After review by its legal counsel, the AfA advised members that the e-AWB is a major step forward in facilitating the use of the electronic master Airway Bill transmission between the forwarder and carrier.
The agreement removes the need for bilateral e-AWB agreements between airlines and freight forwarders. Airlines will have a single agreement with IATA that enables them to accept e-AWBs from all participating freight forwarders, while freight forwarders will have a single agreement that will allow them to tender e-AWB shipments to multiple airlines at numerous airports worldwide.
The multilateral e-AWB agreement became possible earlier in 2013 and was approved by governments and endorsed by International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations and other groups worldwide.
The multilateral e-AWB agreement sets the terms for the use of electronic documents between the freight forwarder and carrier, but does not change the Carrier's Conditions of Contract. The agreement only spells out the terms of when the documents are created, when obligations are formed and who is responsible for information.
This agreement does not come into effect until the carrier has joined the system, the freight forwarder has joined the system and the freight forwarder and carrier have agreed to the relevant locations and start dates for their mutual participation. In order for the multilateral e-AWB agreement to be effective, the carrier must send an activation notice to the freight forwarder.
Freight forwarders do not have to join the agreement but once signed, shipments on the agreed upon lane must be tendered using electronic communications as specified in the agreement.