The International Air Transport Association and International Federation of Freight Forwarders (FIATA) have approved the standard for the multilateral electronic air waybill, making bilateral agreements between airlines and freight forwarders unnecessary.
Airlines and forwarders can now enter into a single agreement with their respective agencies that permits acceptance of e-air waybills from the other party.
Trials for the multilateral standard began in October, and the new agreement was endorsed by IATA and FIATA members in February. The new standard, IATA Resolution 672, was adopted this month.
IATA's cargo head, Des Vertannes, said this agreement gives momentum to the goal of creating a paperless cargo infrastructure. He also called it the most significant cargo standard passed in the last 20 years. Rudi Sagel of FIATA agreed with Vertannes' assessment.
“Freight forwarders and airlines were looking forward to greater simplification when they looked at the e-AWB agreement; now this new multilateral e-AWB agreement allows forwarders to sign only once to connect to all signatory airlines," Sagel said in a statement. "It means significant progress as joining the multilateral e-AWB agreement provides the legal framework to transmit AWB data electronically to the carrier for AWB completion.” - Jon Ross