Part of StB Cargo, e-freight is an industry-wide initiative involving carriers, freight forwarders, ground handlers, shippers, customs brokers and customs authorities. E-freight aims to build an end-to-end paperless transportation process for air cargo through a regulatory framework, electronic messages and high data quality.

The e-freight roadmap outlines a shared end-to-end industry approach to remove three types of documents:

  • Customs documents, engaging regulators and governments worldwide to create an "e-freight route network" where customs procedures are fully electronic and regulations support paperless shipments.
  • Transport documents, working collaboratively within the cargo supply chain to digitize the core industry transport documents, starting with the Air Waybill (AWB).
  • Commercial & special cargo documents, developing a plan to digitize the commercial and special cargo documents typically accompanying air freight today, in or out of the "cargo pouch".

The Air Waybill (AWB) is a critical air cargo document that constitutes the contract of carriage between the “shipper” and the “carrier” (airline). The Electronic Air Waybill Resolution 672 (MeA) removes the requirement for a paper AWB. There is therefore no longer a need to print, handle or archive the paper, largely simplifying the air cargo process.

e-AWB is now the default contract of carriage

Nine years after its introduction in 2010, e-AWB became the default contract of carriage for all air cargo shipments on enabled trade lanes on 1 January 2019. This key industry milestone brings air cargo into a new era where digital processes are now the norm and paper is the exception.

Interested in starting your e-AWB roll out?

e-AWB performance and results

Modernizing air cargo communication

The IATA Cargo-XML messaging is emerging as a preferred standard for the electronic communication between airlines and other air cargo stakeholders such as shippers, freight forwarders, ground-handling agents, and regulators, as well as customs and security agencies. This new standard is based on multimodal and cross-border messaging and aims to:

The white paper Air Cargo Digital Connectivity & Data Exchange Methodologies (pdf) provides a guide for the air cargo industry towards efficiently connecting and exchanging digital information across the supply chain.

The preferred messaging standard

Industry’s call on Cargo Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) was to freeze Cargo-IMP messages by end of 2014 and encourage the use of Cargo-XML messages. Cargo-IMP messages can still be used in the industry but IATA stopped enhancing this standard. This implies that:

Cargo-IMP to Cargo-XML migration

Read more about the differences between Cargo-IMP and Cargo-XML Messages (pdf).

Cargo Messaging Working Group

The IATA Cargo Messaging Working Group (formerly known as the Cargo-XML Task Force) develops the Cargo-XML messages and standards by reusing the components from the United Nations Center for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business core component library. The Cargo-XML Manual and Toolkit publishes the Cargo-XML messages, in accordance with the Cargo Services Conference (CSC) Resolution 670 and Recommended Practice 1675.

Towards 100% data quality

The Message Improvement Program (MIP) started in 2007 as part of an e-freight initiative to track the performance of EDI messaging between freight forwarders and airlines. This program is opt-in based and free-of-charge, currently open to airlines and freight forwarders only.

Today, there are over 70 participants, of which some of the leading airlines and forwarders worldwide. MIP processes about 2 million records of data every month from airlines only, producing over 1000 different confidential reports for its participants, as well as an industry reports of which the monthly e-freight and e-AWB reports.


The current scope is to measure the performance of the electronic message equivalents to the Air Waybills and House Waybills (respectively the FWB and FHL for Cargo-IMP, and XFWB and XFHL/XFZB for Cargo-XML), where the following are being measured:

  1. Message penetration
  2. Message rejections
  3. Message duplications
  4. Syntax errors
  5. Business data quality/errors on every single field of data (200+)
  6. Process errors

MIP 2.0

To support the broader adoption of e-cargo and IATA’s new ONE Record initiative, IATA is working on an extended version of MIP that will:

  • Open up to ground handlers, Cargo Community Systems (CCS), solutions providers and other stakeholders.
  • Cover additional critical electronic messages like status, error and feedback messages.
  • Collect more details on shipment data to further increase MIP’s value.
  • Collect shipment data from all participants, allowing data congruence analysis and troubleshooting between peers.
  • Provide new, revamped reports and intelligence focusing on today’s and tomorrow’s critical metrics.
  • Allow self-service reporting.

How to join?

To join MIP, write to with your company name and contact details.