Understanding the Air Waybill: Complete Guide

International Freight Forwarder

Comprendre la lettre de transport aérien : guide [2024]

Are you curious about what an air waybill (AWB) is and why it is important for your air shipments? This article provides a comprehensive explanation of the AWB, covering its definition, role, and how to fill it out correctly. 

Mastering this essential document can optimize your transport operations and avoid time-consuming issues. Let's now go through the different aspects of the AWB and discover how it regulates air transport.

  • The importance of the AWB for air transport
  • Detailed steps to fill out an AWB

What is an Air Waybill?

The air waybill (AWB), also known as the Air Waybill, is a contractual document issued by an airline or a freight forwarder, serving as a transport contract between the shipper and the carrier. It plays a valuable role by detailing the required information for transport and ensuring the authenticity of goods. détaillant les informations nécessaires pour le transport et en assurant la traçabilité des marchandises.

Important mentions in an AWB

  1. Shipper's identity: Full name and contact details of the person or company sending the goods.
  2. Consignee's identity: Full name and contact details of the person or company receiving the goods.
  3. Carrier's identity: Name of the airline responsible for the transport.
  4. Freight forwarder's identity: Details of the logistics intermediary, if any.
  5. Handlers' identity: Information on the parties responsible for loading and unloading.
  6. Place and date of issue: Indication of the place and date where the AWB was issued.
  7. Contract number: Unique reference associated with the shipment.
  8. Departure airport: Name of the airport where the transport begins.
  9. Destination airport: Name of the destination airport.
  10. Intermediate stops: Indication of any layovers during transport.
  11. Nature of goods: Precise description of the products shipped.
  12. Number of packages and their identification numbers: Quantity of packages and their unique identifiers.
  13. Weight and volumes of goods: Precise measurements of the shipped goods.
  14. Transport cost: Fees associated with the shipment.
  15. Date, place of payment, and name of the payer: Details regarding the payment of transport.

Importance and authority

The AWB is an essential document for any shipment by air, ensuring not only traceability but also compliance with international regulations on the transport of goods. 

according to the IATA (International Air Transport Association) air transport manual.

Jean-Pierre Lefèvre, an air logistics expert, adds:

Without a properly filled AWB, shipments can face significant delays or even refusals for transport.

The AWB is therefore an indispensable document that ensures not only the proper management of the shipment but also compliance with legal and contractual obligations in air transport.

How to fill out an air waybill?

Let's now discover the process of filling out an air waybill (AWB), explaining each section of the document in detail.

Steps to fill out an AWB

Filling out an air waybill can seem complex, but by following these steps, we ensure that all necessary information is correctly entered.

  1. Shipper's identity
    • Full name, address, phone number, and email of the shipper.
    • Example: "ABC Corporation, 123 Main Street, Paris, France, +33 1 23 45 67 89, contact@abccorp.fr"
  2. Consignee's identity
    • Full name, address, phone number, and email of the consignee.
    • Example: "XYZ Imports, 456 Central Avenue, New York, USA, +1 234 567 8901, info@xyzimports.com"
  3. Carrier's identity
    • Name of the airline responsible for the transport.
    • Example: "Air France Cargo"
  4. Freight forwarder's identity
    • If applicable, details of the freight forwarder.
    • Example: "Global Logistics, 789 International Boulevard, London, UK, +44 20 1234 5678"Handlers' identity
  5. Handlers' identity
    • Information on the companies or individuals responsible for loading and unloading.
    • Example: "Handling Co., Charles de Gaulle Airport, Paris, France"
  6. Place and date of issue
    • Place and date where the AWB is issued.
    • Example: "Paris, 01/06/2024"
  7. Contract number
    • Contract or unique reference number associated with the shipment.
    • Example: "AWB123456789"
  8. Departure airport
    • Name of the airport where the transport begins.
    • Example: "CDG - Charles de Gaulle Airport"
  9. Destination airport
    • Name of the destination airport.
    • Example: "JFK - John F. Kennedy Airport"
  10. Intermediate stops
    • If applicable, planned layovers during transport.
    • Example: "Heathrow Airport, London"
  11. Nature of goods
    • Precise description of the shipped products.
    • Example: "Electronic parts, lithium batteries"
  12. Number of packages and their identification numbers
    • Quantity of packages and their unique identifiers.
    • Example: "10 packages, ID: 001-010"
  13. Weight and volumes of goods
    • Total weight and volumes of the goods.
    • Example: "Total weight: 500 kg, Volume: 3 m³"
  14. Transport cost
    • Associated transport fees.
    • Example: "2,000 €"
  15. Date, place of payment, and name of the payer
    • Details regarding the payment of transport.
    • Example: "Paris, 01/06/2024, payable by John Doe"

Air Waybill model and example

Jean Dupont, a logistics specialist at GlobalTrade, shares:

Using our AWB model, we have simplified the shipping process and avoided costly errors. Filling out an AWB correctly is essential to ensure smooth delivery.

By following this step-by-step guide and using the available resources, you can successfully fill out an air waybill and increase the efficiency of your transport operations. For personalized advice, don't hesitate to contact our experts.

Different types of air waybills

This section will guide you through the different types of air waybills, explaining their roles, uses, and specificities.

Master Air Waybill (MAWB)

This section will guide you through the different types of air waybills, explaining their roles, uses, and specificities.The Master Air Waybill (MAWB) is a document issued by the main airline or the primary freight forwarder. It serves as a transport contract for the goods and contains essential information such as:

  • Shipper's and consignee's identity
  • Description of goods
  • Transport details (departure airport, destination airport, intermediate stops)
  • Handling instructions and transport conditions
  • Transport fees

The MAWB is used to track shipments throughout their journey and is necessary for customs clearance of goods. For example, an airline like Air France Cargo would use an MAWB to transport electronic parts from Paris to New York, indicating all stops and responsibilities.

House Air Waybill (HAWB)

The House Air Waybill (HAWB) is issued by a freight forwarder for each individual shipment under an MAWB. It details specific information for each shipment and transfers responsibility from the freight forwarder to the shipper and consignee.

Key differences between HAWB and MAWB

  • Usage :
    • MAWB: Used by the main carrier for the entire batch of goods.
    • HAWB: Used by the freight forwarder for each individual shipment under the MAWB.
  • Responsibility: :
    • MAWB: The main carrier is responsible for the goods until the final destination.
    • HAWB: The freight forwarder manages individual shipments, liaising between shippers and consignees.

For example, Global Logistics might issue an HAWB for a shipment of 10 packages of lithium batteries from Paris to New York, detailing specific information for this shipment, while the MAWB would cover all consolidated shipments for this journey.

Once you understand the differences and uses of MAWB and HAWB, you can better manage your air shipments and ensure smooth and efficient logistics. 

Frequently asked questions about the air waybill

We answer frequently asked questions about the air waybill (AWB), providing essential information on its issuance and the necessary documents for air transport.

Who issues the AWB in air transport?

The air waybill (AWB) can be issued by several parties involved in the transport process, including:

  • The shipper : When the shipper arranges the transport, they can issue the AWB to formalize the shipment of goods.
  • The carrier : The airline responsible for the transport often issues the AWB to indicate the terms and conditions of the shipment.
  • The freight forwarder : Freight forwarders can issue an AWB when they act as intermediaries between the shipper and the carrier.

Marie Lefèvre, logistics director at Air Cargo Solutions, explains:

The AWB is often issued by the main carrier, but freight forwarders play a key role in ensuring that all necessary information is correctly entered and compliant with international regulations.

What documents are used in air transport?

Air transport involves several essential documents to ensure smooth shipping. Here is a list of the main documents and their roles:

  • Air Waybill (AWB) : Contractual document detailing the transport terms and information about the shipper, consignee, and goods.
  • Air Consignment Note : Often used as proof of receipt of goods by the carrier.
  • Commercial Invoice : Details the commercial transaction between the shipper and consignee, including the description of goods, price, and terms of sale.
  • Packing List : Provides details on the content of each package, facilitating inspection and handling of goods.
  • Certificate of Origin (CO) : Indicates the country of origin of the goods, often required for customs purposes.
  • Insurance Documents : Proof of insurance for the goods during transport, covering risks of loss or damage.
  • Security Declarations : Mandatory for certain goods, these declarations ensure that products comply with international safety standards.

Jean-Marc Bernard, an air logistics consultant, emphasizes:

Each document plays a crucial role in air transport. For example, the commercial invoice and certificate of origin are essential for customs clearance, while the AWB is indispensable for traceability and liability of goods.

In this article, we have thoroughly explored the air waybill (AWB), defining its essential roles and explaining how to fill it out correctly. We have also presented the different types of AWB, such as the Master Air Waybill (MAWB) and the House Air Waybill (HAWB), and answered frequently asked questions. 

Understanding and effectively using the AWB is crucial to ensuring smooth logistics and avoiding complications during your air shipments. To obtain personalized advice and air transport solutions tailored to your needs, contact our experts today. We are committed to providing quality logistics solutions to optimize your operations and ensure the success of your international shipments.

For more information and answers to all your questions about air freight, check out our FAQ on air freight.

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