Industry joins forces to safely move lithium batteries

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The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is joining forces with other industry bodies to ensure lithium batteries are moved safely by air.

By partnering with the Global Shippers Forum (GSF), the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations (FIATA) and The International Air Cargo Association (TIACA), they are renewing calls for governments to crack down on counterfeit battery manufacturers.

Mis-labelled and non-compliant shipments in the supply chain will also be targeted by issuing and enforcing criminal sanctions on those responsible.

Consumer demand for lithium batteries is growing 17% annually, as is the number of incidents involving mis-declared or undeclared lithium batteries.

Nick Careen, senior vice president airport, passenger, cargo and security of IATA says: “The industry is uniting to raise awareness of the need to comply. This includes the launching of an incident reporting tool so that information on rogue shippers is shared. And we are asking governments to get much tougher with fines and penalties.”

The campaign includes three specific initiatives, an incident reporting and alert system for airlines; an industry awareness campaign on the dangers of undeclared or mis-declared lithium batteries; and facilitation of a joined-up industry approach.

Glyn Hughes, global head of cargo at IATA says: “Government authorities must step up and take responsibility for stopping rogue producers and exporters. Abuses of dangerous goods shipping regulations, which place aircraft and passenger safety at risk, must be criminalised.”

Vladimir Zubkov, secretary general of TIACA says: “We have seen high interest from the regulators on the issue of lithium batteries not that long ago, and it did help to improve the situation. We are asking governments to put this problem again on the top of their agendas.”

James Hookham, secretary general of GSF says: “Responsible shippers rely on government enforcement of standards to protect their investment in training and safe operating procedures. Air freight remains a vital link in international supply chains and it is essential that the rules for ensuring the safe movement of all cargoes are understood and acted on by all parties involved.”

Keshav Tanner, chairman of FIATA’s airfreight institute adds: “The increasing use of lithium batteries coupled with the growth of e-commerce supply and demand is exposing the air cargo supply chain to greater risk of un-declared or mis-declared goods.  We support regulators imposing strict adherence to established compliance standards.”