The ever-present AWB in air cargo

Air Waybills (AWBs) have been around since 1929, ensuring that all the details pertaining to any one air cargo shipment are documented as a legal contract between the respective transporting parties. Though meanwhile largely transacted on a digital basis, they still require a lot of work regardless of their digital or analog form. And ECS Group this week shared information on its growing ‘VERIFY’ solution aimed at lifting that burden of repetitive AWB processes from the shoulders of airlines or their GSAs, to enable them to concentrate fully on revenue-generating, customer-facing tasks.

ECS Group’s Bulgarian and Indian Squair teams – image: ECS Group

But before we look at VERIFY, the brief tongue-in-cheek reflection on the state of eAWB implementation following a cheeky comment I had left on Cargo Director, Joszef Kossuth’s LinkedIn post last week regarding upcoming happenings at Budapest Airport, led me to run a quick search on eAWB penetration. And lo – what do we find? The original IATA plan was to have 100% eAWB penetration by 2022. We are now into 2024, and implementation appears to have stagnated at 85% in the past few years, now 14 years after its introduction. Pretty much like the eAWB information on the IATA website, which also seems stuck in SEP20 or JAN22, depending on which document you pull up. And any up-to-date target has quietly disappeared somewhere along the way.

From the passive to the dynamic
Switch to ECS Group’s Squair teams, and the AWB story is a much more dynamic one – as well as a completely digital one, too. The press release’s title last week was “One million AWBs and Growing”, in relation to the GSSA’s unique VERIFY product – or Ability – as the group prefer to refer to it. “Last month, ECS Group’s Squair team verified its one millionth AWB since VERIFY operations first began in MAR20. Squair offers a crucial and unique back-office service to airlines and GSAs, enabling them to concentrate fully on tasks of higher value for customers. The speed of industry adoption is fanning further expansion,” the release states.

VERIFY is the name given to Squair’s AWB verification and data capture service, wherein AWBs are processed, and any resulting billing queries are followed-up on. Data is consolidated and cargo sales reports checked. Given the lack of available staff in the industry, the possibility to outsource these processes is very welcome. “This centralized process optimization means lower operational costs for customers, and results in fewer Charges Correction Advices (CCA) and disputes,” the release confirms.

Positive growth
Dimitri Arnaudin, Managing Director at Squair, explains: “When Squair’s VERIFY product was launched in 2020, around 50,000 AWBs were processed in the first year. Today, our team handles that same amount in just a single month. 36 international clients located across America, Europe, Asia, and Oceania now benefit from the expertise and reliability of our service, and our KPIs clearly show the weight of workload that no longer rests on their shoulders. Squair is a digital native and sustainable company. Since the beginning, we’ve made processes paperless. Historically, AWB verification was done through printed AWB copies. Squair works with 100% electronic versions and its processes are supported using entirely cloud-based IT architecture.”

95% of all AWBs are processed autonomously and fewer than 5% of those AWBs require clarification in order to complete data capture. Less than 1% of AWB verifications result in a CCA and change in invoice to customers, hence overall, the team ensures 99%+ reliability. And in terms of AWB numbers, the team’s activity doubled in 2023 compared to 2022, and a 60%+ increase is predicted for 2024.

Fair and Squair
It is refreshing to hear a company confirm its commitment to diversity and gender equity. In FEB23, the original Squair team in Bulgaria was fortified by the creation of a second Squair team in India. Already by the end of 2023, the Indian team counted 14 staff, and is looking to double in size by the end of this year – always with a clear balance on gender, too. Arnaudin reports: “We now have 16 people working, and the plan is to keep growing the team up to 23 by the end of this year. To date, 57% of our team members are women, and at management level the ratio is 60% female.”

Squair is on its way to going global
Adrien Thominet, Executive Chairman of ECS Group, explained: “Squair’s growth strategy is fine-tuned to ensure continued consistent compliance with our customers’ SLAs. We currently operate out of 2 centers: one in Europe, one in Asia. Within weeks of inaugurating our India office last year, we began services in APAC, marking our first step in the region. Since then, we have attracted more data capture activities for this region, including Japan in July 2023, and Australia and New Zealand in December – all adding to our solid customer base in Western Europe and Northern America.”

Seems Squair’s VERIFY is the perfect in-between step for airlines battling resource issues and without their own digital solutions, before AI takes over the game completely – whenever that may be.

spot_img
spot_img
spot_img
spot_img
spot_img

1 COMMENT

  1. Hallo Brigitte,
    Das ist sehr interessant. Hätten Sie eine Kontaktperson bei Squair zu vermitteln. Ich habe Interesse auf eine Zusammenarbeit.
    Danke schön und viele Grüße
    Renato Reckmann

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

See Also