We have sent goods by freight forwarder to our distributor. The goods are at the airport awaiting customs clearance, but we have been informed by the distributor that they should have been sent to the end customer. Can we amend the consignee information on the Air Waybill
Technically an airwaybill is a contract of carriage, and goods should only be released by the airline or carier to the consignee named on the AWB. However the conditions of carriage should contain a clause which allows the shipper rights to dispose of goods (rights of disposition) in various ways, one of which should be "calling for it to be delivered at the place of destination … to a person other than the Consignee named in the Air Waybill or Shipment Record."
The carrier may charge you a fee for making this change, and may well ask you to write a letter of indemnity to protect the carrier from any consequences of complying with your wishes. It may help if the consignee (ie your distributor) formally rejects the shipment, and indicates to the handling agent at destination that you intend to change the consignee name.
to clarify matters, I suggest that you speak to your carrier or forwarder.