LONDON, December 15, 2011 /PRNewswire/ --
The air freight industry is benefiting from a breakthrough new online and real-time rate management and distribution product, following the successful launch of OAG Cargo's enhanced and upgraded AFRA Air Freight Rates application.
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The optimized AFRA product is expected to become the standard for air freight rate management by airlines and their customers, and is the culmination of a three-year development project with significant investment by OAG Cargo, embracing the company's eight years of acquired knowledge in air freight rate management, pre-transport decision-making and analysis.
Newly optimized and enhanced, AFRA is a completely rewritten and improved version of OAG Cargo's popular cargo rate management tool. Since its launch in 2003, AFRA has become a key rate and surcharge distribution mechanism for 920 airlines and 300 cargo GSAs. Together, these organizations publish more than five million rates for AFRA's 12,600 individual users globally at more than 900 freight forwarding companies. It is still the most widely used global rates communication product in the market today.
As OAG Cargo sets for further expansion of AFRA, customers can continue to rely on exceptional performance and response times which in some cases have been able to be improved even further. Among the many new features added to the application is 'e-acceptance'. This allows airlines and forwarders to communicate and record online rate agreements, reducing subsequent potential billing discrepancies. A second example is 'spot price' capturing, which enables the recording of rates that have been agreed ad-hoc by telephone and email. Additional features include currency conversions of rates, zone-specific rates, as well as multiple pdf and excel templates for mass distribution of rates by email.
Surcharges, particularly fuel, also form an integral part of the newly launched rate management system, having become such an important element in the cost of air freight.
Various options to personalise the information for specific contracts or relationships are available, giving airlines full control over which customers can see their tariffs, spot prices, and surcharges, supported by multiple levels of security to provide unique protection of data. It also provides direct links from the rates results page to airlines' own booking sites or preferred booking portals.
OAG Cargo is offering a wide range of license options, from basic access to AFRA for a small fee per month, right up to customized Enterprise solutions for global companies. During the development cycle, OAG Cargo has regularly engaged with its current AFRA clients - airlines and forwarders alike - to ensure that their requirements will be met with the new version. Customers were also actively involved in testing the beta-release of the new AFRA.
Dirk de Rooij, Executive Vice President of OAG Cargo, said: "The new version of AFRA sets the standard for rate management. It is loaded with new features and benefits for airlines and forwarders of all sizes, and as a scalable web-server solution it delivers improved performance and response times for general rates, promotional rates, customer contract rates and now also spot rates.
"Having a structured process around the communication of rates is recognized as an effective way for airlines to lower costs, offer a single access point for all rates and to quickly reach out to the international forwarding community. The addition of spot prices in AFRA reflects the fact that many bookings are being placed on this basis. We have noticed however that frequently both airlines and forwarders have very little structure in the capture of spot prices as they are agreed by email and phone. This can cause errors in billing, which in return can result in disputes later. AFRA can now prevent this and actually save both airlines and forwarders time and money. This is a particularly important new feature given that spot prices currently account for 80% of available tariffs in some markets, which puts additional pressure on airlines to manage and market rates and time-limited offers with maximum efficiency. Real-time rate changes in AFRA increases users' opportunity to maximize their cargo revenue and yield - plus there is no cost for airlines to publish their rates in AFRA."
The new version of the application is also equipped with a standardised rate interface for airlines, enabling carriers to directly load their rates into AFRA from within their own systems - quickly, securely and accurately. Furthermore, airlines can use AFRA to distribute rates to all customers, whether or not they are users of AFRA. Airlines and forwarders have also recognised that they can utilize AFRA not only as an external rates-communication tool, but also for internal rate management and distribution.
Steven Fayers, OAG Cargo's Business Development Director, said: "Forwarders of all sizes already realise the benefits of AFRA, but the enhanced version gives them even more of an advantage. Speed is vital in terms of staff productivity, but also for their ability to communicate accurately and quickly with their shipping customers. We enable them to do an easy tariff search online, select their desired carriers, apply their mark up and ancillary costs and distribute their proposal to the shipper by email or a branded pdf template within 15 seconds - a massive time saving over manual processes. It also means, for example, that forwarders in Asia can get rates immediately from Europe without have to wait for offices to open, and with airlines continually updating the database with new rates, cargo agents can be confident of choosing the right airline and getting the right price for their shipment."
On top of providing full capture of sales rates and supporting billing reconciliation, quotations and tenders to win new business or retain existing accounts can be quickly compiled using the data available. Forwarders can also use the technology to add in their charges for services such as handling, documentation and labelling, and produce well presented branded documents for customers.
"With the launch of the new version of AFRA we will be accelerating our growth into more markets, reinforcing our position as a leading provider of business-critical decision-making tools for the air cargo industry," added de Rooij. "We will also leverage the community of our other products, including Inforwarding, which now has more than 25,000 registered users worldwide. The optimised AFRA application is the first in a series of enhancements that OAG Cargo customers can look forward to in the coming months."
Background notes for editors
AFRA evolved from the observation that the air cargo market is relatively non-standardised in terms of the communication of available space and applicable rates - in contrast to the airline passenger market. In many markets, worldwide fluctuations of rates, mostly caused by changes in capacity and demand, are still communicated by airlines to freight forwarders by phone and email.
The AFRA product was introduced in western Europe in 2003, where it caused changes in how certain markets communicated, going from ad-hoc quoting of individual shipments by phone, to structured communication of rates through the new online application. Airlines benefited in efficiency, reaching a wider audience and not having to negotiate terms on every shipment. Forwarders benefited by also having greater efficiency and improved cost and supplier transparency.
The number of markets in which AFRA is deployed has continued to grow. In order for AFRA to remain a viable product during its expansion, coping with the amount of rates information uploaded into the system as well as the number of queries run by forwarders, it was decided in 2007 that a more robust, scalable and advanced version of AFRA was required.
About OAG Cargo
OAG Cargo, a UBM Aviation brand, is a leading provider of solutions for the air freight industry, delivering decision support tools that can be integrated into an organization's workflow to optimize the planning of shipments. The portfolio includes solutions for air freight rates, cargo schedules, operational announcements, dangerous goods and more. For further information, please visit http://www.oagcargo.com.
About UBM Aviation
UBM Aviation, a UBM company, brings together buyers and sellers of air travel and transport through our portfolio of products and services. We specialize in the supply of data, analytics, consulting services, events and media related to the global aviation industry. Our leading brands include the official provider of aviation data and analytics, OAG; a leading provider of solutions for the air freight industry, OAG Cargo; the world-renowned provider of airport route development forums, marketing and networking events, Routes; the leading route development consultancy firm, Airport Strategy & Marketing (ASM); an international program of aviation exhibitions and conferences including the Airline Purchasing & Maintenance Conference & Expo; and must-read aviation publications such as Aircraft Technology Engineering & Maintenance and Airline Fleet Management. For more information, visit http://www.ubmaviation.com.
OAG Cargo is a UBM Aviation brand. For more information, please contact:
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