After nearly eight years of urging, pushing and prodding – which only managed to get today’s e-AWB penetration to 55.9 per cent – the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has taken the surprise step of making the e-AWB the “default contract”.
While clearly stopping short of making the e-AWB mandatory, as some believe necessary, IATA said effective 1 January 2019, the electronic Air Waybill (e-AWB) will become “the default contract of carriage for all air cargo shipments on enabled trade lanes.”
IATA adds: “This key industry milestone ushers air cargo into a new era where digital processes will be the norm and paper processes will be the exception.”
The claimed benefits of the e-AWB include:
• Elimination of paper based processes
• Improved efficiency and reliability of the overall cargo handling process
• Faster delivery times
• Decrease handling errors
• Positive impact on the environment with reduced paper usage
IATA introduced e-AWB in 2010 with the objective to initiate the digitalisation of the air cargo supply chain. Describing the e-AWB initiative as “a key enabler to the digitalisation and transformation of our industry, as data availability and quality is critical to deliver innovative solutions and enhance customer experience.
“The growing number of stakeholders using e-AWB demonstrates that the industry is ready and committed to embrace the full digitalisation of the air cargo industry,” IATA adds.
IATA continues to encourage all air cargo industry stakeholders to switch to e-AWB at the earliest opportunity, unless a paper air waybill may still be required due to applicable international treaties, national law, or as bilaterally agreed between the parties.