Electronic Air Waybill (e-AWB) penetration in 2015 was below 40 percent, even though the target was close to 45 percent. IATA continues to work aggressively with carriers, forwarders and handlers to enable e-AWB penetration. For 2016, their goal is to reach 56 percent by the end of the year.
To assist in the uptake of e-AWB, IATA kicked off the eAWB360 campaign in Frankfurt on February 2016 with 135 participating stakeholders. These stakeholders derive from across the supply chain, including Forwarders, GHAs and Carriers. Since February 1, the e-AWB standard operating procedures define the steps to participation in e-AWB in Frankfurt. The objective is to simplify and standardize the processes and technical aspects of e-AWB.
Beginning May 3rd, the eAWB360 initiative will hit North America. Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport is set to become the first airport to implement the program, followed by nine other airports: Toronto Pearson International, Vancouver International, John F. Kennedy International, Dallas Fort Worth International, O’Hare International, Los Angeles International, Miami International and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International.
Not only are the airports participating, but the Airlines are actively participating in eAWB360 also. They have agreed to the three pillars of this initiative, which are, single process, standard operating procedures at each airport and a joint communication effort.
Participating eAWB360 airlines in the Americas are: Aeromexico, American Airlines, Air Canada, Air France, China Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Delta Air Lines, Finnair, KLM, Korean Airlines, Lan Cargo, Lufthansa Cargo, Qatar Airways, Saudia Cargo, Swiss and United.
With all this activity, the question must still be raised. How ready are the participants, both airlines and airports, to actively engage and process e-AWB with the penetration and uptake being so slow? Knowing that the Airway Bill is merely one document within the framework of e-Freight.
Airlines and Airports must seek out technology partners that can engage quickly, deliver projects in weeks rather than months, and complete them at a cost that justifies the effort. With all the constraints on the air cargo industry, do the stakeholders want to, or are they willing to incur this cost? And what cost should one pay to transact a FWB/XFWB, FFM/XFFB, FHL/XFHL or FSU/XFSU file; a $1, $0.20? If we look at other industries I would suggest around the $0.03 - $0.07 per document.
As a technology provider, we need to simplify and reduce the cost to all parties involved in eFreight.