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Fact Sheet: e-freight and e-Air Waybill (e-AWB)


e-freight is an industry-wide program that aims to build a paperless, end-to-end transportation process for air cargo.

e-freight includes three pillars:

  • Creating, through advocacy efforts, a network of locations and airports where it is possible to remove paper from the transportation of air cargo from a legal environment and e-Customs procedure standpoint
  • Digitizing and removing the key air cargo transportation documents used today, starting with the Air Waybill (AWB), the key transportation document in air cargo. The electronic Air Waybill (e-AWB) replaces the paper AWB with an electronic contract of carriage.
  • Digitizing the accompanying documents transported with air cargo shipments (removal of the air cargo ‘document pouches’)


The ultimate objective is to migrate towards a fully paperless process. This objective will be achieved in stages.  

  • The 2014 target was for 22% e-AWB penetration on valid trade lanes
  • Targets for 2015 and 2016 are 45% and 80% e-AWB uptake
  • Targets for further document removal will be developed with partners in the supply chain through the Global Air Cargo Advisory Group (GACAG), whose members are IATA, The International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations (FIATA), the International Air Cargo Association (TIACA) and the Global Shippers’ Forum (GSF)

Key focus for 2015

  • Expansion of e-AWB network: Enable e-AWB at key airports in China and India. In October 2014, Shanghai was declared officially open for e-AWB on import and export, a major development that will accelerate global e-AWB penetration.
  • Modernization of Cargo Messaging Capabilities: Implementation by air cargo supply chain of the latest message versions and migration towards the new Cargo-XML message standard.
  • Process modernization, including adoption of ‘Single Process’: Modernization of business process through implementation of paperless cargo acceptance procedures by airlines.
  • Industry collaboration at airport level: industry collaboration is required to harmonize e-AWB processes locally and increase value to all players


  • Implementation of e-freight can bring operational efficiency of between 19% and 48% for export/import/transit processes for an airline, and between 8% and 44% for forwarders, according to case studies. In addition, increase in trade and growth of air cargo is expected to be generated from the improved service and visibility delivered to shippers.
  • Speed: targeting reduction in average end-to-end transfer time by 24 hours 
  • Accuracy and quality: electronic documents eliminate manual entry errors 
  • Regulatory compliance: facilitates compliance to international and local regulations
  • Sustainability: e-freight will eliminate more than 7,800 tons of paper documents annually, the equivalent of 80 Boeing 747 freighters filled with paper


  • e-AWB penetration on feasible lanes: 20.7% in October 2014
  • The current e-AWB network covers over 85% of worldwide trade (the e-AWB network corresponds to locations where the legal framework has been created to allow an electronic contract of carriage)
  • The Multilateral e-AWB Agreement (MeA) has been signed by 79 airlines and 1,660 forwarders as of November 2014.  
  • Local e-AWB working groups have been established to accelerate e-AWB adoptions at key airports around the world
  • Shanghai Pudong airport, the largest location (by AWB volume) not fully e-AWB capable until now, is now fully open to e-AWB on import and export, for all airlines


December 2014


Additional information

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