Tuesday, September 21, 2021
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IATA e-AWB Readiness Checklist

Last Dec 3, I wrote about the International Air Transport Association (IATA) announcement which makes the electronic Air Waybill (e-AWB) the default contract of carriage for air cargo shipments on enabled trade lanes starting Jan 1, 2019.


In order to assess readiness for this ruling, here are questions PH airfreight forwarders/agents may want to answer:


  • Have you attended e-AWB orientation training or seminar on IATA e-AWB during the past 60 days?
  • Is your company a signatory to IATA Multilateral e-AWB agreement?  Is your foreign-based head office a signatory?
  • Do you have the capability to send electronic master and house airwaybill messages (FWB and FHL)?
  • Have you received IATA eAWB advisory from airlines that you transact with for outbound export shipments?
  • Have you received an e-AWB Activation Notice from your airline or GSA?
  • Have you received instructions from your airlines to use the codes “EAP” or “EAW” when making electronic bookings for your e-AWB shipments?
  • Do you have confirmation that the ground handling agent or airline will issue CARGO RECEIPT after acceptance of outbound cargo (this will evidence the conclusion of the contract of carriage and acceptance of cargo as Ready for Carriage); is there a need to print this?


Our advise to readers of this column: It is important to consult your airlines and business partners to achieve mutual understanding on your readiness for “e-AWB as default contract of carriage”.


Excerpts from additional FAQs published on the IATA website (https://www.iata.org/whatwedo/cargo/e/eawb/Documents/eAWB-default-faq.pdf ):


Will e-AWB become mandatory from 1 January 2019?


No, it means that from 2019 the normal practice should be e-AWB. Paper documents are still usable, but should be considered nonstandard.


The decision taken by the Cargo Services Conference is a very important step: it recognizes that “e-AWB” reflects the majority of shipments on enabled trade lanes. The old IATA rules stated that paper AWBs was required and electronic was optional (i.e. subject to agreement by the business partners).


From 1 Jan 2019, the rules will dictate that electronic AWBs are the standard method on enabled trade lanes and that paper AWBs are optional (i.e. subject to agreement by the business partners).


Will the Multilateral Agreement (MeA) be required from 1 Jan 2019?


Yes, the MeA (or at least a bilateral agreement) will be necessary. We need an agreement process to comply with the international conventions requiring to have the consent of the shipper, among other reasons.


Under what circumstances will the paper AWB be preferred over e-AWB?


Paper AWB may still be required due to applicable international treaties, national law, or as bilaterally agreed between the parties.


What will happen with those enabled trade lanes where customs administrations still require the submission of a paper AWB?


Airline members are strongly recommended to comply with any authorities’ requirements. Therefore, they should be able to provide a paper AWB to any authority that asks for it.


(ITinerary Important Note:  PH Customs still has no policy to accept A4 printout of e-AWB.  This is a challenge for Philippine airfreight industry stakeholders during 2019).


What are “enabled trade lanes”, and what proportion of cargo is now shipped on enabled trade lanes?


Around 70% of the total shipments by air are transported on feasible/enabled trade lane. A “feasible/enabled trade lane” is defined as such when the country of origin and the country of destination ratified the same treaty—either the Montreal Protocol No. 4 of 1975 (MP4) or the Montreal Convention of 1999 (MC99).


What would happen if the airline is not capable of handling e-AWB?


If the airline is not capable of handling e-AWB, the paper process will be used.


Leo V. Morada is a subject expert on IT applications in Philippine port operations with more than 30 years senior IT management experience implementing technology solutions in port operations, electronic transactions with customs & port authority, and air/sea port community system applications.  He is Director of Cargo Data Exchange Center, Inc, a value-added service provider accredited by BOC and PEZA. He may  be contacted at lmorada3f1@yahoo.com.


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