Should shippers talk to carriers?

MESSAGE to airline heads of cargo: Your customer’s customer is on the phone, and he wants to talk to you!
This spring brought not only the inevitable round of industry gatherings around golf courses but also a rather unusual development. Various shippers have expressed a desire to talk to carriers.
Robert Mellin, head of distribution logistics at Ericsson, was one of the shipper executives who called for more airline-shipper communication.
Among other things, this should help optimise processes and improve the flow of information from airlines about new security requirements and their impact on processes.
News of this unexpected desire to communicate set off alarm bells in the industry. Those who were around at the time remember the fierce and sometimes bitter debates in the 1990s between leading forwarder and airline executives about some carriers’ intention to open a dialogue with shippers.
Sensing a ploy to open direct commercial relationships and cut the forwarder out of the equation, forwarders went on the barricades and boycotted KLM, which was spearheading the airline effort. 
Lise-Marie Turpin, vice president of cargo at Air Canada, rejects suggestions that airlines might be trying to turn back the clock and re-open the debate about the right to sell directly to shippers.
"This is not about going back to the 90s. It is not about cutting out the forwarders. Forwarders provide services that airlines cannot provide," she stresses.
Read Ian Putzger’s full piece in the next edition of Air Cargo News 2 December 2013 – Issue No. 766

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