IATA Outlines Priorities for Air Cargo in 2015

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has presented the three key priorities for the air cargo industry in an address to the World Cargo Symposium (WCS).

IATA Director General and Chief Executive Officer Tony Tyler used his keynote speech at the WCS in Shanghai, China, to outline the importance of a transition to paperless freight, global handling standards for pharmaceutical goods and the continued safe transportation of lithium batteries.

The transition to paperless freight finally saw lift-off in 2014, as the industry exceeded 24% global e-Air Waybill (e-AWB) penetration. Key to the improvement was enhancing collaborative work across the air cargo chain and with customs authorities. A growing number of routes around the world now have the necessary regulatory approval, including, from November 2014, Shanghai. “We still have work to do to help businesses transition, but there has been a big change in the mentality of the industry. We can now look ahead and plan for the digitization of other air cargo documents, through a collaborative industry approach,” said Tyler. The industry is aiming to achieve 45% e-AWB penetration in 2015 and 80% in the following year.

To help foster air cargo’s competitiveness in securing the $60 billion spent annually in the pharma-logistics market, IATA has developed a new initiative, the Centre of Excellence for Independent Validation in Pharmaceutical Logistics (CEIV Pharma). CEIV Pharma assesses and validates cool-chain processes and provides training to guarantee that they comply with all applicable standards and regulatory requirements. “The benefit of CEIV certification for all organizations will be to instill trust and confidence with shippers that the sensitive goods will be handled reliably until they reach the customer,” said Tyler.

The continued safe transportation of lithium batteries remains a key concern for the industry. Robust regulations and guidance exist, but these are not being fully adhered to by all shippers. China is the largest producer of lithium batteries and therefore a key market. IATA has developed the Lithium Battery Shipping Guidelines in Chinese to raise awareness on this vital issue, but the issue is also one for government authorities. “Regulators need to step up. The industry is doing what it can, but without oversight, surveillance and where necessary, enforcement, compliance at the source of the shipment will be limited,” said Tyler.

The seriousness with which this last point is taken was demonstrated in a subsequent speech by the head of IATA’s Cargo Committee, James Woodrow. Woodrow called on governments to criminalise breaches of IATA’s Dangerous Goods Regulations where shippers intentionally misdeclare dangerous goods. “Flagrant abuses of dangerous goods shipping regulations, which place aircraft safety at risk, must be criminalised, as are other actions which place aircraft safety at risk,” he said. “Government authorities must step up and take responsibility for regulating producers and exporters.”