Unrealized Potential Seen in Air Waybill Communication

But industry making progress in electronic messaging frequency, says head of TRAXON Europe

But industry making progress in electronic messaging frequency, says head of TRAXON Europe

Frankfurt am Main — October 23, 2006 — The air cargo industry's slower-than-expected pace of adopting electronic air waybill transmissions should not mask the significant strides in recent years to expand the quantity and frequency of electronic messages, according to Felix Keck, managing director of solution provider TRAXON Europe.

TRAXON Europe, founded in 1991 and based in Frankfurt, Germany, provides value-added e-communication services for the implementation of automation in the global airfreight industry. TRAXON Europe links over 9,000 forwarders' offices with around 90 international airlines worldwide, which together represent 95 percent of International Air Transport Association (IATA)-registered global airfreight capacity

Between 2000-2005, TRAXON Europe reported a near 100 percent gain in the number of messages transmitted through its systems, resulting in 61 million messages processed as of the end of 2005. TRAXON Europe reported a 68 percent year-over-year gain in messages as of August 2006, bringing it closer to its 2006 goal of 100 million messages processed.

Today TRAXON Europe said it has penetrated much of Europe's major air freight markets, where in certain countries about 90 percent of IATA-registered freight forwarders are connected to its systems. To continue its global momentum, TRAXON Europe said it is setting its sights on expanding in North and South America.

It was also recently selected by Air France-KLM Cargo to electronically transmit the carrier's manifests to Canadian Customs in advance of an aircraft's arrival on Canadian soil.

Accelerating e-Communication

"The positive data points, combined with the confidence underscored by our geographic expansion plans, reflect an accelerating industry trend toward e-communication," Keck said. "Growing competitive pressures, rising costs and stricter security directives will require more reliance on paper-free systems to forge closer ties between airlines, forwarders and service providers, speed up processes and optimize air freight services."

Keck added: "Airfreight partners need reliable and efficient e-communication solutions to comply with the increasing number of government authorities that require advance information about shipping manifests. Industry initiatives like Cargo2000 and IATA e-Freight are pushing for more seamless and electronic exchanges of information. In addition, airlines impose surcharges on forwarders that do not electronically submit consolidation data to the carriers for pre-clearance transmission to customs authorities."

Keck noted that of the 35 million air waybills sent globally in 2005, 20 million were still manually processed. Despite that, air waybills electronically processed by Traxon increased 10 percent year-over-year in 2005 and are expected to gain another 15 percent by the end of 2006.

Africa, South America Lag

According to Keck, the total of 20 million manual air waybills includes activity with carriers in regions like Africa and South America that do not use e-business on a regular basis. It also reflects the lack of resources on the part of smaller forwarders, many of whom do not have in-house systems.

"It is clear that some airfreight markets are more advanced than others in implementing e-communication and automation protocols," Keck said. "That is why TRAXON Europe is expanding its geographical coverage. We want all air freight partners to benefit from our tools in order to be competitive in the global market. We have been expanding in South America for the past two years, and, in 2007 we plan a major push into the North American market. One of our biggest incentives is that many of our e-communication and messaging services are free to forwarders if they transmit all of their air waybills electronically."

Along with e-Air Waybills, TRAXON Europe's e-communication toolkit includes e-Schedule, e-Booking, e-Consolidation lists and e-Status Updates that provide real-time shipment status tracking. Starting with the U.S. and India, the company has also begun electronic communication with customs authorities to expedite the flow of shipment data, enhance security and shorten hold times for shipment releases.

Additional Articles of Interest

— As threats mount and unwanted hazards become a reality, companies must be prepared to invest in safety. For more information on safeguarding your supply chain, read "Current Technology for Ensuring 'Safefreight' and 'Safemail,'" an Executive Best Practices column in the August/ September 2006 issue of Supply & Demand Chain Executive.

— Supply chain security requires a proactive approach to crisis planning and preparedness. Are you ready for the next disruption? Find out more in "Stopping Your Supply Chain Problems Before They Start," the Final Thoughts column in the August/ September 2006 issue of Supply & Demand Chain Executive.