The International Air Transport Association (IATA) hopes to eliminate all paperwork from all air freight operations by 2015, in a programme called e-freight. The programme is not just an IATA programme – it involves and is supported by all the major associations involved in the global air freight industry.
“The e-freight programme is to take paper out of the cargo supply chain,” said IATA Senior Vice President: Industry Distribution & Financial Services Aleksander Popovich in Johannesburg on Thursday. “We are trying to get as many countries as possible to qualify for e-freight. This is a global supply chain initiative.”
Some 45 countries are now implementing the e-freight system, and between them these countries account for 75% to 80% of global air freight. IATA’s target for 2011 was that 10% of all the air freight of these countries would use the e-freight system. This target was achieved.
One of the most important pieces of paper involved in air freight is the waybill. The waybill is a significant document which contains details and instructions regarding the shipment of goods. “For 2012, we have set a target for 15% of air waybills to be e-waybills,” stated Popovich. “Currently, it is just under 5%.”
The important thing about waybills is that they are documents that are passed between freight forwarders and airlines – they do not involve, and are of no interest to, customs agencies or any other government departments. Thus the adoption of e-waybills is entirely the concern of the freight forwarders and carriers.
“It is a matter of leadership in forwarders and carriers,” he asserted. “Cathy Pacific achieved 100% e-waybills out of Hong Kong in a matter of months.” The aim is to reach 100% use of e-waybills by 2014.
“IATA does not set the rules,” clarified Popovich. “The airlines set the rules with the agents, both for passengers and cargo. IATA follows the rules.”