Entering an e-cargo era


Electronic documentation is taking on a larger role in Finnair Cargo’s daily operations and customer relationships.

Finnair Cargo is gradually moving towards comprehensive paperless documentation in order to both streamline its processes and reduce waste. While tracking their shipments online has been possible for Finnair’s customers for a decade now, pilot projects in e-freight and e-booking kicked off roughly a year ago.

Freight made easier

Finnair began its e-freight pilot project on the Helsinki-Hong Kong route at the end of 2009 with partners DHL Global Forwarding and Schenker. Because the new process requires that forwarding companies and Finnair Cargo use similar data systems, it initially encountered some hesitation. Doing away with the process of sending physical Air waybills (non-negotiable transport documents) back and forth, however, proved to speed up the process. All air waybill (AWB) data concerning DHL Global Forwarding and Schenker is now entered electronically.

“We have been able to remove the step of circulating documents within the terminal,” says Kristian Voss, assistant vice president of Finnair Cargo.

Finnair supports the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) goal to have all air freight handled electronically by 2015. According to the association, switching to electronic AWBs reduces costs, helps prevent delays and ensures the confidential and efficient distribution of accurate information. Like any process change, this too requires some adjustments.

“Of course the change creates certain pressures, as we have to make sure that all information is correct and keep track of situations in which, for example, a forwarding company updates AWB information after the data has been sent,” says Voss. “But receiving all the forms electronically ahead of time also reduces the need for our own staff to fill in information.”

Swift bookings

In addition to the e-freight pilot project, Finnair Cargo has also introduced e-services. The first module is the e-booking system, which enables customers to make reservations and browse flight schedules online. The system also presents the possibility for forwarding agents to set up local customer databases in the future.

“Customers can now make bookings around the clock without needing to call us, and an online system speeds up the reservation process and ensures that all booking information is accurate and up to date,” Voss says.

“So far it has worked well,” he adds. “We’ve gotten positive feedback regarding the easy user interface, for example.”

After employing a paperless approach to the above mentioned processes, the development of e-services at Finnair Cargo is set to expand, and staff is being trained as new processes enter the picture.

“We want to be part of the starting lineup, so to speak, in putting these services to use,” says Voss.

Text by Laura Palotie
Photo by iStockphoto

Published August 25, 2011

Category: Environment, Market updates, Finnair Cargo