SriLankan Airlines cargo arm, SriLankan Cargo signed e-AWB (air waybills) agreements with four of its top customers, September 10.
At a time when the industry is increasingly adopting sustainable and cost-effective practices to enhance operational efficiency, International Air Transport Association (IATA) views this as the first step towards a paper-free air cargo, involving fewer stakeholders.
The air waybill is the most important transportation document in the cargo operations, which contains the details of the shipper, consignee, airport of origin/destination, number of pieces, weight and the nature of goods.
Currently, the cargo industry relies heavily on paper documentation, which results in increasing freight costs and lengthening processing and transportation time. A freight shipment requires over 30 different paper documents and the paper air way-billing system requires that each shipment carries one such document whereas under the E-AWB system, an electronic contract between SriLankan Cargo and the freight forwarding customer replaces paper documentation.
The new system allows the airlines and freight forwarders to sign a single standard agreement once with IATA to enter into e-AWB agreements with all parties, without having to sign numerous bilateral agreements.
Initiated by the IATA, as a progressive solution, E-AWB avoids repeating data keying and reduces cargo delays due to missing or illegible paper AWBs. It also allows one to detect errors prior to the submission of physical freight, access Real Time AWB information and track status of the shipments.
Absence of paper usage eliminates the cost of purchasing and printing of paper, space for storage and archiving and noticeably reduces the waiting time for processing papers. In terms of data safety, E-AWB has been proven the more reliable option as the automated system facilitates error detection and cuts down the risk of losing documents.