Barbara Babati 07.12.2017 9 min read

Why do airlines need to automate e-AWB validation?

IATA has recognized that air shipping can only be more successful among shippers and freight forwarders if the processes are simplified, more efficient, and completely digitalized and automated.

The paper air waybill has traditionally been an important air cargo document as it served as the contract between the air carriers and the shippers (direct shipper or freight forwarder on behalf of the shipper).

The history of the Air Waybill goes back to 1929 when the Warsaw Convention was held for the Unification of Certain Rules Related to International Transportation by Air. The convention consent to the implementation of the Air Waybill as a document made out by or on behalf of the shipper which evidences the contract between the shipper and carrier for carriage of cargo over routes of carrier.

A few years back, IATA has launched its e-freight initiative. The first element of this has been the complete roll out of electronic air waybills in EDI (electronic data interchange) format. By completely removing paper air waybills, the purpose of IATA was to simplify the air freight supply chain process.

There are several benefits for implementing e-AWB for all stakeholders of the air freight value chain. First, removing paper is reducing the costs of the process. It also improves the accuracy of the data to a certain degree and it helps all stakeholders to have real-time access to the air waybill data at every location. Using electronic air waybills can also significantly reduce shipment handling delay due to missing or illegible paper air waybill. Previously, due to the absence of an electronic air waybill standard, paper air waybills were exchanged between the shipper and the carrier at origin as evidence of the contract. The paper air waybill is now sent in electronic format from origin to destination, not transported with the shipment but produced upon demand.

So, if e-AWBs should make the industry more efficient then where lies the problem?

Despite the initiative of having more accurate data available in real-time, a notable portion of electronic air waybills still contain missing or false data. Without automating the inspection of the electronic documents, an extensive amount of human labor is required to ensure that the data is flawless. 

We have heard from many airlines that they struggle with fixing all the issues with the data. Up to 70% of the e-AWBs have some flaws. If you receive 100 000 e-AWBs a month, then 70 000 of those need to be corrected. Reviewing all the data, forwarding it back to sender, receiving it again, checking again, enriching manually – it all takes an extensive amount of work. To fix all the issues you may need to hire up to 8 people to ensure that the data is enriched and corrected in a timely manner. 

Is there a better solution?

Luckily, there is. After discussing this issue with several airlines, we have seen the need for a service that can free them from the burden of correcting and enriching data in the e-AWBs. 

We have built a service that automates the entire process, not only making it faster, but also a lot more cost-effective, as you do not need to hire people to do this job. 

When freight forwarders, shippers and sales agents send airlines e-AWBs, the document first goes through Youredi’s e-AWB validation platform that handles the following four tasks: 

  1. Validates the data
  2. Transforms the format if necessary
  3. Sends notifications to the sender and requests modification of the false or missing data
  4. Enriches data based on the airline’s rules

This process can be repeated as many times as necessary.

What are the benefits of automating the e-AWB validation process?


By automating the process airlines could achieve better data quality and decrease the manual work needed. This has speeded up the handling times of e-AWBs, airlines have seen a significant decrease in delays in deliveries and fewer unexpected offloads. The operations didn’t only become more efficient, but airlines have seen a significant decrease in costs related to this process and they were able to improve their gross profit margins on the shipments.

Using our tool allows airlines to have full visibility over all the electronic air waybills in real-time on any device for all relevant stakeholders and send notifications to General Sales Agents (GSAs), Freight Forwarders, and Ground Handling Agents (GHAs). 

Additionally, we offer FHL/FWB audit trail in real-time to all parties, as well as the possibility to search specific data, create queries and reports.


Your success depends on automated processes


Embracing IATA’s e-AWB initiative has been the first step towards success. Improving and speeding up how you handle your electronic documents will make a big difference and get the industry closer to full digitalization of processes related to air cargo shipments.

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