To respond to changes in the mail and airline industry and support growing market and regulatory demands, at a time when the transport network of mail by air was becoming less reliable and less sustainable, IPC launched its Future of Mail by Air – or FoMbA – initiative.

Future of Mail by Air is an initiative launched by IPC that brings together airlines and posts to find solutions that benefit both industries. It aims at customer-supplier relationship between postal operators and air carriers to eventually lead into a business partnership improving the accountability and visibility of mail in transport whilst reducing operating costs through process optimization and standardization. The key working areas are space allocation, electronic proof of custody and delivery, data capturing efficiencies and accuracy, standard operating and messaging procedures and electronic settlement.

The initiative focuses on improving quality of service, interoperability and cost-effective operations. At the same time, it provides all stakeholders involved with a discussion forum that allows them to proactively anticipate and adapt to future trends. 

Paper-free transport documentation results

Efforts of moving from paper delivery bills to electronic messaging-based transportation have paid off. The initiative has seen steady and continuous progress in the conversion of paper delivery bills since its launch in 2009. The percentage of paper-free volumes is determined by the total volume of mail on paper-free routes as agreed by stakeholders, versus total airmail volumes exchanged between paper-free origins and destinations where EDI-capable air carriers are involved.

Targets have been progressively expanded since the beginning of the program: from a first target of 10% set in  2010 for Q1 2011 to a target overall of 75% for Q1 2014 with a minimum threshold per participant of 50%The paper free documentation score reached 65% in Q1 2013.

Evolution of the results and targets:

  • Q1 2011: actual result of16% against a 10% target
  • Q1 2012: actual result of 41% against a 35% target
  • Q1 2013: actual result of 66% against a 65% target, with 17 out of 26 FoMbA participants reaching the 35% threshold
  • Q1 2014 target: 75% (with a minimum threshold per member of 50%)

Electronic Proof of Custody and Delivery

Several targets have been set to improve the level of reporting of proof of custody (POC) and proof of delivery (POC) and to improve the data capturing efficiencies to provide POC and POD.

The POC and POD target for Q1 2013 was met with 80% of the receptacles consigned by FoMbA posts  reported in RESDIT 74 and RESDIT 21 (air carrier claim of custody and claim of delivery).

To reach such high results, the nesting of mail receptacles into air containers plays an important role. It allows airlines to scan mail at a consolidated level, thus enhancing track and trace functionality and reducing the need for multiple scanning of individual receptacles during the transport. The nesting target for Q1 2013 was met, with 50% of the consignments by FoMbA posts containing nest information, an improvement from the 20% achieved in Q1 2012.

The IPC Mail Registration Device (MRD) output targets were not met, but significant progress was made with the MRD production mode being rolled out to seven out of ten MRD locations. The registration rate and assignment of an electronic POD based on MRD data was close to 100% in three out of ten locations.

Postal operators have increasingly used nested receptacles to achieve 50% of their air mail consignments in 2012, from 20% in 2011.

FoMbA Standard Operating Messaging Procedures (SOMP)

Participants in this initiative can access the Standard Operating Messaging Procedures (SOMP), which details the processes needed in order to achieve automated, simplified, aligned and paper-free business processes for mail carriage between posts, airlines and stakeholders.

The business processes detailed in this document are based on action group inputs from pilot trials and development work on post-airline message exchange implementation, space allocation procedures, paper-free transport trials and other FoMbA-related work. It lists the process steps for all stakeholders concerned, focusing on the data capturing to be performed and messages that have to be exchanged.

Participants can login and access the document Standard Operating Messaging Procedures section via this page.