IATA WCS 2018: Air cargo industry sets out four main priorities

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IATA global head of cargo, Glyn Hughes speaking at the IATA World Cargo Symposium 2018

Accelerating digitisation of the supply chain, enforcing lithium battery regulations, more efficient trade facilitation and developing the next generation of leaders are the four priorities for the air cargo industry.

Speaking at the International Air Transport Association (IATA) World Cargo Symposium in Dallas, Texas on 13 March, IATA global head of cargo Glyn Hughes highlighted the four issues.

He says electronic air waybill (e-AWB) adoption has been slower than the industry would like, that governments need to take stronger action against rogue shippers breaching dangerous goods regulations, customs procedures must be streamlined and the industry must attract the best and brightest young professionals to lead air cargo in the future.

Hughes says the air cargo industry had an exceptional year in 2017 with nine per cent growth, and demand is expected to increase by 4.5 per cent in 2018 with great opportunities in e-commerce as well as transporting time and temperature sensitive goods such as pharmaceuticals.

He says: “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.”

E-AWB penetration has reached nearly 53 per cent and the industry is targeting a rate of 68 per cent on enabled trade lanes.

Hughes admits implementation has been slow, though says: “The industry has agreed to amend a number of resolutions and recommended practices to make the e-AWB the default standard on enabled trade lanes. We can be optimistic that these should spur e-AWB efforts forward in 2018.”

Safety is the main priority, and though there are standards and regulations for transporting dangerous goods including lithium batteries, mis-declared or non-compliant shipments continue to be an issue.

Hughes says: “We see too many examples of abuse including mislabelling 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.”

Goods are taking on average 1.41 days to clear customs controls, which is not good enough and IATA would like countries including Algeria, Bangladesh, Iran, Uzbekistan and Vietnam to implement the Montreal Convention 1999 to enable digital customs documentation.

IATA is also calling for revisions to the Kyoto Convention of the World Customs Organization to facilitate smart border solutions.

The air cargo industry needs to attract young talent to the industry, something IATA hopes to achieve through the Future Air Cargo Executives programme.

Hughes says: “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.”