e-AWB target of 56% by end of 2016 says IATA

IATA Cargo has set a 56% target for electronic air waybill (e-AWB) usage by the end of 2016, despite missing the 45% target for 2015.
In October this year, the figure for e-AWB penetration was just 35.1% but Guillaume Drucy, IATA’s head of cargo e-business management, remained hopeful that ratio would lay between 38%-40% by the end of December.
Drucy said: “That is still short of the industry target of 45% but it is a very respectable growth figure for the industry which now has a monthly growth rate now of between 1%-1.5%.”
He added that widespread e-AWB usage was “one of the key areas if air cargo is to move into the digital world”.
He added: “We have reduced the reliance on paper by greater use of e-freight. We still have a lot of work to do but we are nearly half-way in that endeavour.”
Explaining the importance of the digital transfer, Drucy said that the AWB was “at the heart of the air transport process as the contract of carriage, serving very often as the delivery note. If we can digitise the air waybill then we will have gone a long way to achieving the goal of being paperless.”
He said that the strong underlying story of “momentum” behind adoption of the e-AWB is that there are now “twice as many airports, forwarders and airlines which have an e-AWB penetration of above 50%,” citing the example of 30 mega-forwarders worldwide who are above the 50% breakpoint.
This was particularly significant, said Drucy, because in the past, the main hurdle was making the e-AWB attractive to the freight forwarder community.
He said that the advance of a “single process” undertaken by the airline, which now applied to nearly all destinations, was a key factor in greater adoption by forwarders.
Another factor was a growing number of airports where airlines agreed common standards in operating procedures across the board, again making the process simpler for the forwarders.
Asked about the precise figure of 56% as a target for 2016, Drucy explained that by next year around 70% of the world trade lanes will be able to process an e-AWB from a regulatory standpoint. IATA will also introduce a new, simple and low cost and low tech industry tool, aimed at the small and medium forwarder, that will also promote greater use of the e-AWB.
But the most important initiative will be the roll out of the eAWB360 programme that will be aimed at the “final challenge of coordination synchronisation”.
“What we are doing with eAWB360 is to get as many airlines as possible to synchronise their plans by implementing the same processes at the same places, at the same time.
“We already have 17 airlines committed to this project. They will launch in a synchronised and coordinated way in Amsterdam in January, then in London and Frankfurt in February, followed in March by another six airports.
“What is also very important is that the airlines are making very clear statements that they are switching over to e-AWBs as the preferred means of shipping cargo.”
Drucy concluded: “We have very solid momentum, and we are not only looking to go paperless, but to improve the process.”

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