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Revised e-AWB model agreement adopted by Cargo Services Conference

The e-AWB (electronic Air Waybill) model agreement, CSC Recommended Practice 1670, has been enhanced to enable airlines, shippers and freight forwarders to experience the full benefits of a paperless environment.
Working collaboratively, IATA and FIATA successfully developed a “model agreement for electronic data interchange (EDI)” as a substitute for the traditional paper air waybill. The first version of the covering Recommended Practice 1670 (RP1670) was adopted by the Cargo Service Conference in October 2009.
The e-AWB agreements signed during the following year were analyzed to identify amendments that would be beneficial to both airlines and freight forwarders.

The package of changes were discussed and endorsed by the key industry working groups (including the e-AWB Advisory Group) and also by FIATA through the IATA/FIATA Consultative Council (IFCC). They were subsequently adopted by the Cargo Services Conference on 5 June 2012.

Main changes included in the revised RP 1670:

1. Replace the term “shipper” with “freight forwarder” in the EDI Agreement.

While parties are free to leave the term “shipper” as the contracting party, the Conference felt that it would be more accurate to include the term “freight forwarder” in the Recommended Practice as the contracting party since in most cases, the entity capable of sending and receiving “EDI” messages will be a freight forwarder.

2. Single EDI process for freight forwarder irrespective of the route.

The original version of the EDI Agreement was designed strictly for non-Warsaw routes (except Warsaw as amended by Montreal Protocol 4).  Under trade routes governed by the Warsaw Convention (where the origin and destination countries have signed the Warsaw Convention) the airline must issue a paper air waybill, and the paper air waybill must accompany the cargo.  This limitation obligated the freight forwarders to undertake the cumbersome process of first determining which international convention governed the particular route on which the cargo would travel and then sending either an EDI message or completing a paper air waybill. 

The enhanced RP1670 allows the freight forwarder to rely on just one process (sending an EDI Message) transferring the decision of determining which Convention governs the route to the airline.  If the cargo will fly on a Warsaw route, then the airline will receive the EDI message, and with the information on the EDI Message generate a paper air waybill and sign such paper air waybill on behalf of the shipper.  The new feature is optional and stakeholders can decide whether they want to include it or not in the signed agreement.

3. Enable freight forwarder to conclude cargo contracts on behalf of its shipper clients.

Instead of having the freight forwarders shipper client signing an EDI agreement directly with the carrier, the revised RP1670 includes the provision to enable the freight forwarder to send EDI messages on behalf of its client.

Through the new EDI agreement, the freight forwarder will be able to:

  • Confirm that it has the authority to enter into a contract for the shipment of cargo on behalf of its client
  • Agree to the carrier's conditions of contract on behalf of its client
  • Provide consent to use electronic means in lieu of a paper air waybill on behalf of its client 

The revised RP1670 has been filed with government authorities and will be declared effective by IATA upon receipt of the required approvals. 

More on e-AWB.

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