As the association’s director general and CEO, Giovanni Bisignani, claims, “Our mission is to take the paper out of cargo by the end of 2010. The air cargo business is drowning in paper. Every cargo shipment travels with up to 38 documents. Each year we could fill 39 747-freighters with the paper wasted on this documentation.”
The e-freight program – one segment of IATA’s Simplifying the Business initiatives – will roll out in two stages. Early adopters will be totally paperless by the end of 2007 on key targeted trade routes. Bisignani claims that by the end of 2010 some 95% of world trade air cargo volume will be paper-free. Beyond 2010, “the vision is to completely eliminate all paper across the full multi-modal supply chain,” he adds.
Air cargo has been in decline for a while, with a modest growth in international freight of 3% for the first three months of 2005 when compared to the same period last year. IATA figures show continued strength in cargo routes connecting with Asia and the Middle East. Freight within the Asia-Pacific region is expected to grow at an annual rate of 8.5%. Freight traffic between the Middle East and Asia-Pacific will grow annually at 8.8%, according to the association.
Overall negatives for generating profits are the continuing decline in air cargo and the high price of fuel. IATA notes that in 2003 fuel cost the industry $44 billion, which has climbed to a projected total of $97 billion for 2005.