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BY MOHAMMAD SHOEB
DOHA: Transition to e-freight is “critical”; Qatar Airways “needs to put a lot of efforts” to ensure a smooth transition from a manual cargo system to e-freight, as most of the big airports of the world have faced problems in the past, say experts from the air cargo industry.
“I am a bit the pessimistic in this regard, because I have not seen a major airport establishing a warehouse without problems. There was a problem in Hong Kong; there was a problem in London. I would wish that Qatar Airways put a lot of efforts into making sure that transition, which is critical, is done in a smooth way,” said Remo Eigenmann (pictured), Global Head of Airfreight at DAMCO.
He added that Qatar Airways introducing an e-freight system will offer new opportunities for all. “I have personally seen the new warehouse and handling facilities. This is fantastic and a good development.”
Introducing an e-freight system globally is also the part of initiatives facilitated by International Air Transport Association (IATA) that aims to take paper out of air cargo supply chain operations and replace it with electronic messaging. E-freight, in addition to being more accurate, reliable, and less time consuming and less expensive, has been estimated that the system will save over $5bn annually.
The new cargo terminal at Hamad International Airport (HIA) will be the second in the GCC, after Dubai, to introduce this user as well as environment friendly system. As per the latest statistics available (December 2011), e-freight was live in 42 locations and 109 airports.
Experts suggest that air cargo stakeholders, waiting for each other to implement the e-freight system first is the biggest hurdle in its growth.
“Waiting for the other party (stakeholder) to move first is the biggest blockade in the growth of the e-freight system,” said Remo.
About 10 percent of global freight is done electronically, and IATA has set a goal to achieve 20 percent in 2013.
Asked why the air cargo stakeholders are reluctant to introduce the system, he said: “Everybody understands that we have to go that way, but airlines, forwarders, handling agents and customs authorities, are all waiting on the other party to do the first move which is blocking the whole development of e-freight system.”
E-cargo or e-freight, according to Remo, is a very important way forward to increase productivity in the system.
“We are implementing a new IT system called ‘Cable’ which will allow us to go e-freight. We totally believe in the electronic flow of information as this speeds up the process entirely.
“Every year in every conference the importance of e-freight is being restated again and again but we are still moving in a snail’s space,” he added.
IATA has been striving to implement a paper-free cargo system globally. But there are many countries where, due to government restrictions, officials and local customs authorities do not approve or permit the deliveries without papers.
“For example in Qatar, although the country is in the process of changing, and we do accept e-cargo system, but when it comes to custom clearance, sometimes we do face challenges. Local governmental bodies ask for the old format of BLs (Bill of Lading) being issued,” said another expert who did not wish to be named. The Peninsula