Paperless future: Finnair Cargo among forerunners


“We are ready to carry paper-free shipments in e-freight,” says Petteri Hellén, Manager of e-Solutions, Commercial Partners & Global Mail at Finnair Cargo.

“For Finnair Cargo, the e-AWB is the first priority. Our goal is to have the e-AWB process implemented on over 50 per cent of our online stations during this year,” says Finnair Cargo’s Petteri Hellén. The e-AWB (electronic Air Waybill) is one of the key elements for the move to e-freight.

In the paper world, air cargo shipments require as many as 20 different paper documents, which slows down air cargo processes and is a strain on natural and other resources. Estimates place paperwork generated by international air cargo as filling up to eighty 747-cargo planes annually. 

IATA (International Air Transport Association) has set ambitious goals for e-AWB adoption: 50 per cent by 2014, and 100 per cent by 2015. Some estimates place current international e-AWB usage at around nine per cent. 

Ahead of the pack 

“Of Finnair’s 133 cargo partners and companies, 65 per cent are ready for e-AWB,” says Hellén.

“At this point, we have 13 airport stations totally e-ready or paper-free: Amsterdam, Stockholm-Arlanda, Barcelona, Budapest, Hamburg, Helsinki, Hong Kong, London Heathrow, Manchester, Singapore, Tallinn, Berlin-Tegel and Zurich,” says Hellén. “We’re currently testing our own processes and are ready to test forwarding agents messaging. And then we will add new stations as soon as possible.” 

According to Hellén, Finnair Cargo’s goal is 60 per cent e-AWB adoption by next year, well ahead of the IATA target of 50 per cent for 2014. Finnair Cargo is also leading the way in the Nordic countries for early adoption of the e-AWB.

“We’re almost there, but the challenges include jurisdiction and legality of documents,” he says. “For example, e-Freight is dependent on freight forwarders. As with any new system, some are wary of change as it brings about new processes, costs of adapting to new technologies, and new billing methods. Finnair offers e-Booking web services that take care of air waybill and house air waybill messaging that are mandatory to getting e-AWB shipments on-board,” says Hellén. 

Among the many challenges for Finnair and other airlines is the outsourcing of ground handling services. That means additional external players for airlines to work with in a time of heightened international security.

Customs gone electronic

Hellén credits Finnish Customs – the world’s first customs to become totally electronic – as having greatly aided Finnair Cargo in its e-AWB adoption. 

“Finnish Customs is really a forerunner in the international customs arena and they’ve worked hard to achieve their goal of being totally electronic. Now the EU countries are benefitting from this,” he says.

Another challenge is that there are some major countries that have not yet legally approved IATA’s e-AWB and e-freight processes such as Russia, Thailand and Brazil. 

“It’s been a long process, but we’re almost there,” says Hellén.

Finnair Cargo e-Services

Text by Katja Pantzar
Photo by Finnair

Published September 17, 2013

Category: Environment, Finnair Cargo