Rac­ing to meet the e-freight tar­get

The pace of im­ple­men­ta­tion of e-AWB has been ex­cep­tional in the year 2014 with many air­line car­ri­ers sign­ing up for the ex­e­cu­tion of the elec­tronic ver­sion of the air­way bill. But, will the In­dian air cargo sec­tor be able to do away with its habit of subm

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As the air cargo sec­tor strives each day to move to­wards elec­tronic freight, an ini­tia­tive that en­com­passes all those in­volved in this sec­tor from freight for­warders to end users (ship­pers), by re­plac­ing the pa­per with doc­u­ments and mes­sages that can be trans­mit­ted elec­tron­i­cally, the need to do away with the re­quire­ment of the pa­per air­way bills gave way to the con­cept of elec­tronic air­way bills (e-AWB) that al­low air­line car­ri­ers, freight for­warders, ground han­dlers and ship­pers to im­ple­ment pa­per­less freight trans­ac­tions from the ori­gin of ship­ment to its fi­nal des­ti­na­tion.

Though the ex­e­cu­tion of the ap­pli­ca­tion of the e-AWB im­plies im­prove­ment in the speed and se­cu­rity of the air freight ship­ments, a lot needs to be done to­wards 100 per cent im­ple­men­ta­tion of e-AWB, thus, fa­cil­i­tat­ing to­tal ef­fi­ciency and ac­cu­racy in the sys­tem.

Adopt­ing e-AWB

The adop­tion of the e-AWB, a doc­u­ment that is con­sid­ered vi­tal to the elim­i­na­tion of nu­mer­ous pa­per doc­u­ments that ac­com­pany ev­ery air freight ship­ment and en­abling con­fi­den­tial­ity of the con­cerned data, is es­sen­tial to mak­ing the ini­tia­tive of e-freight a suc­cess.

Emi­rates SkyCargo, en­abled for both e-freight and e-AWB, is con­sid­ered to be one of the pi­o­neers amongst car­ri­ers lend­ing full support to the ini­tia­tive taken up, in favour of e-AWB, by IATA. Enu­mer­at­ing the rea­sons be­hind the fact that all air­line car­ri­ers have not yet been able to im­ple­ment the con­cept of efreight, Keki Pa­tel, Cargo Man­ager In­dia & Nepal, Emi­rates SkyCargo said, “e-freight and the e-AWB are the fu­ture of the air cargo in­dus­try and make the process much faster by re­duc­ing ex­cess doc­u­men­ta­tions and sim­pli­fy­ing other pro­ce­dures. While e-AWB proves ben­e­fi­cial or the in­dus­try, it re­quires full-hearted support and com­mit­ment from all stake­hold­ers like ship­pers or con­signees, freight for­warders, car­ri­ers, air­port cargo custodians, cus­toms and ground han­dlers.” How­ever

Vi­pan Jain, Re­gional Man­ager – Lo­gis­tics, South Asia & Mid­dle East, Lufthansa Cargo echoes a dif­fer­ent belief. Jain points out can­didly, “eAWB is a part of the e-freight project, where not only air­line car­ri­ers but also other stake­hold­ers are ex­pected to par­tic­i­pate. As far as im­ple­men­ta­tion by all is con­cerned, ev­ery project, par­tic­u­larly of mega size, like this takes time as we need all the play­ers on the same plat­form. Over­all in 2014, the adop­tion of e-AWB has been steadily on the rise, with more in­dus­try par­tic­i­pants adopt­ing it.”

Though the in­tro­duc­tion and im­ple­men­ta­tion of the e-AWB process have en­abled sim­pli­fi­ca­tion in the air freight process of sup­ply chain, a lot needs to be done for all the air­line car­ri­ers to adopt and im­ple­ment the process. All Cathay Pa­cific on­line air­ports in In­dia have suc­cess­fully im­ple­mented the use of e-AWBs, Anand Yed­ery, Re­gional Cargo Man­ager – South Asia, Mid­dle East & Africa, Cathay Pa­cific Air­ways elu­ci­dates, “The in­crease in e-freight val­i­dated air­ports in In­dia is a valid sign. We at Cathay Pa­cific Cargo are con­vinced that e-AWB and e-freight are the most ef­fi­cient pro­ce­dures for the cargo in­dus­try and that is the way for­ward. There­fore, when we be­gan, we pre­pared all our coun­tries in­clud­ing In­dia, to be­gin e-AWB and efreight process first with our for- warder cus­tomers. How­ever there were chal­lenges that we faced as pa­per doc­u­ments were be­ing used to clear ex­port cus­toms which is not re­quired in e-freight en­abled coun­tries.”

The much de­sired ini­tia­tive

An ac­cel­er­ated rate of in­crease in the adop­tion of e-AWB is ex­pected as the var­i­ous par­tic­i­pants in the air cargo sec­tor come for­ward to sign up for the bi­lat­eral e-AWB agree­ment with the car­rier. Pa­tel in this re­gard ex­plained, “e-AWB can start as soon as the cargo agent signs up bi­lat­er­ally the e-AWB / e-freight agree­ment with the car­rier. This is im­por­tant as there is no pa­per AWB and there­fore the con­tract, con­di­tions of con­tract, etc. must be regis­tered with the car- rier; the agree­ment is as­signed a nu­meric code and ap­pears on all ship­ments ten­dered for car­riage.” Stress­ing on what it would take for all those in­volved to come to­gether and im­ple­ment e-freight in full, Pa­tel ex­pressed, “Adopt­ing e-AWB by the in­dus­try would very much de­pend on the ini­tia­tives and the readi­ness of all air cargo stake­hold­ers to im­ple­ment this cost ef­fec­tive and pa­per­less process.”

But de­spite the ben­e­fits that eAWB has to of­fer, the tran­si­tion to com­plete adop­tion of e-AWB would re­quire in­vest­ment of time and this ne­ces­si­tates the un­der­stand­ing of the en­tire sup­ply chain on this project. Yed­ery em­pha­sises, “The In­dian gov­ern­ment and cus­toms are now be­gin­ning to support and pre­pare to adopt full e-freight pa­per free process. Air­lines and for­warders and air­ports are al­ready work­ing closely with IATA to im­ple­ment this project in In­dia. This project can­not be suc­cess­ful if only few air­lines and for­warders par­tic­i­pate. There has to be a crit­i­cal mass to in­flu­ence all coun­tries to adopt the fu­ture e-freight process.”

The mul­ti­lat­eral e-AWB agree­ment was launched by IATA as a widely ap­pre­ci­ated ini­tia­tive to get rid of the pa­per doc­u­ments that follow ev­ery air freight ship­ment. Pa­tel elab­o­rated, “For large na­tional and multi­na­tional for­warders IATA has come up with a sin­gle mul­ti­lat­eral agree­ment once signed, be­tween for­warder and IATA, it is ap­pli­ca­ble to all par­tic­i­pat­ing car­ri­ers and all branches of the agent.”

As the Sin­gle Process ap­proach comes with two ben­e­fits that are cru­cial to the freight for­warders and air­lines, Jain high­lights, “Pur­suant to the IATA-FI­ATA joint com­mu­niqué in 2013, we ap­peal to our cus­tomers to sign the mul­ti­lat­eral e-AWB agree­ment (MeA) as the first

step, which in turn will fa­cil­i­tate their e-AWB trans­mis­sion with­out any bind­ing from their side.”

Ben­galuru In­ter­na­tional Air­port Limited (BIAL), which op­er­ates the Kem­pe­gowda In­ter­na­tional Air­port in Ben­galuru ex­e­cuted the e-freight con­cept, in Novem­ber 2014.

Ma­hen­thi­ran P, Se­nior Vice Pres­i­dent (Ban­ga­lore & Man­ga­lore), AISATS, stressed, “Pi­o­neer­ing and im­ple­ment­ing ad­vanced tech­no­log­i­cal pro­cesses has al­ways been AISATS’ vi­sion and our Ben­galuru fa­cil­ity res­onates and em­braces the same no­tion.”

“The e-freight ini­tia­tive is yet another stride to­wards en­hanc­ing ef­fi­ciency while be­ing en­vi­ron­men­tally con­scious,” Ma­hen­thi­ran added.

Tak­ing the first step

San­jiv Ed­ward, Head of Cargo Business, DIAL in­formed that DIAL has im­ple­mented e-LEO (Elec­tronic Let Ex­port Or­der) con­cept at IGI Air­port wherein elec­tronic mes­sage elim­i­nates the use of pa­per copy of the lo­ca­tion slip. In­tro­duc­tion of eLEO has re­sulted into a sav­ing of ap­prox­i­mately 3600 pa­pers in a day, both Celebi and Cargo Ser­vice Cen­ter have also elim­i­nated the use of AWB copy from the park­ing area, truck dock area and X-ray screen­ing area, a common web-based IT plat­form is pro­vided to air­lines, CHAs, freight for­warders, CTOs at both the cargo ter­mi­nals at IGIA for EDI and IATA mes­sages (FFM/FHL, etc.) in­te­gra­tion has been suc­cess­fully im­ple­mented for par­tic­i­pat­ing air­lines and custodians.

Can In­dia meet the e-freight tar­get?

Ed­ward is quite op­ti­mistic that In­dia will def­i­nitely achieve the ‘efreight’ vi­sion. Shar­ing his views, he stated, “IGI air­port is lead­ing the ini­tia­tive and has al­ready been recog­nised by IATA as the first e-freight com­pli­ant air­port in In­dia. A suc­cess­ful proof of the e-freight con­cept for EDI was done by the DIAL team on ground for 100 per cent elec­tronic op­er­a­tions for both ex­port and im­port.”

Ed­ward added, “The en­tire doc­u­ment pro­cess­ing for in­ter­na­tional cargo at IGI air­port is be­ing done on EDI mode only. We are sure that other air­ports in In­dia will follow DIAL and also pick up sim­i­lar ca­pa­bil­ity to bring In­dia on the e-freight map.”

Vi­pan Jain Re­gional Man­ager – Lo­gis­tics, South Asia & Mid­dle East, Lufthansa Cargo

Anand Yed­ery Re­gional Cargo Man­ager – South Asia, Mid­dleEast & Africa, Cathay Pa­cific Air­ways

Keki Pa­tel Cargo Man­ager In­dia & Nepal Emi­rates SkyCargo

San­jiv Ed­ward Head of Cargo Business Delhi In­ter­na­tional Air­port Limited

Ma­hen­thi­ran P Se­nior Vice Pres­i­dent (Ban­ga­lore & Man­ga­lore), AISATS

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