Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Electronic Air Waybills Permeate the South East Asian Freight Sector

Technology Take Up Just Keeps Growing
Shipping News Feature

THAILAND – WORLDWIDE – The August issue of BIFA link, the British International Freight Association’s magazine, carries an homage by Director General Robert Keen to Leslie Spicer OBE, a driving force behind computerised air freight customs procedures in the UK who sadly died this year. Nowadays we consider the spread of ‘e’ technology in the industry to be essential and the power of the electronic air waybill (e-AWB) is crossing borders in an unstoppable, common sense tide.

As Thailand’s second largest air forwarder, Trans Air Cargo Co Ltd (TAC) is one of the latest agencies to take up the process and, having begun the transition in the spring, is already sending 400 to 500 AWBs per month electronically. The process isn’t always a smooth one however as Keree Chaichanavong, Managing Director TAC, explains:

“Continuous engagement with airlines on a local level is an important factor, as airline headquarters may be ready but that doesn’t mean their local offices are. Selecting the right technology partner is vital, it’s one thing to begin sending electronic data, and it’s a further step to go paperless as per the IATA resolution 672.

“First, we needed to get connected and begin transmitting data to all our airlines. Then we engaged with each locally to coordinate the switch to full e-AWB. We selected WIN as our technology provider due to their airline coverage and experience in helping independent forwarders make the switch to e-AWB, ease of use, and proactive support.

“By using WIN to transmit electronic master and house AWB data to airlines, we save money and get full tracking. WIN has full coverage with 90 airlines so we have a single process and in Thailand WIN has implemented a connection with Bangkok Flight Services (BFS), the leading ground handler, to automatically update actual weights in the system from the warehouse receipt.”

An Air France KLM Cargo (AFKLMC) spokesperson said AFKLMC had been increasing its e-AWB usage by focusing on Asia and was pleased to see that this has been met with a certain success in Thailand as well as in other countries. WIN is an online platform for independent freight forwarders to connect with partner agents, airlines, container lines, and other logistics service providers for secure, digital, shipment-level collaboration in the cloud used by agents in 111 countries.

As Keree Chaichanavong points out, Thailand posed particular problems for the IT provider which it worked out with BFS, the largest handler at the country’s main cargo airport, Suvarnabhumi (BKK), to resolve and John DeBenedette, Managing Director, WIN, commented:

“Working with TAC’s airport team has been a pleasure and it is refreshing to see such a well-organized independent forwarder engage the airlines locally to accelerate their roll-out.”