Jul 29, 2014

JAL starts using eAWB


Toshihiro Shimizu, manager

Japan Airlines (JAL) has begun computerizing its Master Airway Bills (MAWB), starting with the cargoes entrusted by Nippon Express Co. (Nittsu) for the first flight under the new system - the JL711 (departs Narita at 6:10PM, arrives in Singapore at 12:30AM the next day) on July 28. After the flight from Narita International Airport (NRT) to Singapore Changi Airport (SIN), JAL will expand the covered routes where the electronic Airway Bills (eAWB) are enforced. The above flight represents the first time that JAL has fully implemented the use of eAWBs. Toshihiro Shimizu, manager of the international freight and mail route marketing group under JAL's Cargo & Mail division, expressed his sense of expectation about the new system, saying that, "With the launch of this program with Nittsu, we hope to add an impetus to the shift toward the eAWB in the air cargo industry."

The deal with Nittsu marks the first time that JAL applied the eAWB system on a full-fledged basis, but it has thus far been carrying out trial runs of the eAWB with Nittsu on the JL711 flight. In May this year, they conducted tests wherein they matched and checked the information on FWBs (electronic information on the MAWB that is received by the airline from the forwarder) and paper AWBs for a certain period of time, with JAL verifying that the accuracy of the FWBs received from Nittsu exceeded 95% in terms of the number of cases. The said testing period was before Nittsu entered into the M-eAWB agreement, so during the trial run in May, it carried out handling operations at the airports of departure and arrival by using paper AWBs as well.

JAL concluded the Multilateral e-AWB (M-eAWB) agreement with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) on April 28 for six airports (Narita, Haneda, Chubu, Kansai, SIN and Hong Kong), while Nittsu entered into the same agreement on July 9 for five of its bases (Tokyo, Osaka, Chiba, Aichi and Hong Kong). Such agreements led to the above launch of the e-AWB system for both companies.

With the actual implementation that kicked off on July 28, the MAWB for cargoes bound for Singapore that are entrusted by Nittsu will basically use the eAWB only. JAL and Nittsu intend to shift to the eAWB for hazardous substances, goods that require temperature control and other specialized cargoes after a certain period of time.

"The shift to eAWB serves as the first crucial step toward the realization of the eFleet," claimed Shimizu on the meaning of the above project, adding that, "If we get rid of paper documents, it will have a major impact to the transport costs and the environment. It is an extremely important undertaking for the development of the industry."

Meanwhile, there is some concern being raised by forwarders on how they would be able to cope without paper if they need to handle specialized cargoes and in case of irregular transport jobs. They envisioned problematic cases such as when there are limitations in the number of characters they can enter into the format for sending the FWB information, and when there is poor link in information between the respective systems of the airline and forwarder.

Shimizu claimed that JAL would promote the creation of a system that will enable the introduction of the eAWB with a sense of security, saying that, "We are considering the rollout of a system in which labels containing the AWB number, destination and flight name will be attached to the cargo consolidation documents in the future." He added that, "First, our immediate target is to ensure accuracy by raising the eAWB application rate in the Singapore route. On that basis, we hope to choose and determine the next routes to adopt the new system." The company is already having talks with other forwarders concerning the application of the eAWB in line with its plan to boost its usage, and it apparently aims to increase the number of airports under the M-eAWB agreement while monitoring the demand.

With regard to the selection of Singapore and Hong Kong as the first overseas bases to enter into the M-eAWB agreement, Shimizu explained that, "In both airports, there is a track record of airlines proactively using the eAWB, beginning with Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific," and, "We can say that these airports are aggressively engaged in programs to shift to the eAWB system, and by extension the eFleet (where all paper documents will be eliminated) as a partnership between the public and private sectors."

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