Air Canada speeds up on-line booking for all cargo

Along with a new look website, Air Canada Cargo has unveiled a new on-line booking tool that allows established customers to complete a booking and receive an air waybill (AWB) number in less than two minutes, writes Ian Putzger.
With effect from August 11, forwarders that have an account with the airline can utilise the new tool to book as well as manage their shipments on-line.
The available booking window is 29 days. Unlike most on-line booking mechanisms, which are limited to general cargo, AC’s new set-up can handle the full gamut of the carrier’s offerings, including temperature-controlled services and hazardous goods transportation.
Customers log in to access a dashboard that allows them to make bookings as well as track shipments. They can view the status of all their current shipments, fill out an e-AWB, add to the house AWB, edit a shipment or print a document pouch.
The system automatically populates most data entry fields, calculates the volume of a shipment and uses customer-specific rates to make an estimated quote for the cost of the shipment.
In addition to special cargoes, the system also handles shipments that move beyond AC’s own network on interline partners, showing a variety of possible routings and flights to choose from.
Vito Cerone, director of marketing and sales for the Americas, says that the set-up was developed in close cooperation with customers.
"We have been talking a lot to customers to try to find ways to simplify the supply chain and make it easier for them to deal with us," he says.
The airline’s focus on its clients is also reflected in the recent creation of a customer experience department and a beefed-up call centre with technology designed to give service agents better tools to deal with customers’ issues.
Over the past couple of years AC has revamped many internal processes and ramped up its IT platform to speed up and/or simplify processes. The latest move on that front came in May, when management signed an agreement with Mercator for a new revenue management and accounting solution, which is scheduled to come on stream in the latter half of next year.
Customers can access the website to use the new booking and tracking from their mobile devices, although a tablet would be better suited than a mobile phone, Cerone remarks.
He adds that the airline is looking to add further functionality down the road to cover documents besides the AWB. The new booking functionality is throwing the door wide open for forwarders to embrace e-AWBs, a cause that AC has championed from the outset.
At the same time, there is always the option for customers to print a paper copy. "If the customer wants a paper invoice, he can print a PDF," Cerone says.

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