Executive Briefings

Why Is Air Cargo World Taking So Long to Adopt Electronic Air Waybills Across the Industry

The global usage of electronic air waybills (e-AWBs) stood, at the end of February, at 26.9 percent, up 2 percent from January. And IATA is confident that the industry can reach its 2015 target of 45 percent by the end of this year.

This may seem like major progress, but, in reality, the goal posts have been moved several times on this glacially paced issue. "The most important cargo event of the year" in 2005 was IATA's e-freight conference, dedicated to implementing "simpler, electronic, paper-free air cargo shipping worldwide by 2010." Then, it was changed to "100 percent e-AWBs" by the end of 2014. The latest-dated target now is 80 percent e-AWB penetration by the end of 2016 – a more realistic, if disappointing, aim.

Most supply chain service providers agree that paperwork is a hassle, especially with time-sensitive shipments on the line. The e-AWB, which can keep closer tabs on each shipment, increase productivity and eliminate costs of producing up to 40 separate paper documents for every transaction, seems like it would be a slam-dunk proposition. So why is it taking so long to adopt e-AWBs industrywide?

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This may seem like major progress, but, in reality, the goal posts have been moved several times on this glacially paced issue. "The most important cargo event of the year" in 2005 was IATA's e-freight conference, dedicated to implementing "simpler, electronic, paper-free air cargo shipping worldwide by 2010." Then, it was changed to "100 percent e-AWBs" by the end of 2014. The latest-dated target now is 80 percent e-AWB penetration by the end of 2016 – a more realistic, if disappointing, aim.

Most supply chain service providers agree that paperwork is a hassle, especially with time-sensitive shipments on the line. The e-AWB, which can keep closer tabs on each shipment, increase productivity and eliminate costs of producing up to 40 separate paper documents for every transaction, seems like it would be a slam-dunk proposition. So why is it taking so long to adopt e-AWBs industrywide?

Read Full Article