Friday, April 24, 2020

AirAsia launches Freightchain, a blockchain-based air cargo network

 


AirAsia has launched a blockchain-based air cargo network, aiming to make it easy and convenient to book for cargo space on its airlines. Known as Freightchain, it seeks to eliminate the tedious manual process previously involved, making it convenient for both the clients and the airline.

AirAsia, which is Malaysia's largest airline, launched the network through Teleport, its logistics arm. It allows the clients to view the available cargo spaces on its airlines and make bookings in real time. It relies on a bidding process, enabling the clients to make informed decisions on costs and convenience.

Freightchain will replace the previous system where the clients would manually search for the cargo airlines that best suit their needs. This process was quite tedious, with the clients often having to send several emails and make calls to several airlines. Even then, they were not sure they were getting the best deals and often had to settle for what they got.

Launching Freightchain under the current COVID-19 pandemic was strategic, the network's CTO Vishal Batra said. The crisis has brought global supply chains to their feet, with many critical players being forced to shut down operations. Freightchain can take advantage of this, and help bridge this gap, Batra believes.

He commented, "We deliberately launched Freightchain during this period of uncertainty within global supply chains, caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Agile software platforms like Freightchain help to connect uneven supply and demand amidst a rapidly evolving environment. Trust and transparency are needed now more than ever."

In its pilot, Freightchain shipped pharmaceutical products from Bangalore in India to Ulan Bator in Mongolia. Since direct flights from the two locations weren't available, the system scheduled connecting flights via Malaysia and South Korea, connecting three different carriers. The network utilized smart contracts and according to AirAsia, the process was ten times faster.

AirAsia revealed that the network will benefits the airlines as well, allowing them to manage their cargo space better. For instance, it will allow clients to take advantage of underutilized flights to ship their cargo at a lower rate, with both the airline and the clients standing to benefit.

AirAsia has seen a big turnaround since businessman Tony Fernandes took over in 2003. It was only then that the company, previously owned by the government, became profitable. Fernandes has gone on to make AirAsia one of the world's leading low-cost airlines. The savvy businessman has sought to expand the company's interests into payments with the BigPay e-wallet. As he told CoinGeek a few years back, his goal is to democratize remittances.

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