IATA WCS2017: Air cargo must modernise and improve service

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IATA director general and CEO, Alexandre de Juniac speaking at the IATA WCS 2017

The air cargo industry must accelerate modernisation and focus on delivering high quality service, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) director general and chief executive officer, Alexandre de Juniac urges.

Speaking at the 11th World Cargo Symposium in Abu Dhabi, de Juniac told delegates that the two key areas for industry transformation are simple modern electronic processes and high quality services.

He says the industry has been pursuing a digital process transformation known as e-freight for over a decade, saying: “A key element of e-freight is the market adoption of the e-air waybill. Global penetration has nearly reached 50% and the industry is targeting 62% by year-end on enabled trade lanes.”

He also says the two fastest growing and most profitable parts of business are e-commerce and time- and temperature-sensitive cargo such as pharmaceuticals.

De Juniac says: “Shippers today want responsive services based on intelligent systems able to self-monitor, send real-time alerts and respond to deviation. Technologically speaking, this is totally possible. The key to this and other innovations is using data efficiently and effectively.”

After years of virtually no growth, air cargo demand grew in the second half of 2016 and January 2017 was up seven per cent year on year.

Though this is positive, de Juniac says: “Complicated and convoluted paper-based processes that are basically unchanged from the 16th century are still being used in air cargo today. Our customers pay a premium to ship by air and they rightly expect modern processes and high quality services.”

De Juniac has also identified three areas where the industry needs the support of governments to implement global standards, these are adopting the Montreal Convention 1999 for accepting digital documentation by governments, and key countries including Thailand Vietnam need to come on board.

The Kyoto Convention of the World Customs Organization revisions to facilitate smart border solutions to reduce complexity and cost need adopting and the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement needs to be quickly implemented to make trade cheaper, faster and easier.