Liesbeth Oudkerk tells Air Cargo Management that the future of Qatar Airways Cargo is one that focuses on providing a fresh, innovative approach for its customers.
Air Cargo Management: What are the latest projects and developments at Qatar Airways Cargo, particularly in terms of expanding cargo capacity and improving operational efficiency?
Liesbeth Oudkerk: Qatar Airways Cargo continues to invest in state-of-the-art facilities, cutting-edge technology, and robust quality control measures in the industry. Our dedicated staff, knowledge and expertise and unwavering commitment are what keep us ahead of our competitors.
We are committed to providing exceptional customer service and our 24/7 support teams mean we can offer tailor-made solutions to meet our customers’ specific requirements.
Qatar Airways Cargo is at the forefront of advanced technology and we are continuously investing in innovative solutions to enhance operational efficiency, visibility, security, streamline processes, and improve overall performance.
We excel in providing specialised solutions for various types of cargo, including pharmaceuticals, perishables, and dangerous goods. Our expertise and capabilities enable us to tailor our services to meet the unique challenges associated with these specific types of cargo.
We are also fully certified to ensure the safe and secure transportation of these goods. Qatar Airways Cargo is the first airline globally to complete the suite of IATA CEIV Certifications, having obtained CEIV Fresh, CEIV Lithium Batteries, CEIV Live Animals, CEIV Pharma, IEnvA registered and United for Wildlife programme. These certifications demonstrate our sustained commitment to the highest standards when handling and transporting various types of cargo.
In an industry where customer experience plays a crucial role, how is Qatar Airways Cargo enhancing its customer experience? Are there any specific initiatives or technologies being implemented?
Digitalisation has enabled us to re-evaluate our processes and tools to provide a more streamlined experience for internal and external customers. In 2022, we invested in several initiatives that have provided a much more connected booking experience for customers. This is one of the key steps towards the start of the journey in moving cargo and hence the need to get it right. We are continuing to take this journey forward by elevating the booking experience with more focused enhancements tied in with clear operational strategies to complete the journey of cargo till its final destination. A clear example is our partnership with new marketplaces such as CargoAI, cargo.one, WebCargo, and our very own e-booking portal, Digital Lounge, which was revamped in October 2022. The Digital Lounge experience brings in added value to the airline’s customers, offering better engagement and interaction, increased productivity and time management, as well as better visibility, transparency and performance monitoring.
What sustainability initiatives has Qatar Airways Cargo undertaken, and how are these initiatives aligned with the company’s long-term vision?
The Qatar Airways group is committed to contributing to a better world. Qatar Airways Cargo is involved in many charitable, environmental, and humanitarian initiatives and we remain committed to giving back to the communities we serve through our sustainability WeQare programme, built on the key pillars of sustainability: environment, society, economy, and culture.
Under the WeQare programme, we have so far launched four chapters:
- Chapter 1 – One Million Kilos: The Covid crisis accelerated the launch of this programme to transport one million kilos of aid and relief goods. We involved our customers by allowing them to allocate the space to charities of their choice.
- Chapter 2 – Rewild the Planet: This chapter was launched to offer free transport to bring wild animals back to their natural habitat.
- Chapter 3 – Let’s Stand Together: This chapter consisted of collecting donations for children which were assembled in Doha and then distributed to charities worldwide.
- Chapter 4 – Diversity: This chapter celebrated our highly diverse team portrayed on an airplane livery with the slogan MOVED BY PEOPLE.
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We also continually explore ways to reduce our carbon footprint through various initiatives such as improvements in operational efficiencies, process enhancements, digitalisation, fleet modernisation, effective waste management, and carbon offsetting. Our environmental sustainability commitments include:
- Working closely with the industry stakeholders in leading global efforts to reduce CO2 emissions.
- Meeting and exceeding industry best practice standards for noise and air quality.
- Preventing pollution and meeting compliance obligations and other requirements that Qatar Airways Group subscribes to.
- Improving our performance through environmental management systems.
- Raising awareness across the group and promoting the training of employees and stakeholders on our environmental policy.
- Maintaining a zero-tolerance policy towards the transportation of illegal wildlife and their products.
Accordingly, we incorporate sustainability requirements into our business planning, and we are constantly enhancing our procedures and protocols to support conservation and biodiversity, including raising awareness on environmental policy. In fact, Qatar Airways Cargo is the first carrier in the Middle East certified to the highest level of IATA’s Environmental Assessment programme (IEnvA) – State 2.
As part of oneworld® alliance, Qatar Airways has committed to Net-Zero Carbon Emissions by 2050, taking part in the first global alliance united behind a common target to achieve carbon neutrality. The alliance has also committed to a target of 10 per cent sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) use by 2030. As part of this commitment, Qatar Airways has signed an offtake agreement to purchase 25 million gallons of certified SAF over a five-year period starting from 2028.
We are also continually reaffirming our commitment by investing in the youngest fleet and most advanced aircraft technology while maintaining the lowest ratio of fuel burn towards a greater reduction of carbon emissions. Since 2015, we have implemented over 70 optimisation initiatives that became legacy projects implemented through our Fuel Optimisation Programme. In 2020, Qatar Airways Cargo became the first carrier in the Middle East to join the IATA Turbulence Aware data exchange platform, a programme which ensures a smoother journey in the air with a lower fuel burn.
Our sustainability programme also includes market-based measures such as carbon offsetting. In 2020, Qatar Airways partnered with IATA to launch Voluntary Carbon Offset Programme for Passengers and in November 2021, Qatar Airways Cargo became the first carrier to join the IATA CO2NNECT platform offering voluntary carbon emission offsetting to its cargo customers. In January 2022, we introduced a carbon emission calculator on our website, marking a new milestone in our environmental sustainability journey.
With ongoing advancements in technology and automation, how is Qatar Airways Cargo leveraging these innovations to streamline cargo processes and improve overall efficiency?
We have invested heavily in digitalisation which is a core pillar in our Vision 2027 Strategy.
The first step in our digital transformation journey was launching our new website in May 2022 which now offers simple navigation, intuitive positioning of information backed with robust security. Since the new website is cloud-based and requires fewer clicks to source relevant information, it also boasts of a lower carbon footprint than its predecessor.
Other leading initiatives include our Digital Experience platform, IATA One Record, Development of Cargo Interline Booking APIs for B2B OAL integrations (marketing and operating), Development of Auto-AWB Generation API on marketplaces, Click-through Agreement on Online Services platform to provide ease of doing e-AWB, Book now and pay later model, and Pay Module.
To support our rapid e-booking growth and provide full real-time rate transparency and swift auto confirmation, we selected PROS pricing and quoting solutions. PROS constitutes a fundamental pillar in our new pricing strategy. This unique digital technology will assist us in achieving our strategic growth objectives by enabling personalised real-time pricing.
As the air cargo industry continues to evolve, what is Qatar Airways Cargo’s vision for the future? Are there any plans to enter new markets or expand service offerings?
In accordance with our Vision 2027 strategy and Next Generation approach, we will ensure the future continues to be in every decision we make – be it in technology, sustainability, diversity, our products and services, and how we approach our business in general. Every move we make has consequences, and we consciously endeavour to ensure that it yields the best results for our customers and the regions we serve.
We have a responsibility as the world’s leading airline and with our Next Generation approach, we are taking our industry to the next level. There has never been a better time to set entirely new standards. We are shaping the air cargo industry of tomorrow – one that combines digital efficiencies with a unique, professional human touch. Next Generation has a clear vision to develop employees’ talents, to fully utilise digital potential, and to take a fresh, innovative approach to the business of air cargo.
We are proud of our extensive global network of more than 70 freighter destinations and over 150 passenger destinations whereby we utilise freighters and belly-hold passenger flights. We will always continue to look to expand into new markets. One example of this is Kigali. We recently launched our Africa Hub in partnership with RwandAir, creating an intra-Africa service between Kigali and Lagos, Kigali and Kano, with more destinations to be launched soon.
A shorter version of this interview was first published in Air Cargo Management – August/September 2023. To read the magazine in full, click here.