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DOHA: September 14, 2016. Qatar Airways Cargo says it is the first airline to fully deploy Cargo-XML (Extensible Mark-Up Language) in replacement of Cargo-IMP.

The hoary IATA standard, now in its 34th (and last) edition, was developed for airlines and forwarders to exchange information on bookings, airwaybills, flight manifest, accounting, status, discrepancy, embargo, Customs, CASS billing, dangerous goods, allotments and surface transportation.

Qatar Cargo Prior to the use of the Internet to exchange data, airlines and forwarders relied on Cargo-IMP to transmit air cargo information bilaterally via public telephone lines connected to their mainframe computers. Despite the intent, the process did not replace paper or cost.

Subsequently, and in order to include other actors in the logistics process - including truckers, Customs authorities, ocean carriers and shippers - cargo data exchanges emerged in Europe and North America to translate Cargo-IMP into other standards including ANSI X12 and UNEDIFACT - for a fee.

With the advent of the Internet and the use of Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML) to describe web pages, IATA eventually realized a new standard would make data exchange so much cheaper and easier for its members.

XML was created so that richly structured documents could be viewed and used over the web as quickly and easily as HTML. Cargo-XML combines the functionality of XML with structured cargo message formats.

The ISO-defined Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML), although the accepted way to maintain repositories of structured documents for more than a decade, was not considered an ideal option.

Qatar Cargo says it has now both implemented and integrated Cargo-XML into its cargo management system – echoing an IATA goal of a paperless trading environment for forwarders and other participants.

"With its adoption of Cargo-XML Qatar Airways is bringing the freight industry one step closer to achieving messaging standardization on a global scale," said Glyn Hughes, IATA global head of Cargo. "Achieving alignment across the industry not only facilitates trade growth and improves cargo security, it also helps to ensure that the millions of tonnes of air cargo transported annually from medicines to crucial electronic components reach the consumer more easily," he added.

Nearly 30 years after the first air cargo community system appeared in Europe, IATA says its goal is 56 percent industry adoption of electronic waybills by the end of 2016.

Currently the figure is around 40 percent. And there's still a lot of paper.

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