Return to Stories
Cathay Cargo brings automation and shipment visibility to postal shipments with Cathay Mail

Cathay Cargo brings automation and shipment visibility to postal shipments with Cathay Mail

New digital solution provides a superior customer experience for post offices

Cathay Cargo has enhanced its integrated mail platform with Cathay Mail, a refined digital solution that re-envisages the mail-shipment process, generating greater transparency for post offices and providing the track-and-trace visibility their customers expect.

With Cathay Mail, Cathay Cargo is able to provide a superior customer experience that better caters to the requirements of post offices for shipment visibility, reliability and speed.

Director Cargo Tom Owen said: “Cathay Mail highlights how we have adapted technology and digitalisation to offer real benefits to our customers. By fully integrating mail-handling functions with our cargo operations and expertise, our innovative new mail solution provides a sophisticated suite of tools and facilities to support our postal partners.”

Cathay Cargo’s refreshed “mail as cargo” solution integrates mail-handling data with air cargo systems using the PAWB – the postal air waybill. This use of electronic data interchange (EDI) technology removes much of the previous shipment paperwork and gives both origin and destination post offices, and designated operators, more visibility of shipments down to mail bag (or “receptacle”) level, allowing them to offer package-level track-and-trace visibility to e-commerce shippers.

The information also enables Cathay Cargo to manage capacity against actual volumes of mail on flights, so it can make allowances for surges in ad hoc demand, or make unused space available for other cargo.

There is an additional benefit for mail heading to Europe where, by making the information available in advance, mail shipments will be compliant with the European Union’s new ICS2 customs requirements, which are being introduced this year.

Thanks to the digital data available from the PAWB, it is now easier not only to reconcile shipments for billing, but also to measure performance. Cathay Cargo will be adding KPIs to its mail performance monitoring suite, which is accessible on the EzyPost platform. Indices such as on-time delivery and visibility performance will be accessible and updated from live data.

Cathay Cargo will aim to outperform the 95% industry “visibility performance” standard, and will set its own stretch targets to ensure it exceeds contractual standards. The EzyPost platform will also produce monthly reports that will be available to post office customers. This accessible and more accurate data will simplify the measurement of contractual performance.

Cathay Mail also enables efficient operational recovery should an aircraft be grounded at an intermediate stop. Staff will be able to identify and segregate express mail shipments for priority uplift, and this will be visible in the system.

“This new investment in our mail-handling capability increases the attractiveness of Hong Kong as a global mail hub, giving post offices the confidence to move mail more seamlessly to, from and through Hong Kong,” added Owen.

One of these post offices is Hongkong Post, which participated in earlier “mail as cargo” trials. Hongkong Post Business Director (External Affairs) Steve Lau said: “Cathay Cargo has been a trusted, long-term partner of Hongkong Post and assists in conveying outbound and transit mail to destinations worldwide. While the pandemic had a tremendous impact on the aviation industry, we worked hand in hand with Cathay Cargo and overcame the challenges. Looking forward, and as the home carrier in Hong Kong, Cathay Cargo will continue to be our close partner to support the growth of e-commerce businesses and position Hong Kong as a major hub in the region.”

The new technology in the mail solution offers a firm foundation for that ambition. Cathay Cargo’s Tom Owen said: “Cathay Mail will improve on Cathay Cargo’s existing mail service levels by offering high-visibility performance and improved-on time-delivery performance. This updated solution expands and optimises the use of EDI that, with the PAWB, delivers an enhanced level of customer performance and real tangible benefits to our post office customers and our own operational performance.”

For more information about Cathay Mail, click here.

Supplementary information

How the PAWB and EDI work

Ordinarily, airlines have little visibility of mail shipments. Mail is prepared in sealed bags at origin postal terminals and delivered to air cargo terminals for loading. Airlines are given conveyance instructions via a CARDIT (CARrier/Documents International Transport advice) message, and in return they send a RESDIT (RESponse to Documents International Transport advice) to acknowledge receipt.

Cathay Mail uses electronic data interchange (EDI) technology to integrate this limited messaging into Cathay Cargo’s own system. Now when a post office customer issues a CARDIT, Cathay Cargo will issue a PAWB (postal air waybill). This gives post offices visibility of the bags in each CARDIT and, therefore, the location of individual packages in each bag on their own systems.

Ongoing updates to the devices and apps that scan mail bags have delivered increased visibility and efficiency since the programme began. Bags can now “nest” in a Unit Load Device (ULD), which simplifies the scanning process and boosts efficiency. When the ULD is scanned, it captures the check-in status of the shipment and makes handling the shipment for onward flights or delivery more straightforward.