Saudia Cargo, Cainiao and WFS collaborate in Liège

On 01MAR, the partnership between Saudia, Cainiao and WFS at Liège Airport officially took off. This intent was already announced months ago, becoming reality now. At an event held at Liège Airport on 01MAR24, the parties involved confirmed earlier plans to roll out their tripartite model at other WFS ground handling stations, jointly served by Saudia Cargo and Cainiao.

Image (left > right): Mohammed Esa, Senior VP Strategy & Business Development WFS, Eric Yu, Vice-President Cainiao Group, Teddy Zebitz, CEO Saudia Cargo – photos: CFG/ms

Initially, this was announced in NOV23 with CargoForwarder Global covering the topic: Saudia Cargo, Cainiao, and WFS drive e-Commerce. The cooperation works according to this pattern: Saudia Cargo flies the consignments to Riydh. There, the Boing 747 land for a short tank stop and continue their journey with new flight number to Liège. Upon arrival, WFS takes care of the unloading, sorting and onforwarding tasks. Currently, the number of weekly Saudia flights to Liège is not clear as this depends on the seasonal demand/supply, the Arabian carrier told CargoForwarder Global.                                      

Liège and more
We need to organize this industry, which is long overdue,” said Teddy Zebitz, CEO of Saudia Cargo at the Liège event. “We need tracking & tracing all over the trip and that is only possible with partners sharing the same ambition. We mustn’t forget that air cargo has only a limited share of the global volume of goods, but also accounts for 30% in terms of value.”

He added to this that the Liège model may be duplicated at other stations across the globe served by Saudia Cargo in partnership with Cainiao.  

Data sharing
At the Liège event, Thomas Yu, Senior Director, Global Hub Operations and Product Development of Cainiao, stated that the principles driving the partnership are not based on rocket science. “It is about data collecting and sharing. We have introduced lightweight PDA’s (Personal Digital Assistant), of which we have been engineering the design to make them easy to use.”

“The data flow is fully transparent. The world needs data, to share and to connect. Data are not owned by you, just processed by you. That is also why we try to reduce human intervention. Human error is not avoidable. Together with Saudia and WFS we opted for the type of automation to make the work easier for the people involved.”

Not copying the integrator model
Mohammed Esa, Senior Vice-President Strategy & Business Development of WFS believes that the tripartite partnership is a new way to look at things and manage e-commerce flows efficiently from A to Z. “At the end of the day, the part of the handler is just as important as the rest of the chain. We too intend to enhance the efficiency of our product, so we want to do more, and we are looking for ways to pursue this in our daily business to the benefit of our clients.”

Thomas Yu, Senior Director, Global Hub Operations and Product Development of Cainiao.

CFG: Bringing together logistics, airline and handler is something like mirroring what the integrators have been doing for decades. Or not, Mr. Yu?

Thomas Yu:We are not trying to imitate the integrators. In e-commerce you need an allocation of duties and seamless collaboration. I think the three of us are offering another option than the integrators. Collaboration is about a lot more than giving a bill for services performed. The most important part is pursuing the same goals.”

To which Mr. Zebitz adds: “This is about mindset and not about copying. It is about what the customer wants.”

Forwarder lacking
Lacking in the set-up is a participating forwarder, Mr. Yu points out: “The traditional forwarder can play a part, but their role in collaboration also needs to change, especially in data sharing. Eventually the forwarder could become a virtual airline for us.”

Forwarders create a lot of value, manager Zebitz adds. But this is about transparency. The key question from a consignee’s aspect is:” When can I have my goods?”

The LGG project is not a one-size-fits-all solution, Mr. Yu emphasizes. “For most of its volumes LGG is an inbound destination, in contrast to Hong Kong where the shipments are loaded on board an aircraft bound for Europe, for instance. When expanding this collaboration by offering this partnership constellation at other airports, we need to take a close look at the hubs, their procedures, ground infrastructure and the kind of products they mostly handle. There has to be a coherence.

The three parties are convinced that, in their joint project, they are processing data setting milestones such as for departure time, arrival time, and for updating the cargo systems. “This way, data becomes transparent all along the supply chain, benefitting our customers,” illustrates Mr. Yu.

Mr. Zebitz thinks that API’s (Application Programming Interface) are the future for the development of common communication platforms for the industry.

In Saudia’s dedicated part of the Cainiao operated large warehouse at Liège Airport, WFS has invested in a cooling facility. That may be interesting for Saudia’s pharma business, says Teddy Zebitz. “Pharma has become a big issue for us over the past few years.”

Saudia Cargo was given its IATA CEIV Pharma certification in OCT23. And on 23FEB24, the carrier also secured the Air Cargo Marketing award from STAT Times magazine. The award was handed over at Air Cargo India. It honors exceptional accomplishments and innovative strategies within the air cargo marketing domain.



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