E-freight is an initiative of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to move the air cargo supply chain to an electronic, paperless environment. Currently, air cargo shipments require as many as 30 paper documents. This unnecessarily slows the air cargo process and is an undue strain on resources. In fact, air cargo paperwork is sufficient to fill 80 747 freighters annually. E-freight aims to remedy that situation.
E-freight involves all members of the air cargo supply chain, and has been developed in conjunction with the World Customs Organization and national customs authorities in those countries which have adopted the system. It has already dramatically reduced paperwork requirements, and aims to replace 20 paper documents with electronic messages by 2010. It is being introduced to new governments and members of the air cargo supply chain on a continuous basis.
As detailed in its separate position statement on customs, TIACA strongly supports automation and paper-free transactions and, as such, TIACA endorses e-freight as a viable means for achieving these goals for the air cargo supply chain. E-freight can improve efficiency and transparency within the supply chain, enhancing operations and customer service. It will ultimately lower costs and increase reliability.
TIACA fully appreciates that the transition to e-freight may be difficult for many participants in the air cargo supply chain. We believe e-freight should be phased in through a process that involves consultation with relevant parties and adjustment to legitimate needs and deficiencies. In some instances, pilot projects may be the best way to implement e-freight, as it will allow for testing and adjustment on a smaller scale before widespread application.
We encourage all parties to engage in candid discussions aimed at identifying and resolving issues, and enabling the air cargo supply chain to embrace e-freight and its promise of a paperless, automated air cargo environment – and TIACA stands ready to facilitate discussions among its members and other parties in this regard.