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Going digital to unlock potential of PH air cargo industry

Cargo IT solutions provider CHAMP Cargosystems said it sees potential for further growth of the Philippine airfreight market if the industry can harness digitalization to its advantage.

Arnaud Lambert, president and chief executive officer of CHAMP Cargosystems S.A., in an interview with PortCalls, noted that the Philippines has shown remarkable economic performance that it is forecast to have a higher growth than China this year.

Oliver Neerfeld, CHAMP head of commercial operations for Asia Pacific, added that due to the many islands found in the Philippines, particularly the big islands of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, the country has “a lot of logistics going on.”

However, Lambert said that to leverage the air cargo sector’s growth further, digitalization needs to “take place here fast enough so that you maintain and you continue to grow further.”

Digitalization of operations and services in airfreight operations, Lambert noted, is starting to become mandatory, initially in the airlines sector and then down the entire of chain of the air cargo industry.

The International Air Transport Association has for years been pushing for electronic air waybills. IATA said digitalizing the exchange of air waybill also brings accuracy, confidentiality, and efficiency. It will also do away with as many as 30 different paper documents per international air shipment.

Benefits of digitalization include improved efficiency and increased competitiveness, especially with rising competition from the maritime and rail sectors.

Last year, CHAMP created a dedicated team to accelerate digital adoption across the air cargo supply chain. With e-commerce on the rise, CHAMP noted a clear and big opportunity for the supply chain sector to ride the online commerce boom if it can actively embrace new digital technologies.

For digitalization to work, however, the challenge is to ensure the involvement of every actor in the air cargo supply chain, said Nicolas Xenocostas, CHAMP vice president for global sales and marketing.

CHAMP, which has a strong presence among airlines and other actors in the airfreight industry, has been providing a wide range of innovative IT solutions to the air cargo sector for over 30 years.

The company has kept a presence in the country for years, providing services for flag carrier Philippine Airlines. It now aims to be the “virtual integrator” of the various actors in the “very fragmented” logistics chain of the Philippines.

CHAMP particularly sees growing opportunities to serve airfreight forwarders in the country. It said there are a lot of small and medium freight forwarders in the country, that need the infrastructure.

The IT firm said its software called Logitude can serve the digital requirements of small and medium freight forwarders. The technology provides full functionality for multimodal shipment management and electronic connectivity to enable freight forwarders to deal with airlines and integrators on a level playing field.

Another of the company’s software is CargoUpdate, an integrated cargo community portal that connects airlines and general sales agents with their core customers, such as freight forwarders.

CHAMP currently accounts for a 47% share of the world’s air cargo market, but Lambert said “we’re not going to rest on that” as they plan to keep reinventing their business.

Its various products for airlines, freight forwarders, ground handlers, and general sales agents are categorized into four: cargo management systems, community integration services, freight forwarding systems, and compliance services system.

At present, CHAMP handles more than 300 million messages annually and 20 million shipments annually, while serving more than 100 airlines and general sales agents, and over 3,000 connected forwarders and more than 15,000 users.

It manages seven offices worldwide, Manila among them. Half of its total employees are at the development center in Manila, where almost 200 Filipino employees take on functions that mirror those of the CHAMP’s office in Europe. – Roumina Pablo

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