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Dubai First In Middle East To Launch IATA e-Freight

by Lorys Charalambous,, Cyprus

06 November 2008

Dubai is ushering in a new era for air cargo, as it becomes the first city in the Middle East to launch the International Air Transport Association's e-freight initiative, which aims to improve efficiency in air cargo transportation and reduce expenditure.

The ground-breaking IATA e-freight initiative is now operational on the trade lanes between Dubai and Singapore, Hong Kong and London.

IATA e-freight is one of five “Simplifying the Business” projects led by IATA to improve service and cut costs. It puts in place business, technical and legal frameworks to enable airlines, freight forwarders, customs administrations, ground handling agents and governments to seamlessly exchange electronic information and e-documents instead of paper. IATA e-freight eliminates the need to send 13 paper documents with air cargo shipments, effectively streamlining processes, improving speed and reliability, and reducing costs.

Ram Menen, Divisional Senior Vice President Cargo for Emirates said:

“The launch of IATA e-freight in Dubai takes us into a new, more efficient era for air cargo. Emirates has been one of the key supporters of this initiative, as we see clear benefits in having paper-free operations – efficiency and direct contribution to the bottomline. IATA e-freight is a revolution for a USd55bn business that generates 12% of airline revenues and has broad implications for e-trade and the global economy.”

Mohammed Matar Al Marri, Executive Director for Cargo Operations from Dubai Customs said:

“Over the last 5 years we have seen an average yearly growth of more than 22% on the value of imports and exports in Dubai. Because of this growth Dubai Customs had already taken the necessary steps to deliver paperless trading to improve business performance and the timing of the IATA e-freight initiative is perfect as it complements Customs’ other projects to make paperless trading a reality within Dubai. Currently, Dubai Customs processes over 75% of all declarations through electronic channels and by reaching this milestone of air cargo e-freight with our partners it further delivers goals that we have to facilitate e-trade across air, sea and land channels.”

Niranjan Navaratnarajah, Emirates Manager of Cargo Systems & Revenue Planning said:

“This successful launch of this initiative highlights the close co-operation between Dubai government, customs, and the airfreight industry, including airlines, freight forwarders, airport authorities and handling agents. It was heartening to see the community embracing the concept, and combining resources towards a common cause despite many challenges.”

Over the past year, IATA has assessed the readiness of 209 locations. The IATA says that 46 countries, representing approximately 60% of global airfreight volumes, have the appropriate international treaties and high-level customs framework in place to qualify for IATA e-freight.

In addition to Dubai, IATA e-freight is currently operational in Australia, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, Luxembourg, Mauritius, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States. The industry has set a deadline of the end of 2010 for the implementation of e-freight where feasible.

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