Lufthansa cargo

Lufthansa cargo will fine customers for not using an e-air waybill

To boost electronic air waybill (eAWB) adoption the carrier has decided to introduce a 12 euro per paper air waybill fee for tradelines on which they are available. 

E-AWB penetration edged up 0.6 percentage points to 53.2% in January 2018, according to the latest statistics from IATA.

January’s figure compares with 52.6% in December 2017. IATA’s target e-AWB penetration figure is 68.0% by December 2018.

A spokesperson for Lufthansa Cargo said: “With the introduction of the digital air waybill, Lufthansa Cargo has already set the course for the digitalisation of the logistics industry.

“As of April 2, 2018, the airline will introduce a fee to pass on the costs incurred in processing paper-based bills of lading. The Paper AWB Fee is charged for each consignment for which no e-AWB exists. In an introductory phase until 1 October 2018, only a reduced amount will be charged.”

The spokesperson added: “E-AWBs are already well received by many Lufthansa Cargo customers and partners – they simplify document handling, reduce the error rate in data transmission and make processes more effective.

This development is to be further promoted.

“Since 2013, Lufthansa Cargo has been offering the possibility to digitise central airfreight documents and thus switch to e-AWBs, a decision that allows companies to save up to 50% of their document processing time and thus significantly reduces costs.

“In order to ensure smooth implementation, the freight carrier supports the switch to the digital consignment note.”

A spokesperson for the carrier told The Loadstar this programme would initially run until 1 October, at which point the fee could rise.

“With the introduction of the digital air waybill, Lufthansa Cargo has already set the course for the digitalisation of the logistics industry,” said the spokesperson.

Responding to the news, head of Evofenedex, the Dutch Shippers’ Council, Rogier Spoel told The Loadstar it was the right idea – but the wrong approach.

“We’re in favour of a greater push for eAWBs, but this only works if you stimulate parties to use them, not punish those that use paper,” said Mr Spoel.

“This could be achieved with lower rates or other incentives: offer shippers free track and trace on the eAWB, and that will push forwarders to adopt eAWB.”

Mr Spoel was not alone in his stance, with several forwarders echoing his comments, with supply chain business development director at MIQ Logistics, Matt Fullard noting that “many” airlines and airports are yet to participate in eAWB roll-out. And he questioned Lufthansa’s justification in imposing fees as a result.

“Arbitrary charges are never welcomed by MIQ Logistics, or the forwarding community who will always try to protect their customers,” added Mr Fullard.

“The danger for Lufthansa is that those affected by the imposition of this fee will simply select alternative carriers.”

Unsworth Global’s Mario Gomez said there are still many forwarders and shippers that are are unaware of eAWB and its advantages.

“There is still a lot of progress to be made in raising awareness of the eAWB initiative and the airline’s do have a big role in achieving that, but is levying a charge really the best way to achieve this?” asked Mr Gomez

“We believe that eAWB and paperless transactions is the right move for the industry, but instead of a charge for those that still use paper AWB, a reward system could be devised for the forwarders and shippers that implement the eAWB.”

Air freight director at Norman Global Gary Dean acknowledged that he shares Lufthansa’s frustration with the slow pace of eAWB adoption, but we did not support the imposition of this fee.

“Particularly when the primary benefit is on the carrier’s side rather than the forwarder, who has to invest in costly software changes in order to participate,” said Mr Dean.

“Additional charges are always received negatively, rather than levying a surcharge for not adopting eAWB, we would prefer to see a discount, or other reward, for adopting eAWB.”

The carrier did not respond to questions on whether subsidiary carriers Brussels and Swiss World Cargo would also be implementing the fee. However, the spokesperson did say eAWBs were “already well received” by many of its customers and partners as they “simplify” handling and reduce errors.

“It’s a decision that allows companies to save up to 50% of document processing time, and thus significantly reduces costs,” continued the spokesperson. “In order to ensure smooth implementation, the freight carrier supports the switch to the digital consignment.”

Source: The Loadstar /Air Cargo News