IATA's ten cargo resolutions as e-AWB penetration misses 2016 target

25 / 01 / 2017

  • Global electronic air waybill (e-AWB) penetration reached 48.9% in December 2016, again falling short of the full year target of 56%

IATA has issued ten New Year resolutions for the global air cargo industry.

Top of the list is “embrace e-commerce growth” which accelerated 23.7% in 2016: “Online sales are on the increase, demand is high as well as the need for quick delivery, which creates a significant opportunity for air cargo,” said Glyn Hughes, IATA’s global head of cargo. 

Second is “remove paper”, of which Hughes said: “Today one air cargo shipment can still require up to 30 pieces of paper. The industry needs to accelerate the implementation of end-to-end paperless transportation processes through implementation of programs such e-freight and e-AWB.”

Global electronic air waybill (e-AWB) penetration reached 48.9% in December 2016 with a 682,664 digital documents on feasible trade lanes, again falling short of the full year target of 56%.

However, according to the latest e-cargo briefing by IATA, an e-AWB penetration rate of 62% can be achieved by end of 2017, using a forecasting model based on the historical achievement.

The remaining eight resolution topics are: enhance the movement of trade, standardized processes for transport of time and temperature sensitive goods, collaborate to combat illegal trafficking, eliminate rogue lithium batteries shippers, one digital language, implement piece level tracking, stay positive, and never forget. 

As part of the process to encourage further e-AWB adoption by airlines and forwarders, IATA has launched an e-AWB implementation playbook in pdf format, which presents the different steps to go through for successful implementation.

IATA said that the air cargo industry processed more than 2.3m air waybills in November 2016, with three main regions representing 75% of the AWBs: Europe, Asia Pacific and North Asia.

However, the historic challenges to e-AWB implementation remain and include such factors as e-AWBs are not possible in all airports and all trade lanes due to regulatory limitations. E-AWB procedures are not harmonized between freight forwarders, airlines and ground handling agents in key airports where e-AWB is live.

Many of the small and medium sized enterprise (SME) forwarders do not have the technical capability/EDI enabled systems to enable them to transmit shipment data to airlines.

Meanwhile, some large forwarders face the same issue: their local branches are the result of SME forwarders acquisition and their IT systems have not been aligned with the rest of the company.

In addition, perceived complexity to do e-AWB for forwarders dealing with multiple airlines and some markets reached a certain level of maturity where the major actors (airlines/freight forwarders) have already achieved the biggest potential.

IATA said that In order to address the e-AWB “adoption challenges” and to “accelerate the growth” in the penetration rate, this year will see initiatives identified in 2016 continued and strengthened in 2017.

Those initiatives include continuing the government supported e-freight initiatives in key locations and to complement the list of standard operating processes (SOPs) at e-airports, especially airports to be included in the 2017 eAWB360 roadmap.

A further initiative in November 2016 saw the launch of an e-AWB desktop solution for SME freight forwarders called eAWBLink, a low-cost alternative to existing solutions.

IATA will also deploy eAWB360 initiatives at additional airports, in particular in Europe.

All of the topics in the resolutions list will be discussed at the IATA World Cargo Symposium which takes place in Abu Dhabi on March 14-16.