IATA, Shanghai to promote e-freight jointly

ShanghaiSHANGHAI – IATA and the city of Shanghai, China, are partnering on an initiative to help stamp out cumbersome paper processes in the logistics industry.

On March 10, during IATA’s World Cargo Symposium, the organization announced that it had signed a “letter of initiative” to promote e-freight efforts jointly with Shanghai Customs, Shanghai Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau, Shanghai Airport Authority, China Eastern Airlines and Shanghai E-port.

Under the terms of the agreement, the six organizations said they will cooperate to phase out the need for a security check stamp on paper air waybills (AWB). The groups will also work toward eliminating the need for paper AWB and facilitate the implementation of paperless customs clearance at Shanghai Pudong Airport by optimizing and streamlining data sharing between the parties

“China is the second-largest market for international freight by air. With much of the world’s manufacturing taking place in China, it is essential that processes are kept as efficient as possible,” said Zhang Baojian, IATA’s regional vice president for North Asia. “This can be achieved through partnership and adoption of global standards. This agreement will bolster Shanghai’s position as a leading airfreight hub in China and in the world.”

The air cargo industry is well-known for its paper-intensive processes. E-freight is a global initiative to modernize the air cargo industry and enhance efficiency by eliminating the pouch of more than 20 documents that accompany every air cargo shipment.

IATA’s target is to achieve 45 percent e-AWB penetration globally by the end of 2015, and 80 percent by the end of 2016. At the end of 2014, the penetration rate was 24.9 percent.

E-freight pilots have been implemented at Shanghai Pudong Airport, Guangzhou Baiyun Airport and Beijing Capital Airport. In June 2014, China Cargo Airlines successfully launched the pilot e-AWB pilot at Shanghai Pudong Airport. To date, Shanghai is the leading airport in China in terms of the number of e-AWBs processed.

Shanghai Pudong Airport ranks third globally for cargo handled and is the gateway for more than 60 percent of China’s cargo throughput. In 2014, Shanghai Pudong Airport saw an 8 percent increase in its cargo throughput.

The e-freight initiative was tied to an announcement from IATA on the same day, calling for further action on three vital aspects of the air cargo business: transitioning to paperless freight processes, focusing on global handling standards for pharmaceutical freight and taking tougher action to ensure the continued safe transportation of lithium batteries by air.

“We still have work to do to help businesses transition, but there has been a big change in the mentality of the industry,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

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