Driving air freight change

The e-Air Waybill and Cargo IQ initiatives

Air cargo; a transport mode that is integral to many facets of our modern lives, is undergoing a revolution to improve performance and drive down transit times by 2020.

Getting perishable goods from developing economies to markets in industrialised nations would not be possible without air transport.

The pharmaceutical industry relies on air transport for its speed and efficiency in transporting high-value, time and temperature sensitive cargo, particularly vaccines.

Carriage of live animals by air is considered the most humane and expedient method of transportation over long distances.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is the trade association for the world’s airlines, supporting performance by formulating policy and driving the development of global standards and systems.

Speed is the primary unique selling point for air freight, as highlighted by IATA’s Global Head of Cargo. “Cutting average shipment times by 2020 would make a huge difference to the industry’s value proposition. Game-changing innovation is sorely needed in air cargo.”

IATA’s head of cargo went on to add. “We face significant challenges in the areas of efficiency, security, and sustainability and the entire industry needs to commit to new innovative processes.”

In a concerted drive to create new quality and performance standards an IATA interest group of representative airlines, freight forwarders, ground-handling agents, trucking companies and IT solution providers (Cargo IQ) are working together to develop a system of shipment planning and performance improvement for air cargo based on common business processes and milestones.

In an emerging development the Global Shippers’ Forum (GSF) have just signed a Memorandum of Understanding with this IATA Caro IQ group to work together towards a more efficient, quality-driven, and secure air cargo supply chain.

Air cargo still relies heavily on paper documentation for the exchange of information. The AWB (Air Waybill) is the most important transportation document in Air Cargo.

Each international air freight shipment can require more than 30 different paper documents, which is why a big part of the ‘speed’ initiative is moving to e-AWB, or electronic air waybill, which will eventually eliminate the paper documentation that can have a disproportionate impact on air freight performance.

The e-AWB has been recognised as an industry priority by the Global Air Cargo Advisory Group (GACAG) and endorsed by both the air trade association TIACA and the surface trade association FIATA.

Developed collaboratively with industry stakeholders, the e-Air Waybill removes the requirement for a paper Air Waybill (AWB) bringing accuracy, confidentiality and efficiency.

The eAWB360 initiative was launched to accelerate e-AWB penetration and increase adoption of e-AWB at the top 50 e-Airports, with the goal of achieving 55% e-AWB penetration.

A robust air cargo management solution can make electronic documentation available to everyone who needs it instantaneously, accelerating the whole process and increasing the differentiation between air and sea freight providers, increasing the attractiveness and viability of air freight as a strategic option.