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Delta Cargo is making it easier for customers to do business sustainably by leading the industry in replacing its paper contracts with digital versions.

As of today, 77 percent of all freight shipped on Delta Cargo utilizes digital contracts, or e-air waybills (e-AWB), well exceeding the International Air Transport Association (IATA) industry goal of 45 percent.

Implementing e-AWBs is part of IATA’s eFreight initiative to remove paper from air cargo and digitize the 20 documents which flow between the shipper, freight forwarder, ground handler, Customs and the airlines.

Delta Cargo adopted the single process e-AWB last year, transmitting electronic data for all shipments and eliminating the need for customers to keep track of cumbersome eight-page contracts. This new process increases efficiency for employees managing shipments by storing information in one easily accessible database.

Prior to e-AWBs, Delta Cargo averaged more than 37,000 paper contracts per month. In September, they were able to reduce paper contract usage to 14,700.

 At this rate, Delta can save more than 1,500 trees per year. Beyond wood savings, there is an opportunity to preserve the more than 1.5 million gallons of water used in the paper development process, enough to fill more than two Olympic-sized swimming pools.

However, Delta’s goal is to be completely digital in the long-term.

Our goal is to become paperless, leveraging key aspects of the passenger model processes (e.g. Self-service, online booking, reliability, cargo tractability, etc.) which provide Cargo customers with a Delta-branded experience,” said Sharon Poindexter, Director – Strategic Innovation & Technology.

“At Delta Cargo, it’s all about the customer experience,” said Ray Curtis, Vice President – Global Cargo Sales and member of IATA Cargo Committee. “The difference is our employee teams driving e-AWB usage work directly with our customers. We educate them on the features and benefits so they can determine if it’s the right fit for their business.”

Air Cargo World reported IATA’s goal by year’s end won’t become a reality without a “huge shift” from current trends. In August, 31.7 percent of stations adopted e-AWBs, an increase of 2.7 percentage points compared to July.

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