If at first you don’t succeed – try moving the target. That advice may make life a little easier for IATA in the coming year.
Despite an acceleration of companies jumping on the electronic air waybill (e-AWB) bandwagon this year, the estimated penetration rate will likely not rise above 40 percent by the end of this year, which is well short of the 2015 target of 45 percent. Nonetheless, IATA has set a new global e-AWB penetration target of 56 percent by the end of 2016, citing steady growth in the past 12 months. IATA said the number of airlines, forwarders, and major-airports where e-AWB penetration exceeds 50 percent penetration have doubled.
The importance of making this transition to paperless AWBs easier for forwarders to adopt is essential, IATA said. Growing numbers of airlines are committing to the concept of the single process, meaning air carriers, not forwarders, will be responsible for ensuring that each shipment destination accepts e-AWBs. Airlines are also aligning their standard operating procedures with the airports to which they fly, so that cargo-handling processes are the same across the board, regardless of the airline or the ground handler. Additionally, a growing number of airlines are creating fast lanes for e-AWBs, speeding up the process of freight acceptance and delivery.
In addition to the 56 percent benchmark, IATA plans to facilitate the opening of more trade lanes, implement a simple data capture tool for forwarders and, through a new initiative called “eAWB 360,” synchronize the implementation efforts of airlines. A voluntary program, eAWB 360 already has 17 major airlines signed up.
“The electronic air waybill initiative remains our flagship initiative towards a paperless air cargo industry. It is at the heart of the industry transport process,” IATA said. “If we can digitize it, we will have achieved a key step towards the paperless freight vision.”