Swiss WorldCargo has signed up as the first member of the International Air Transport Association's multilateral e-air waybill agreement, an initiative that promotes using a multilateral agreement where several bilateral EDI agreements between forwarders and carriers once stood.
This new approach to the e-air waybill is still in the trial stages, but the initiative is expected to be adopted by IATA members by the middle of next year.
To participate, forwarders sign up with IATA and, by extension, all the carriers that have enrolled in the organization's multilateral agreement. Pushing forward the use of electronic air waybills has been a key goal of IATA and the multi-party Global Air Cargo Advisory Group, which includes representatives from IATA, the Global Shippers' Forum, The International Air Cargo Association and International Federation of Freight Forwarders Association. While IATA has been pushing for the use of e-documents in the air cargo supply chain for more than a decade, it recently decided to focus on one aspect at a time, choosing to target the digitizing of the air waybill in 2012.
“The new agreement will allow forwarders and airlines to get away from the painstaking and slow process of company-to-company and location-to-location agreements which have slowed the adoption of e-commerce until now,” Swiss WorldCargo's Christine Barden stated. “The ultimate benefit will be the increase of the volume of e-air waybill shipments, with a consequent increase in productivity, reliability of information and customer service.” - Jon Ross