Recently, Lufthansa Cargo celebrated an important anniversary: Since over a year (AUG22), all shipment data has been recorded, documented and transmitted electronically (eAWB). This is evidenced by IATA-submitted data published in the organization’s Cargo Account Settlement Systems (CASS). At Lufthansa Cargo, this ended the decades-long era of paper-based shipment recording for air freight consignments. Leaving the old and stepping into the digital future is the basis for further operational and strategic enhancements. This was emphasized by Jan-Wilhelm Breithaupt, VP Global Fulfillment Management at Lufthansa Cargo at the recent "Scope" event, organized and orchestrated by Riege Software.
With the introduction of IATA's newly created ONE Record technology platform, the foundation has been laid to efficiently synchronize operational processes between stakeholders, based on a single source and high-data quality. Once ONE Record becomes an elaborated and fully accessible industry standard, the door will be opened for the creation of new value-added services, opportunities, and business models, the Lufthansa Cargo executive predicted. For his company, he emphasized that “we see ONE Record as the adequate answer to overcoming the current problems in data exchange.”
The owner of data remains in the driver’s seat
It is an open, decentralized, and standardized platform, he said, where data stays at the source and the owner determines who is allowed or banned from data access. The system covers the supply chain from start to finish, from shipper to consignee, including carriers, handling agents, and airlines involved in a business process.
“From blocked roads, congestion, and detours, we need to get expanded highways for efficient, fast, transparent, and secure data exchange,” Breithaupt drew a comparison from the obstacles road traffic is facing and the communication opportunities opened up by ONE Record to exchange information between industrial stakeholders.
He cited the blockchain approach as an attempt that was kicked off with high hopes but failed to be successful in practice. It is decentralized, as is ONE Record, but far too complex. The shipping company Maersk, the second largest in the world after MSC, exited the Blockchain scheme after two years of practice. “That’s quite a testimony by an industry giant,” Breithaupt emphasized. As for his airline, Lufthansa Cargo will handle most of its messaging through ONE Record once the tool becomes an industry standard, he announced. In collaboration with Riege Software, which is advising and supporting IATA in the development and implementation of ONE Record, Lufthansa Cargo will take the lead in a piloting initiative to introduce the information platform this year, Breithaupt stated. “Under the slogan 'go digital', we are determined to build the foundation to spur new business cases based on ONE Record messaging.”
Airlines should motivate their partners to join the ONE Record avenue
With this self-imposed time window, Lufthansa Cargo is playing in the premier league of ONE Record users. Henk Mulder, IATA, Head of Digital Cargo, confirmed this at the Riege Software meeting. He explicitly emphasized the role of cargo airlines in the implementation of ONE Record. “Airlines need to lead the implementation of ONE Record and motivate their business partners to join the bandwagon, to actively transit from Cargo IMP and XML to One Record,” he urged. At the same time, Henk reminded that ONE record will be the sole IATA data sharing solution come 01JAN26. This is just over 2 years away, but the players in the air cargo industry need to lay the technical, electronic foundations for this today and sensibilize and train their employees accordingly.
Pilot projects are increasing
That this is already taking place, is evidenced by various initiatives such as Cathay Pacific’s collaboration with Hong Kong Airport (HKIA), Qatar Customs, or LATAM Cargo, to name three examples. As for the latter; following a two-month trial period, LATAM Cargo became the first airline to carry out a ONE Record Digital Channel from South America, between Lima and Madrid. This pilot was the first in the industry to manage the air transport of perishable products based on the new IATA e-platform and was supported by various industry stakeholders. But as Tamás Boday, CCO of Cetin Hungary, a leading telecom infrastructure provider, very aptly said at a recent meeting in Budapest: “Data is nothing if you don’t have the guiding light to find your direction.”
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