The International Air Cargo Association’s (TIACA) new incoming secretary general, Vladimir Zubkov (pictured) takes the helm at arguably one of the most pivotal and challenging times for air cargo.
The next few years are set to be vital period for the industry as it looks to go paperless, modernise its processes, adapt to the challenges and opportunities of e-commerce and recover yield prices.
Zubkov will take over formally as secretary general in January, with Doug Brittin remaining in an advisory capacity during the handover.
He certainly seems like the man perfectly experienced to take over the mantle from the retiring Brittin and will no doubt call upon his 40 years in the air transport industry, including senior roles with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), and, most recently, as vice president of the Volga-Dnepr Group.
Zubkov explains to Air Cargo Week: “I want to bring all this knowledge in a new way and use my wide network and facilitate better communication and understanding of the industry. This is very important. We need to work together.”
He says there is much more opportunity for the supply chain to work together and collaborate and feels at present it is insufficient and there is a lack of it in the industry.
An area where many feel more should be done is on creating as much standardisation of processes as standards of various aspects of air cargo vary across the globe.
This is something Zubkov wants to focus on as he says there are incompetent processes across the supply chain, but he says there is currently not the mechanism to facilitate this. He feels there is a need to work closer with regulators, international associations and agencies to develop this.
Zubkov says he wants to develop a quality initiative, along the lines of the Airports Council International’s (ACI) Airport Service Quality (ASQ) benchmarking programme, explaining: “We have nothing like this in air cargo and there is a need and an opportunity for this as the standards are not uniform across the industry and we have plenty of room for improvement.
“I want to strengthen the cooperation between TIACA with other international associations. We want to develop and we are going to discuss this with ICAO.”
Zubkov also believes that promotion of the air cargo industry and the important role its plays in global trade and society needs to be ramped up, as currently there is a lack of information and understanding of what airfreight brings, and in his view “something needs to be done”.
“We need to bring it to the level of the decision-makers and build the knowledge of air cargo with CEO’s of businesses. The value of air cargo almost equals the amount airlines makes from business class passengers – there is comparable revenue,” Zubkov says, adding: “I want to focus on increasing the awareness and importance of air cargo.”
Another focus area is to continue the work Brittin has done on working to get air cargo security regulations standardised across the industry.
Zubkov feels there are too many inconsistencies and too much confusion and there needs to be a uniform approach. He adds: “There needs to be a common database on the regulations and all the participants – the regulatory agents.”
He is aiming to work closely with ICAO, the International Air Transport Association, ACI, World Customs Organization, freight forwarder organisations and other partners, to ensure that new regulations are implemented in a uniform way across the industry.
As for TIACA’s membership, Zubkov says there is a need to add members from across some regions like Africa, Latin America, the Far East and Middle East.
He says TIACA needs to engage with more territories and he wants to make sure “no-one is left behind” and all regions and parts of the supply chain are represented and have a voice.
In general, Zubkov is optimistic about the future of the industry and believes it is embracing e-commerce and e-freight, but says even more work needs to done.
He says the industry must continue to push for modernisation, championing e-commerce, drive e-freight penetration and engaging with the World Trade Organization, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, regional development banks, and relevant regional organisations to “form new alliances” to drive faster and more complete adoption of e-freight.
He concludes: “I believe that the high level of people we have in the industry is remarkable at different levels. We have so much knowledge and talent in the industry and we need to see these people who are in the field at the conferences – we are then bound to succeed.
“We need to work together and have the ideal engagement in the proper fashion and then I believe the air cargo industry can continue to blossom and then there is no doubt we will be a success.”