DALLAS — Qantas’ (QF) freight division is facing a significant backlog due to issues with a new cargo management system. Legacy data integration attempts on September 24 encountered glitches, causing substantial delays in digital communication and cargo processing.
As a result, QF says it expects it will take up to two weeks to restore normal operations in Sydney and Melbourne and seven days in Brisbane.
The airline has acknowledged the slower progress and plans to extend collection hours to expedite recovery. However, criticism has been raised, particularly from Paul Zalai, Director of the Freight & Trade Alliance, with potential demands for compensation from freight forwarders affected by the multiday delays.
While there have been some improvements in picking up shipments, the challenges are far from over. According to FreightWaves.com, the new system struggles with communication with X-ray scanning machines, messaging breakdowns with Australian Customs for clearing imports, and difficulties in tracking shipment locations.
Scrambling for Solutions
The airline, which operates both domestic and international freighters and manages cargo for its own aircraft and partner airlines, says it is committed to resolving the situation and restoring smooth operations for its customers.
In response to the crisis, QF has begun to recruit additional staff and third-party assistance for staging loads, manual data processing, implementing safety measures for overnight work, and creating extra staging and delivery areas.
Qantas has also prioritized critical commodities, ensuring swift clearance and aircraft space allocation for essential items like human organs, urgent medical products, animals, emergency aircraft repair parts, and perishables.
Finally, the airline has requested that freight forwarders utilize designated communication channels instead of contacting employees directly, as it creates duplications of effort. Qantas Freight plans to involve more third-party providers to speed up cargo processing.
The crisis facing the cargo arm of the third-oldest airline in the world sheds light on the challenges the industry can face when integrating legacy data processed by outdated technology into any new IT rollout.
[Clearing] the backlog… is not as fast as we’d hoped or as quickly as you’d expect.Qantas Freight
Featured image: Qantas Freight Boeing 767-300ERSF VH-EFR. Photo by Qantas