UK Forwarders object to New Air Cargo Surcharge

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

Latest US container 100% scanning postponement predictable

Rapiscan_m60UK freight forwarders have welcomed but are not surprised by the latest US postponement by two years of the implementation of new rules requiring all cargo containers entering the US to be security scanned prior to departure from overseas ports, with national association BIFA reiterating calls for the initiative to be abandoned.

Peter Quantrill, Director General of the British International Freight Association (BIFA), said it was “hardly surprising” to hear the recent news that the US had delayed the introduction of the new rules “amid questions over whether this is the best way to protect US ports”, calling the move “a healthy dose of common sense”.

Mr Quantrill commented: “As BIFA has said repeatedly, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has consistently underestimated the enormity of the task in hand relative to the costs both to the US government and foreign governments – as well as, importantly, the limited ability of contemporary screening technology to penetrate dense cargo, or large quantities of cargo in shipping containers.”

The deadline for implementation of 100% scanning of all inbound containers has already been delayed from 2012 to 1 July, 2014, and US Secretary for Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, who took over the role just six months ago, has now reportedly decided on another 24-month postponement.

BIFA’s comments follow the recent news of a letter from Thomas Carper, chairman of the US Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, which suggested that the use of systems available to scan containers would have a negative impact on trade capacity and the flow of cargo.

Quantrill adds: “Media reports suggest that the US Government now doubts whether it would be able to implement the mandate of 100% scanning, even in the long term, and it would appear that it now shares BIFA’s long-standing opinion that it is not the best use of taxpayer resources to meet the USA’s port security and homeland security needs.

“We have always said that expanding screening with available technology would slow the flow of commerce and drive up costs to consumers without bringing significant security benefits.”

He continued: “Whilst the latest news of a two-year delay appears to be a healthy dose of common sense at the US Department of Homeland Security, BIFA still believes that the US Government ought to take an even bolder step and repeal the original legislation.

“That would be the most appropriate way to address this flawed provision and allow the Department and the industry to continue to focus on real solutions, including strengthened risk-based management systems to address any security gaps that remain in global supply chains.”  Source: Lloyds Loading List