Air waybills are crucial documents for air cargo logistics as they serve as a contract of carriage between the shipper and the carrier.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has introduced two types of air waybills: neutral air waybill (NAWB) and airline electronic (eAWB).
An NAWB is issued by a neutral party, such as a freight forwarder or consolidator, which acts as an agent for the shipper. The neutral air waybill does not bear the name of a specific airline.
An NAWB is a non-negotiable document used to transport goods from the origin airport to the destination airport. The shipper and consignee details — as well as the nature, quantity and value of the cargo — are mentioned in it. The document is signed by the shipper and the carrier, indicating that the carrier has received the cargo for shipment. An NAWB can be issued on paper or via electronic format.
NAWBs offer advantages over traditional air waybills. For example, they allow for the consolidation of shipments from multiple carriers or airlines, providing more flexibility and control of logistics. They also simplify documentation, as one document can be used for multiple shipments. Additionally, NAWBs can be used to facilitate the transfer of cargo between carriers or airlines, enabling efficiency and potentially reducing costs.
Potential drawbacks to using NAWBs include that they might be less secure than traditional air waybills, as they can be issued by multiple parties and may not be subject to the same security measures. Additionally, they could be subject to additional fees or surcharges if the neutral party issuing the NAWB must cover the costs of handling and processing the shipment.
Electronic air waybills
An electronic air waybill is a paperless document issued and transmitted between the shipper and the airline — a digital version of the traditional air waybill that has been used for decades in the air cargo industry.
An eAWB includes the same information as an NAWB, and is legally recognized and considered equivalent to a paper air waybill.
Potential drawbacks include connectivity issues, as eAWBs require a stable internet connection. There is also a lack of global standardization for electronic e-air waybills, which can lead to compatibility issues between different systems and carriers.
Read more about eAWBs: Setting the standard: Landing at 100% compliance on electronic air waybills