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Air cargo charter market set to get first online quotation tool

2019-06-12 Source: Jctrans

CharterSync platform promises to accelerate and simplify booking process for freight forwarders with time-critical ‘go-now’ shipments up to 18 tonnes

The air cargo charter market is set for a shake-up with the launch of what is believed to be an industry-first online quotation platform, CharterSync, which promises to accelerate the booking process for freight forwarders with time-critical shipments of up to 18 tonnes for delivery within Europe.

CharterSync said its new online platform “will make booking time-critical cargo charter flights quicker and easier for freight-forwarding companies”, explaining that its technology “accurately matches cargo loads to the most suitable aircraft in real time, offering significant time savings for ‘go-now’ charter flights”.

The CharterSync platform was designed and developed by co-founders Edward Gillett and Simon Watson. Both are pilots – Gillett having trained while working as a cargo charter broker at one of the major international brokers – who identified the need for smart technology to expedite the process of targeting the most suitable aircraft for time-critical cargo. The company claims its “intelligent platform partners with aircraft operators to put maximum information at the fingertips of freight-forwarders, delivering complete price transparency”.

Gillett commented: “Our aim is to improve efficiency in a traditionally over-complicated market, reducing time and waste. We are delighted to be launching a new online option for freight-forwarding companies, which provides a faster, more accurate and cost transparent service for their cargo.”

He told Lloyd’s Loading List that under the traditional charter broker model, the process for getting time-critical quotes generally involved the broker setting up a spreadsheet of aircraft availability at the start of each day; and when a request comes through, brokers frantically phone the airlines they believe to have suitable aircraft positioned close to the required pick-up location to obtain pricing estimates. In contrast, CharterSync’s technology and systems automatically track the movements of the aircraft of its registered carriers and match this to the information input by freight forwarders requesting the quote, generating a series of possible matches. These then generate quotations from the airlines, sometimes including options for more than one aircraft and alternative airports close to the origin or destination point – each separately priced.

Forwarders can then choose to accept one of the quotes, at which point the carrier will confirm the booking.

Gillett told Lloyd’s Loading List that the company had already “onboarded” a number of charter airlines with suitable aircraft, a process that included checking their certifications and working to familiarise them with the platform and how to effectively respond to requests. Having also now completed a ‘proof of concept’ phase with a launch customer and carriers to test and improve the various options, he expects to have the first flights within the next two weeks. It now also had a waiting list of potential freight forwarder customers and airline partners to ‘on-board’.

Many of Europe’s ‘go-now’ charter flights have historically been and will continue to be for cargo owners from the automotive sector, although the pharma sector was also a big user, Gillett said. And Brexit also potentially presented opportunities in the event that traditional road freight supply routes are disrupted.

“If there is a blockage in the road system, an aircraft is sometimes the only option to get a shipment where it needs to be,” he added.

Gillett acknowledged that some sections of the air cargo charter market that require very high levels of specialisation and face-to-face contact may not be appropriate for the CharterSync model, although those more often had longer lead times. But for the time-critical market, he said CharterSync’s booking options and algorithms were able to cope with many irregular-shaped items with uneven weight distribution, as well as those that are more regular-shaped.

And Gillett said the company had a staff team with substantial experience of various aspects of the airline charter and logistics markets. He explained that the idea was to offer “the correct balance of innovative technology and industry knowledge” to expedite go-now cargo charters, adding that “smart technology should be supported by an even smarter team”.

Watson said the CharterSync team had expertise from across the whole supply chain, from ground handling and operations management, to former brokers and pilots, adding: “This gives us a unique perspective and positions us well to respond quickly to the needs of our customers.”

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