GACAG outlines joint vision for e-freight at e-Cargo conference
Last month, the e-Cargo Conference provided a unique opportunity to review the progress made by the Global Air Cargo Advisory Group (GACAG), in aligning the air cargo supply chain around the common goal of building a paperless industry..
Implementing an end-to-end paperless transportation process for air cargo is one of the top priorities of the GACAG, which comprises four global industry associations – IATA, FIATA, TIACA, and the Global Shipper’s Forum, - and e-freight is the key initiative to achieve this.
Common vision for e-freight
Steve Smith, Vice President at DHL Global Forwarding, and Chairman of the GACAG e-Commerce Task Force (ECTF), explained that the GACAG has now defined a common vision for e-freight, shared by all four associations. The task force has structured the e-freight project around the following three key pillars:
- Building the e-freight route network by engaging regulators and customs administrations
- Digitizing the core industry transport documents, with a key initial focus on the electronic air way bill (e-AWB)
- Digitizing the core freight accompanying documents
The group is now focused on aligning timelines, simplifying communication, and defining specific roles for each GACAG member in driving the initiative. "There is still work that remains to be done" explained Steve Smith "but we have already made significant progress towards a fully aligned approach to e-freight within the GACAG. Our goal is to ensure this is driven as an industry-wide program, taking into consideration the interests of all parties, and we are well on our way to achieve this. One example is the common view that a multilateral EDI agreement is necessary to achieve e-AWB success. Such an agreement is now being developed jointly by IATA and FIATA and we expect it will greatly facilitate e-AWB adoption."
Entire supply chain engaged in the initiative
Other task force members highlighted the importance of taking an end-to-end supply chain process to e-freight. Sue Presti, Senior Director at The International Air Cargo Association (TIACA) stated that "Shippers need to take a key leadership role in e-freight" adding that “through the GACAG, the Global Shippers Forum is now fully engaged in the initiative and this gives us the opportunity to further involve shippers."
Finally, data quality was identified by GACAG as a key prerequisite to digitizing the key industry documents. "The information is out there: what we need is the right formats and facilitating technology to get it right" said Markus Witte, Head of Technology and Innovation at Lufthansa Cargo. "We need to accelerate data exchange and we also need to ensure technology solutions exist for all parties, including small and medium enterprises."
Des Vertannes, Global Head of Cargo at IATA, expressed satisfaction for the new spirit of collaboration. "Only by working collaboratively as an industry and with authorities and regulators will we succeed in this journey of industry transformation. We will continue to work with our GACAG partners to ensure we make this a success for all involved," concluded Des Vertannes.