Geneva – The International Air Transport Association (IATA) called for strong partnerships to promote air cargo competitiveness through e-commerce technology at the IATA e-Cargo conference held in Geneva 18-19 June.

“An electronic revolution is transforming logistics and transport, creating a fundamental change in the security, safety, efficiency and reliability of air freight. This conference has undoubtedly put e-cargo at the forefront of industry thinking. Now we need to drive action through strong partnerships across issues such as e-customs, advanced electronic information, the digitization of transport documents, e-cargo security, and e-Air Waybill (e-AWB) implementation. In that regard the presence of FIATA’s Director General Marco Sorgetti to chair the opening plenary was most welcome. Air cargo demand has been stagnant for several years and the cooperation of the entire air cargo value chain to push forward key objectives such as e-freight is essential for the future health of this industry,” said Des Vertannes, IATA’s Global Head of Cargo.

Total annual freight tonnes carried have grown by just 1.4 million tonnes since 2010, and IATA’s forecast for the air transport industry estimates cargo growth of only 1.5% in 2013. Yields are expected to fall 2.0% and total cargo revenues will be $62 billion – $4 billion down on 2010.

“Air cargo remains in a tough trading environment as load factors fall and costs, especially fuel, stay high. So it is vital that the industry work together to facilitate the introduction of new processes and technology such as e-cargo, in order to improve competitiveness and boost demand,” said Vertannes.

The centerpiece of IATA’s e-cargo program is the e-freight initiative. E-freight offers the opportunity to improve shipment times by up to 24 hours, and remove 7,800 tonnes of paper documents annually. The efficiency and reliability of shipments will increase as multiple data entry is removed. And regulatory authorities seeking greater security oversight of air freight will also benefit from swifter and more accurate access to electronic information on shipments.

The key enabler of e-freight is the e-AWB. E-AWB penetration stands at 9% against IATA’s year-end target of 20%. In March IATA and FIATA announced the multilateral e-AWB which enables freight forwarders and airlines to sign a single e-AWB agreement, leading to e-AWB shipments across multiple routes and providers. This is expected to greatly accelerate e-AWB uptake in the second half of 2013.

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Notes for Editors:

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