This year’s Shippers’ Survey turned up an alarming result, with 40 per cent of respondents saying they are unaware of Dangerous Goods Regulations pertaining to the transport of e-commerce products, reports Donald Urquhart.
The Internatonal Air Transport Association (IATA) revealed the results today at the World Cargo Symposium in Singapore.
“That is an alarming figure considering ecommerce is effectively enabling millions of small shippers to open up new markets,” says IATA global head of cargo, Glyn Hughes (pictured above).
“We should be extremely concerned about it,” says Atlas Air Worldwide EVP & chief commercial officer, Michael Steen when asked in one of the panel sessions by Hughes on what can be done about it.
Noting that the consequences of undeclared DG onboard an aircraft, such as lithium batteries, can be ”catastrophic in nature – and that can’t be allowed to happen,” he says.
He adds the one thing that should be done on a global basis “is to criminalise anybody who is trying to put any form of cargo on an aircraft that is unsafe and hasn’t been declared properly. There has to be criminal punishment for that because you are jeopardising peoples lives,” Steen adds.
This year’s survey saw over 400 responses representing almost the entire breadth of the industries that use air cargo.
The survey did contain some positive notes, with some 52 per cent of respondents foreseeing using more air cargo in 2019 than in 2018. “So again there are some optimistic green shoots we need to embrace,” adds Hughes.
And overall 16 per cent said they were very happy with air cargo while, eight per cent indicated they were very unhappy with the air cargo services they received. Overall the industry was given a grade of 7/10 – the same score the industry received two years ago after the first round of surveys.
And on combatting shipment of illegal items, 83 per cent of respondents said they are ready to sign a code of conduct to combat counterfeits, illegal wild life trade and illegal narcotics. This shows the high ethical approach to social responsibility and would like to see that translated into supply chain partnerships, Hughes says.
Hughes adds that this year will see continued engagement over key issues like digitalisation, engagement with international trade and development bodies, efforts to attract the next generation of air cargo leaders and e-commerce related aspects, like lithium batteries.
“We as an industry have taken this onboard and have an outreach programme for Dangerous Goods and our safety team are engaging with a number of platform providers encourage them to do more and make the message far reaching,” he says.
Hughes notes that the IATA Cargo team has been working over the last 12 months with governments around the world, battery manufacturers and suppliers throughout the supply chain in a collaborative fashion, “to ensure that the issues that this industry has highlighted reach the ears of those who can actually make the changes that are required.”
In his Welcome Address, Singapore Airlines chief executive officer, Goh Choon Phong noted that when lithium batteries are “manufactured, packaged, presented and tendered in accordance with international regulations, they are safe to transport.”
Hughes adds that, “the challenge we have to find as an industry is to work with regulators so that they can actually identify rogue shippers and manufacturers who are not in compliance with international standards and ensure that they do not get into the supply chain in the first place.
“It’s a global consumer risk and its one, that we in the supply chain are working with governments to try and eradicate.”