In December Emirates SkyCargo became the first e-freight-compliant carrier in the Middle East. Today, having successfully handled more than 1,000 e-freight shipments, it is the leading airline worldwide in terms of the number of e-freight consignments carried each week.

E-freight has been adopted by numerous freight forwarders sending cargo both to and through the carrier’s Dubai hub.

The thousandth e-freight shipment was sent by Dubai based Allport Cargo from Dubai to London Heathrow. To date, the leading freight forwarder network-wide is DHL Global Forwarding with nearly 400 shipments on Emirates SkyCargo alone.

Niranjan Navaratnarajah, Emirates Manager Cargo Systems & Revenue Planning and co-Chairperson of the Dubai implementation team, said, ‘Part of the reason for the quick uptake in Dubai is the complete buy-in from the authorities involved in implementing the initiative.’

Forwarders who send traffic using e-freight can enjoy the benefits of a faster service through reduced cycle times; greater reliability and accuracy with its one-time electronic data entry at point of origin; better visibility as electronic documentation allows for online track and trace functionality; and Customs benefits as the number of fines are reduced and deposits are no longer required. On top of these benefits, there is the added financial stimulus for Dubai based customers whereby Customs does not retain the forwarders’ deposits.

It is estimated that e-freight saves the industry US$1.2 billion annually through reduced inventories and document processing cost savings.

Dubai Customs, Emirates SkyCargo and Dnata have been working closely with Dubai’s freight forwarding community to encourage the uptake of e-freight.

Juma Al Ghaith, Executive Director for Customs Development at Dubai Customs, said, ‘At Dubai Customs we have long held the principle of working closely with other authorities and the private sector to improve the trading processes and reduce the cycle time of goods being transported to Dubai. The introduction of the declaration processing system, Mirsal 2, which enables paperless declarations to Customs of freight arriving in Dubai; and the implementation of the e-freight initiative are just two of the many ways we at Dubai Customs are contributing to the ongoing success of Dubai as an international trading hub.’

Mr. Navaratnarajah added that while many freight forwarders had started sending e-freight shipments on enabled routes, there was still a lot of potential for growth ’ with more forwarders still to begin using it, as well as a greater number of shipments to be sent via e-freight.

Emirates SkyCargo has been a strong supporter of IATA e-freight since the concept was first tabled. There are now airports at 16 countries which are e-freight enabled, including Dubai, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Mauritius, UK, Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Canada and the US.