brand-new website released in May 2022.
The new website boasts a brand-new design which offers simple navigation, intuitive positioning of information backed with robust security.
Since the new website is cloud-based and requires fewer clicks to source relevant information, it also boasts a lower carbon footprint than its predecessor.
“Digitalisation has greatly helped improve customer experience and new emerging technologies like blockchain and AI are now emerging as the future of airfreight and will facilitate greater collaboration and communication.”
QR Cargo doesn’t see technology erasing the human connection, it is simply reimagining it. Air cargo has always been a traditional industry, built on human relationships, interaction and manual processes.
Digitalisation provides customers with a personalised service and reduces inefficiencies and friction while enhancing customer experience.
“The next generation of air cargo leaders and staff will be highly technologically savvy for whom digitalisation is the norm so it only makes sense to adopt this forward thinking and modern approach to adapt to the next evolution of the industry.” Oudkerk added.
Meeting market demands
From a modest position in 2003, with few freighter destinations and three A300-600 freighters, QR Cargo’s operations have grown tremendously, juggling their fair share of challenges.
Now operating an extensive network to more than 70 freighter destinations and over 150 passenger destinations with 31 freighters, QR Cargo is keeping customers at the heart of everything they do.
This growth had been powered by the introduction of state-of-the-art products and services, investment in its hubs and a strong focus on technology and sustainability.
“We are always in constant dialogue with our customers to understand their requirements and better support their business by introducing enhancements and services in line with the changes in the airfreight scenario,” Oudkerk said.
Contributing to a better world
Qatar Airways Cargo is committed to contributing to a number of positive projects across charitable, environmental, and humanitarian initiatives and a sustainability programme.
Given government legislations and initiatives like UN’s sustainable development goals and goals adopted by many countries, there is a greater push for greener services. Furthermore, more and more customers are becoming aware and educated in matters of sustainability and want to make a difference where they can.
“We continually explore ways to reduce our carbon footprint through various initiatives such as improvements in operational efficiencies, process enhancements, digitalisation, fleet modernisation, effective waste management and carbon offsetting,” Oudkerk explained.
Under its WeQare programme, QR Cargo has, so far, launched four chapters: One Million Kilos: Transporting aid and relief goods; Rewild the Planet: Offering free transport to bring wild animals back to their natural habitat; Let’s Stand Together: Collecting donations for children which were assembled in Doha and distributed to charities worldwide; Diversity: Portrayed on an aircraft livery with the slogan MOVED BY PEOPLE.
Drive for development
Looking forward, QR Cargo acknowledges that geopolitical events can impact the airfreight market.
“In today’s age, basically, there are a number of global events due to which we are adopting a wait and watch approach,” Oudkerk said. “What we know for certain is that the growing push for digitalisation and sustainability will definitely affect the airfreight industry in positive ways.”
“We will continue to strategise our network planning and commercial plans, adjusting the way we fly, where we fly and which aircraft we operate according to the market situation.”
As QR Cargo becomes more cost conscious to ensure improved profitability for the airline as well as best value for our customers, Oudkerk was clear that “there will also be a lot of focus on innovation in our processes, technology, people and skills.”