e-Freight and Risk-based Supply Chain Security Top Industry Priorities

Doha - The seventh World Cargo Symposium (WCS) concluded in Doha with a renewed commitment to improve air cargo competitiveness across the supply chain. This includes industry consensus on moving e-freight forward and on pursuing a risk-based approach to supply chain security.


A major milestone was reached on e-freight with the approval by the Cargo Services Conference of the Multilateral e-Air Waybill (e-AWB). This removes the need for individual bilateral e-AWB agreements between airlines and freight forwarders and will be a major boost to e-AWB penetration.

“The most important thing that we can do to improve the competitiveness of the air cargo industry is e-freight. It is a top focus for the Global Air Cargo Advisory Group (GACAG) which produced a roadmap to coordinate industry efforts. The IATA Board of Governors recognized the importance of the e-AWB to achieving e-freight and set ambitious targets. At the end of 2012 e-AWB penetration was 6.8%. By the end of 2013 the target is 20%. And the big challenge is to reach 100% by the end of 2015,” said Des Vertannes, IATA’s Global Head of Cargo.

The creation of the multilateral e-AWB means that airlines will have a single agreement with IATA that enables them to accept e-AWBs from all participating freight forwarders. Freight forwarders will have a one-stop shop agreement that will allow them to tender e-AWB shipments to multiple airlines at numerous airports around the globe. The agreement will be filed for government approval shortly, with the aim to go live before June 2013.

“The approval of the Multilateral e-AWB is the most important new cargo standard developed in the last two decades. It gives us critical momentum to achieving the e-freight vision,” said Vertannes.


Industry-government cooperation on security initiatives is vital for the long-term sustainability of air cargo as governments look to ensure the security of the supply chain. WCS saw progress in three key areas:

  • EU Air Cargo or Mail Carrier operating into the Union from a Third Country Airport (ACC3) regulation - the Netherlands and the UK endorsed the training course content for Independent Validators which will be taught at the new IATA Center of Excellence in Geneva. Under this regulation some 700 suppliers in countries deemed “red” or “white” will need to be audited in order to continue shipping goods to the EU. Validating the training course is a critical step to ensure that the industry has the trained personnel to meet the deadline.
  • US Air Cargo Advance Screening (ACAS). Carriers participating in the ACAS pilots not yet transmitting data to the US Customs and Border Protection were urged to do so, and non-participating carriers were again invited to register. Industry engagement is critical to help shape the standards that will be imposed later in 2013.
  • The IATA Cargo Committee agreed to adopt the e-Consignment Security Declaration (e-CSD) wherever it has been adopted by regulatory authorities. They also supported e-CSD pilots in Canada, South Africa and Singapore.

“Our vision is for a risk-based, multi-layered secure supply chain approach. This will be bolstered by electronic data sent well in advance of flights and underpinned by improvements in technology. And we must remember that we are securing a global network that transports some 50 million tonnes of cargo annually. Harmonization and mutual recognition of standards by governments is a critical element in ensuring both effectiveness and efficiency,” said Steve Gunning, Chairman of the IATA Cargo Committee and Managing Director, IAG Cargo.

Other Outcomes

Other outcomes at the Symposium included:

  • IATA Cargo Committee decisions to
    • Work with other agencies to develop a harmonized industry benchmark for measuring carbon emissions from the air cargo supply chain
    • Support progression toward cargo services liberalization, assuming states embrace a level playing field and the principle of fair competition
  • The Symposium supported
    • Cargo agency modernization with the potential introduction in 2014 of an Air Cargo Partner Program that recognizes the changing trading environment between airlines and their customers. This will supplement the existing Cargo Agency Program
    • The extension of the Future Air Cargo Executive Summit (FACES) to target graduate students as the initiative continues its mission to attract, develop and retain new executives in the air cargo field
  • IATA signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Federation of Asia-Pacific Air Cargo Associations (FAPAA) for closer cooperation to promote industry initiatives, including e-freight, Secure Freight and other security solutions, as well as enhance safety awareness for the movement of dangerous goods

“With nearly 1000 delegates, and senior representation from air cargo leaders across the supply chain, the World Cargo Symposium continues to be the forum where air cargo priorities are identified and solutions committed to. I warmly thank the 120 speakers who have contributed to the success of this event, and especially our hosts Qatar Airways for providing superb hospitality throughout the entire event. And I look forward to working with you all in Los Angeles next year,” said Vertannes.

The 2014 World Cargo Symposium will be held 11-13 March in Los Angeles, USA. The host carrier will be American Airlines.

For more information, please contact:
Corporate Communications
Tel: +41 22 770 2967
Email: corpcomms@iata.org

Notes for Editors:

  • IATA (International Air Transport Association) represents some 240 airlines comprising 84% of global air traffic.
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