- 02 Aug 2016
In 2006, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) first launched the e-freight initiative as part of its “Simplifying the Business (StB)” program. e-Air WayBill implementation was initially optional from 2010 to 2011 for e-freight participants, but starting 2012, e-AWB was made mandatory for all e-freight shipments on IATA e-freight trade lanes. The goal of e-freight was to get the air cargo community to work together to digitize the air cargo process. It began with the replacement of the paper air waybill (AWB) with the electronic version, the e-AWB.
“e-AWB” describes the exchange of electronic data interchange (EDI) messages between the shipper, freight forwarder, carrier and ground handling agent (GHA) to conclude the contract of carriage. Because the air waybill is the most critical document in air cargo, the switch to electronic can significantly streamline the process, improve accuracy and boost efficiency.
e-Air Waybill has many benefits for stakeholders in air cargo industry, these include, but not limited to:
• Eliminating or reducing costs associated with document processing, storage, office space, office equipment, and document transportation (to and from forwarder to airline and from warehouse to flight).
• Increasing productivity by eliminating redundant data entry, manual checking, and comparison between system and paper AWB information, document filing, and the risk of losing paper documents. Because information can be accessed in real-time, agents and forwarders can move cargo as scheduled.
• Reducing total cycle time by up to 24 hours. Speeding up the processing of airfreight shipments and customs clearance where applicable. You can send and receive relevant shipment data ahead of the cargo and amend information up until the cargo reaches the station. The auto-populate feature reduces delays due to inaccurate or inconsistent data entry. For airlines, e-AWB streamlines the processing of high-volume shipments.
• Helping companies improve regulatory compliance by providing accurate data. Information can be easily tracked, traced and archived.
• Ensuring high reliability. Data comes directly from the shipper or forwarder, and the information is entered only once in most cases to reduce the risk of error and duplication. e-AWB tools feature checks to ensure that information entered is correct, consistent and complete. Delays due to missing info or illegible paper documents can be avoided.
How the e-Air Waybill (e-AWB) Single Process Works
Certain trade lanes or routes require paper AWB due to regulatory, operational or other reasons. This was one of the challenges to e-AWB adoption by forwarders, who needed to determine when and where a paper AWB must be generated while maintaining a parallel process for paper and electronic. To reduce the complexity, the IATA recommended the use of a “Single Process” by forwarders.
Under the single process, a forwarder always sends electronic AWB to the airline and never a paper AWB. It is the airline that determines when a paper document is required. If needed, the airline prints a paper AWB on behalf of the forwarder based on the electronic data. The single process greatly simplifies AWB processing in all routes for freight forwarders and helps accelerate e-AWB adoption. Because the airline makes the decision whether to use paper or electronic AWB, the associated liability risk is also reduced.
Before using the e-AWB single process, the airline and freight forwarder must sign the multilateral or bilateral e-AWB agreement. The multilateral agreement requires the party to sign only once with IATA to be able to perform e-AWB with all other parties. Airlines and forwarders must ensure that their systems are ready to transmit e-AWB messages and that the quality of the messages is high. e-AWB single process and common standard operating procedures (SOP) should be observed. Carriers must coordinate with their employees and ground handling agents on the SOP and communicate the benefits to forwarders.
The air cargo industry is moving steadily toward 100 percent e-AWB adoption, and the IATA has set an aggressive 2016 global e-AWB penetration target of 56%, up by 11% from the 2015 target of 45%.
The good news is the significant increase in e-AWB adoption by large global freight forwarders and the move of major airlines to e-AWB as the preferred method for all destinations. The IATA wants to speed up e-AWB adoption among small and medium-sized forwarders who generate about 25 percent of the total AWBs issued. Smaller forwarders are reluctant to adopt e-AWB for many reasons, one of which is the technology investment involved. Another is the general difficulty of transitioning a business to the new way of doing things. To address these, they can consider consulting with third party e-Air Waybill service providers.
To accelerate 100 percent e-AWB adoption, the IATA has launched the eAWB360 initiative, a call to action campaign that involves the entire air cargo community. eAWB360 consists of coordinated events and activities at e-AWB airports around the world. The first phase of the campaign kicked off last February, and it is now in its second phase in North America.
e-AWB Go Live and 360 Launch Session – Atlanta
e-AWB goes live at Atlanta Airport (ATL) on September 1, 2016. Before this, the eAWB360 Launch Session will be held on August 16, 2016. A session is a half-day event that brings together representatives (from airlines, ground handling agents, freight forwarders and technology providers) and participants from the air cargo industry to share information and discuss e-AWB implementation.
As of April 2016, ALT has the highest e-AWB penetration (50.20 percent) among the six e-Airports in the United States. ATL is also ranked no. 17 among the 50 priority e-Airports by e-AWB volume over the past 12 months. There are currently 12 participating airlines at Atlanta airport:
AA American Airlines
AC Air Canada
AF Air France
CI China Airlines
CX Cathay Pacific
DL Delta Airlines
KE Korean Air
LH Lufthansa Cargo
QR Qatar Airways
UA United Airlines
There is still great potential for improving e-AWB adoption in Atlanta. The IATA and Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association (CIFFA) invite the community to attend the e-AWB launch session on August 16. It is an excellent opportunity to learn about e-AWB, e-AWB readiness and other important issues.
For more details and to register, please visit the Cargo Network Services (CNS) page:
Event: e-AWB Launch Session
Date: August 16, 2016
Venue: Delta Training Center 1021 N Outer Loop Road, Atlanta, GA 30354
Participants: Representatives from CNS, Technology Partners, Airlines, Cargo Agents and Freight Forwarders
Sponsors: CNS, CIFFA, Airforwarders Association, Airlines for America, IT Solutions Providers
CrimsonLogic Global eTrade Services e-Air Waybill (e-AWB) Solution
After signing the multilateral agreement with IATA, freight forwarders must ensure that their systems can support e-AWB and that the quality of the e-AWB messages is high. The system (EDI option) must be able to send FWB messages, receive FSU/RCS messages, archive FWB and FSU/RCS messages and print individual documents on demand. For some small and midsize freight forwarders, the technology investment can be very high. Instead of building an e-AWB system from scratch, those lacking EDI capability can access an online web solution provided by a trusted technology partner like CrimsonLogic's Global eTrade Services (GeTS).
CrimsonLogic GeTS has been helping the air cargo community accelerate e-AWB implementation with best-in-class solutions for airlines, cargo agents, forwarders and other stakeholders in Atlanta and other locations. Global eTrade Solutions’ e-AWB service allows forwarders to connect directly to over 90 airlines from a web portal, access data anytime, use templates, archive e-AWB information, receive automatic status notifications, generate reports, and access 24/7 customer support. It’s easy to get started; after registering with CrimsonLogic GeTS and signing the multilateral agreement, check if your stations are ready to accept e-AWB messages, and go live.