The International Air Transport Association (IATA) highlighted four priorities for the future success of the air cargo industry in the opening plenary of the World Cargo Symposium (WCS) in Dallas today.
IATA’s global head of cargo, Glyn Hughes (pictured above) said they were accelerating the digitization of the supply chain, enforcing regulations for lithium batteries, more efficient trade facilitation and developing the next generation of air cargo leaders.
He said: “Air cargo had an exceptional year in 2017 with 9% growth. And we expect a very healthy 4.5% expansion of demand in 2018. There are great opportunities in e-commerce and the movement of time-and-temperature sensitive goods such as pharmaceuticals.
“But we must accelerate the modernisation of processes, enforce regulations for the safe transport of lithium batteries and improve the efficiency of trade facilitation. Longer-term, we also need to inspire the next generation of talent. The air cargo industry has agreed to focus on these key areas and we must follow through.”
Hughes also called for “a strong collective voice against the building headwinds of protectionist measures”.
A key element of e-freight is the market adoption of the e-air waybill (eAWB). Global penetration has nearly reached 53 per cent and the industry is targeting 68 per cent by year-end on enabled trade lanes.
On accelerating digitization of the supply chain, Hughes said: “The penetration of eAWB currently stands at 53%. The implementation of e-AWB is slower than anybody – especially our customers – would like. But we are over the half-way mark.
“And the industry has agreed to amend a number of resolutions and recommended practices to make the eAWB the default standard on enabled trade lanes. We can be optimistic that these should spur eAWB efforts forward in 2018.”
On enforcing regulations for lithium batteries, Hughes said: “We see too many examples of abuse including mislabeling of lithium batteries. Governments must step up enforcement of dangerous goods regulations and take a tougher stance against rogue shippers.
“This includes using their power to impose significant fines and custodial sentences on those violating the regulations.”
The need for smarter and more efficient borders Hughes also discussed. On average it takes 1.41 days to clear goods through customs controls in 2017 (with significant regional variation), according to IATA’s Cargo IQ statistics.
Hughes said: “This is too slow for businesses that compete on speed to meet their customer needs. We need to work together with governments to cut the red tape and facilitate faster, cheaper and easier trade.”
IATA is pressing for governments to implement three important global standards – the Montreal Convention 1999 (MC99), revisions to the Kyoto Convention of the World Customs Organization and The World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement, which will make trade cheaper, faster and easier.
As for developing the next generation of air cargo leaders, Hughes said: “To achieve the scale and sustainability required to meet the skills need for future growth of the air cargo industry a more collaborative and concerted effort towards developing a sustainable workforce is required across out industry.”