IATA is working with seven key cargo airlines – Air Canada, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, KLM, Martinair, SAS and Singapore Airlines – freight forwarders (DHL Global Forwarding, Panalpina, Kuehne+Nagel, Schenker, TMI Group-Roadair, Jetspeed) and ground handling agents kick-started the move to a paper-free air cargo environment with the launch of six e-freight pilot projects. Starting today, cargo on key trade routes connecting Canada, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Singapore, Sweden and the U.K will be processed electronically.
“The paper-free era for air freight begins today,” said Giovanni Bisignani, Director General & CEO of IATA. “This first wave of pilots will pave the way for a global rollout of e-freight that will eliminate the paper that costs this industry $1.2 billion every year. Combined, these documents could fill 39 B747 cargo freighters each year making e-freight—a win for the business and for the environment.”
“E-freight is a revolution for an industry that is absolutely critical to modern life. For airlines it is a US$55 billion business that generates 12% of their revenues. More broadly air cargo transports 35% of the total value of goods traded across borders. The potential impact of greater efficiency in air cargo has very broad implications across the global economy,” said Bisignani.
E-freight pilots will systematically test for the first time common standards, processes, procedures and systems designed to replace paper documents that typically accompany air freight with electronic information. During the initial phase, selected shipments will travel without a number of key documents that make up the majority of the paperwork, including the house and master air waybills. Results from the pilots will be used to expand e-freight to other territories.
IATA e-freight requires that business, technical and legal frameworks are in place to allow airlines, freight forwarders, customs administrations and governments to seamlessly exchange electronic information and e-documents. The six pilot locations were selected based on their ability to meet these criteria along with offering network connectivity and sufficient cargo volumes.
At each location cargo experts from participating airlines, freight forwarders, ground handling agents, local customs administrations and airport authorities worked together closely over the past 10 months to prepare the pilots.
“High oil prices and cumbersome processing requirements are handicapping air transport’s competitiveness with sea shipping,” said Bisignani. “Sea shipping is expected to grow at 6% annually over the next five years, compared to 4.8% for air cargo. E-freight makes a four-decade leap, bringing strengthened competitiveness by cutting costs and improving transparency and consistency throughout the supply chain. This good news for the customer will help shore-up air transport’s competitiveness with sea shipping and other modes of transport.”
E-freight is one of five Simplifying the Business projects being led by IATA to improve service and cut costs. The industry has set a deadline of the end of 2010 for the implementation of e-freight wherever feasible.