In today’s fast-paced world, time is of the essence.
Transportation and logistics companies need to move goods quickly, efficiently and safely. In the world of air cargo, the e-air waybill makes that possible.
The digital version of the traditional air waybill — also known as an airway consignment note or dispatch note, e-air waybill or eAWB — is a document used in air cargo transactions that enables electronic data interchange (EDI) between parties, including shippers, airlines and freight forwarders.
Electronic air waybills increase transparency throughout the supply chain. All parties involved in a shipment have access to real-time tracking updates through automated systems that track shipments from start to finish. This means that cargo owners and logistics providers can easily monitor their shipments’ progress and take action if necessary.
The eAWB allows for the electronic exchange of information between parties involved in the shipment of goods, including shippers, consignees, airlines and freight forwarders. This technology has significantly streamlined the air cargo industry, reducing paper usage, improving efficiency, and increasing data accuracy and security.
Digitalizing air cargo documentation
The history of the eAWB dates to the early 2000s, when the International Air Transport Association (IATA) began exploring ways to digitalize the air cargo documentation process.
In 2010, IATA launched its e-Freight initiative, which aimed to digitalize the entire air cargo supply chain. As part of this initiative, IATA developed the eAWB standard, designed to replace the paper air waybill with an electronic version.
By 2014, it had been adopted by more than 50 airlines worldwide.
In 2016, IATA set a target for the air cargo industry to achieve 50% eAWB penetration by the end of the year. This target was met, and by 2020 eAWB penetration had reached 68.8%.
Adoption of eAWB has continued to accelerate, with the pandemic driving further digitalization of the industry. E-air waybills have become a critical tool for ensuring the smooth flow of essential goods and medical supplies during the pandemic.
As of November 2022, IATA reported that more than 85% of the air cargo transport industry was using eAWB tracking.
IATA has set a goal of achieving 100% eAWB adoption by 2025.
E-air waybill tracking systems
When it comes to tracking e-air waybills, there are different types of systems available. The type selected depends on the level of detail required by the user.
Basic e-air waybill tracking allows users to track their shipment from origin to destination, offering information about when the package was shipped, where it is located, and the estimated delivery date.
Advanced eAWB tracking provides more detailed information on a shipment’s status, including real-time updates on location and expected arrival time. Advanced tracking may also include alerts for delays or changes in route.
For those requiring even greater visibility into their shipments, custom e-air waybill tracking solutions can be tailored to specific needs. These solutions may include features such as temperature monitoring or security measures.