Starting March 2016, major airlines have begun using electronic air waybill (e-AWB) as the preferred method of air freight shipment for all destinations. This is a significant push towards e-AWB adoption in the air cargo industry, emphasizing the urgency to switch to paperless.
What is e-AWB?
e-AWB is the electronic version of the paper air waybill, a document that serves as a contract of carriage between the freight forwarder and the carrier or airline. The e-AWB eliminates the need to print, handle or archive paper AWB for air freight shipments, which streamlines and accelerates the processing of this crucial document.
The use of Single Process, a standard operating procedure that removes dual processes for electronic and paper, further facilitates the adoption of e-AWB. Under the Single Process, the freight forwarder always sends an electronic e-AWB to the airline. It is the airline that determines whether a paper AWB is needed on certain routes or trade lanes. If a paper document is required, the airline prints the AWB on behalf of the forwarder.
e-AWB has many other benefits for airlines, forwarders, handling agents and other industry stakeholders:
e-AWB is the first step towards a completely paperless air cargo process. Costs associated with paper e-AWB, including equipment, hardware, office space, printing, storage and transportation, are reduced or eliminated when forwarders and airlines use AWB.
Improve data accuracy and speed up processing time.
Because data comes directly from the freight forwarder and is entered only once in most cases, accuracy is improved and the risk of errors and duplication is reduced. Handling delays due to illegible or inaccurate paper AWB are also eliminated. e-AWB can reduce total cycle time by up to 24 hours and accelerate the customs clearance process where applicable.
Real-time access to information.
All personnel can access e-AWB data in real-time and amend data on the electronic form before the cargo reaches the station. Users can send and receive relevant information ahead of the cargo, and retrieve information instantly.
Streamline processing of high-volume shipments.
Airlines use e-AWB data to populate security filings and streamline high-volume airfreight shipments. e-AWB data is also used to print out paper AWB when required.
e-Air Waybill increases productivity by eliminating multiple data entries and manual checks or comparisons between system and paper AWB. There is no need to file, store or handle documents, and there is no risk of losing paper documents.
Improve customer service.
Customers benefit greatly from e-AWB. By providing better data visibility, freight forwarders and stakeholders can track and trace cargo in real time. Forwarders can access the warehouse directly to unload freight after receiving the notification. Alerts also help forwarders correct document issues quickly to avoid delays.
e-AWB allows carriers and ground handling agents secure access to information about dangerous goods and special handling requirements for each shipment. By responding quickly to custom requirements, carriers and agents also improve regulatory compliance and efficiency.
How to Use e-Air Waybill (eAWB)
IATA and the air cargo industry have worked together to develop a multilateral e-AWB agreement. Parties need to sign the agreement with IATA only once to be able to perform e-AWB with all other parties. For example, a freight forwarder that signs the e-AWB with IATA can perform e-AWB with all participating airlines and vice versa.
Six steps to e-AWB readiness:
1. Sign the multilateral agreement with IATA.
2. Ensure that systems and technology are ready for e-AWB.
3. Ensure that e-AWB messages are high quality.
4. Align processes to rely on electronic messages and not on paper documents.
6. Contact the airline to let them know you are ready to start.
The eAWB360 Campaign – Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD)
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) wants to achieve 56 percent global e-AWB penetration by December 2016. As of April 2016, the status is 38.3 percent. To facilitate 100 percent adoption and improve e-AWB readiness among stakeholders, the IATA and the community have launched the eAWB360 program. eAWB360 is a call to action campaign that consists of communication and engagement activities at selected airports around the world. The campaign is aligned with the three pillars of e-AWB: use of a Single Process, common SOP, and joint communication.
The second phase of eAWB360 has started in North America. One of the five participating airports in the United States is Chicago O‘Hare International Airport (ORD). Chicago is the number one e-AWB city in the U.S. by e-AWB volume, and it is an important hub for carriers, handling agents and freight forwarders. Starting in August, participating airlines at Chicago ORD are going to use export e-AWB for all destinations.
Lufthansa Cargo is one of the early adopters of e-AWB at Chicago ORD and a major driver of paperless cargo handling globally. Lufthansa’s local team and the e-AWB Rollout Team worked together to develop and implement the necessary process changes to prepare for e-AWB and Single Process. Customers were also approached to begin or increase the use of e-AWB.
There are 13 participating airlines in ORD:
American Airlines (AA)
Air Canada (AC)
Air France (AF)
China Airlines (CI)
Cathay Pacific CX)
Delta Airlines (DL)
Korean Air (KE)
Lufthansa Cargo (LH)
Qatar Airways (QR)
Saudi Arabian Airlines (SV)
United Airlines (UA)
Electronic Air Waybill Event Details
The eAWB360 event at ORD aims to educate the air cargo community on e-AWB, Single Process, standard operating procedures, and what to expect with the roll out. Stakeholders that are unfamiliar with e-AWB are encouraged to attend the half-day training to learn how e-AWB works, how to prepare for e-AWB, and determine whether your business or software provider can transmit e-AWB data to carriers.
Go Live Date: August 1, 2016
eAWB360 Launch Session: June 16, 2016
Time: 8:00 am to 12:30 pm
Venue: Schaumburg Corporate Center 1501 E. Woodfield Road, Schaumburg, IL 60173.
Sponsors: International Air Cargo Association of Chicago (IACAC), the Chicago Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association (CCBFA), Cargo Network Services (CNS), United Airlines, Roanoke Trade
Participants: Stakeholders and representatives of airlines, ground handling agents and IT solutions providers
The event is free of charge and is a great opportunity for stakeholders to engage with representatives from airlines, ground handling agents and solutions providers. Registration is limited to two (2) representatives per company, per location. Additional representatives will be considered based on space availability.
CrimsonLogic's Global eTrade Services (GeTS) – eAWB Solution
Technology providers like CrimsonLogic's Global eTrade Services play an important role in achieving 100 percent e-Air Waybill adoption at Chicago ORD and other airports. For many years, CrimsonLogic GeTS has been helping forwarders, carriers, handling agents and stakeholders streamline air cargo supply chain processes. CrimsonLogic GETS’ best-in-class e-AWB service allows forwarders to connect immediately to over 90 airlines and transmit e-AWB messages. By eliminating paper-based AWB and using the-AWB service from GeTS, your business can save money and time, improve productivity and help the environment.
Setup is easy. After registering as an IATA cargo agent, the freight forwarder signs the multilateral agreement and registers for a 30-day free trial at the GeTS Air Cargo Connectivity website. You may also download the AWB customer registration form. After registration, the forwarder or cargo agent creates the master air waybill (MAWB) through the GeTS e-AWB system. The system automatically transmits the master and house air waybills to the airline. The airline will send periodic freight status updates (FSU) to let you know if the cargo and documents have been received and accepted.