UK Forwarders object to New Air Cargo Surcharge

September 7, 2014 — Leave a comment

awb_welcomeIt is becoming more and more evident that every ‘automation’ project entails ‘more costs’. The benefits appear to lie in the ‘comfort’ of doing stuff at your keyboard. Much vaunted ‘cost-savings’ are a myth as technology encroaches every facet of global trading. The following is a fine example.

The trade association for UK freight forwarders and logistics service providers is encouraging its members to object to a Paper Air Waybill (AWB) Surcharge that airlines are planning for export AWBs that are not filed electronically. Robert Keen, director general of the British International Freight Association (Bifa), commented: “Bifa supports e-Commerce and e-Air Waybill implementation in the air cargo supply chain. However, we believe that implementation should create value for forwarders and airlines alike, and airlines need to recognise the costs that the originator of the information incurs to enter and transmit data.”

Keen continued: “Through our international body Fiata, Bifa will be voicing our objection to carriers that seek to apply yet another surcharge, and create yet another revenue stream, under the guise of supporting IATA’s – the airline industry body’s – e-Freight initiative, which aims to implement e-Freight worldwide.” Bifa is asking its members to join in the stand against the introduction of this surcharge by completing an online survey, which can be found here: http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/1782849/Paper-AWB-Surcharge-Survey

The air freight sector missed IATA’s target last year of achieving 20% e-air waybill penetration “on feasible lanes”, achieving just 12%. The target for 2014 has been revised downwards to 22%, with a target for 45% e-AWB penetration by the end of 2015 and 80% by the end of 2016. IATA expects to see an acceleration of penetration levels this year, in part because of the introduction last year of the e-AWB Multilateral Agreement, to which around 70 airlines and more than 100 freight forwarders have now signed up.

But while there is increasing momentum among airlines and air cargo handlers, many forwarders remain unconvinced of the benefits. Chuck Zhao, process engineer project manager at US air cargo handler Consolidated Aviation Services (CAS), observes that only around 6% shipments out of the US are e-freight, largely because “those who cut the paper air waybills simply do not see the benefits of going paperless”.

Michael White, assistant director of cargo facilitation, security and standards for US air freight association Cargo Network Services (CNS) and regional manager of cargo for IATA, observed that there was a need for effective communication routes for the forwarders, especially small and medium-sized ones, to transmit their FWB & FHL messages – preferably a community system rather than via multiple airline portals. He said there was currently no community system in the US, but there were signs that companies are looking at that capability. Source: Lloydsloadinglist.com

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