Geneva - The International Air Transport Association (IATA) working with seven key cargo airlines - Air Canada, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, KLM, Martinair, SAS and Singapore Airlines - freight forwarders (DHL Global Forwarding, Panalpina, Kuehne+Nagel, Schenker, TMI Group-Roadair, Jetspeed) and ground handling agents kick-started the move to a paper-free air cargo environment with the launch of six e-freight pilot projects. Starting today, cargo on key trade routes connecting Canada, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Singapore, Sweden and the U.K will be processed electronically.

“The paper-free era for air freight begins today,” said Giovanni Bisignani, Director General & CEO of IATA. “This first wave of pilots will pave the way for a global rollout of e-freight that will eliminate the paper that costs this industry $1.2 billion every year. Combined, these documents could fill 39 B747 cargo freighters each year making e-freight—a win for the business and for the environment.”

“E-freight is a revolution for an industry that is absolutely critical to modern life. For airlines it is a US$55 billion business that generates 12% of their revenues. More broadly air cargo transports 35% of the total value of goods traded across borders. The potential impact of greater efficiency in air cargo has very broad implications across the global economy,” said Bisignani.
E-freight pilots will systematically test for the first time common standards, processes, procedures and systems designed to replace paper documents that typically accompany air freight with electronic information. During the initial phase, selected shipments will travel without a number of key documents that make up the majority of the paperwork, including the house and master air waybills. Results from the pilots will be used to expand e-freight to other territories.

IATA e-freight requires that business, technical and legal frameworks are in place to allow airlines, freight forwarders, customs administrations and governments to seamlessly exchange electronic information and e-documents. The six pilot locations were selected based on their ability to meet these criteria along with offering network connectivity and sufficient cargo volumes.

At each location cargo experts from participating airlines, freight forwarders, ground handling agents, local customs administrations and airport authorities worked together closely over the past 10 months to prepare the pilots.
“High oil prices and cumbersome processing requirements are handicapping air transport’s competitiveness with sea shipping,” said Bisignani. “Sea shipping is expected to grow at 6% annually over the next five years, compared to 4.8% for air cargo. E-freight makes a four-decade leap, bringing strengthened competitiveness by cutting costs and improving transparency and consistency throughout the supply chain. This good news for the customer will help shore-up air transport’s competitiveness with sea shipping and other modes of transport.”

E-freight is one of five Simplifying the Business projects being led by IATA to improve service and cut costs. The industry has set a deadline of the end of 2010 for the implementation of e-freight wherever feasible.

Editors Notes:

  • IATA has over 240 members that comprise 94% of international traffic.
  • Other Simplifying the Business projects include 100% electronic ticketing by end 2007, the use of bar coded boarding passes, common use self service check-in and RFID for baggage management.
  • One of the key pillars of the IATA e-freight programme is Cargo 2000 – the air cargo industry’s quality champion.

Pilot participants include:

Airlines Freight Forwarders Ground Handling Agents
Air Canada DHL Global Forwarding (DGF) AAT
British Airways Panalpina Aero Groundservices / Aviapartner
Cathay Pacific Kuehne+Nagel Air General
KLM Schenker CIAS
Martinair TMI Group-Roadair HACTL
Singapore Airlines Jetspeed Menzies World Cargo
Scandinavian Airlines SAS   Plane Handling

Organisations actively involved in supporting and steering the pilots locally include:

Customs and other government administrations Industry Associations
Canadian Customs (CBSA-ASFC) Air Cargo Netherlands (ACN)
Civil Aviation Authority Singapore (CAAS) British International Freight Association (BIFA)
Dutch Customs Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association (CIFFA)
HM Revenue & Customs, U.K. Canadian Society of Customs Brokers
Hong-Kong Customs Hong-Kong Association of Freight Forwarding and Logistics (HAFFA)
Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA), Singapore Singapore Aircargo Agents
Swedish Customs  
Swedish Enterprise Ministry  
Swedish Transportindustri Forbundet (Flyg)  
Transport Canada  
Singapore Customs  

Trade lanes on which selected e-freight shipments will be flown include:

  • From Canada to Hong-Kong, the Netherlands, the U.K.
  • From Hong-Kong to Canada, the Netherlands, Singapore, Sweden and the U.K.
  • From the Netherlands to Canada, Hong-Kong and Singapore
  • From Singapore to Hong-Kong, the Netherlands, and the U.K.
  • From Sweden to Hong-Kong
  • From the U.K. to Canada, Hong-Kong, and Singapore