Teleport, the logistics division of major airline, AirAsia, has launched a blockchain-based cargo booking system called Freightchain.

According to an April 16 announcement, Freightchain is “the world’s first digital air cargo network run on blockchain.” The network — which is launching today — allows shippers or freight forwarders to instantly book and confirm any of AirAsia’s 247 aircraft to carry cargo.

Freightchain assigns shippers and their freight forwarders to cargo connections to help them with their supply chain needs, and facilitate bookings in real-time which are processed on-chain. The project’s chief technology officer, Vishal Batra, explained that the network is meant to assist businesses during the pandemic:

“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.”

The Freightchain network was already tested when shipping pharmaceutical cargo from Bengaluru, India to Ulan Bator, Mongolia. Due to the unavailability of direct flights from Bengaluru to Ulan Bator, the cargo had to go via Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Seoul, South Korea.

The booking was confirmed in real-time with flights from three different carriers through a blockchain smart contract. In a traditional system, the shipper would need to manually inquire about the availability of connecting flights with multiple airlines and agents. This oftens requires a lot of time spent on phone calls and emails. The new system is reportedly much more efficient when it comes to both the amount of work needed and the speed of execution:

“Freightchain simplified the booking process and confirmed the itinerary 10 times faster for shippers by programmatically discovering the available routes with connecting flights within the shipper's budget and passing on significant cost savings to shippers. For the airlines, the dynamic on-demand interlining of flights helped improve otherwise underutilized flights.”

AirAsia’s chief technology officer Vishal Batra told Cointelegraph that its system is based on Hyperledger’s Sawtooth blockchain technology and was developed in-house by the firm, adding:

“We may have cryptocurrency in the future depending on how the regulations evolve in this domain.”

Blockchain use in the shipping industry

The availability of a shared ledger like the one offered by blockchain technology is — according to many — a much-needed innovation to help manage the complexity of modern logistics. As Cointelegraph recently reported, the World Economic Forum pointed out in a recent report that blockchain technology can help with the global supply chain chaos.

Meanwhile, the adoption of blockchain in the logistics industry is proceeding at a rapidly increasing pace. For instance, in mid-March Chinese e-commerce giant, Alibaba, announced that its import e-commerce platform, Koala, now uses a full-link traceability blockchain system.