Airfreight is essential for the global economy, but is often overlooked as aviation focuses on passenger and business travel, according to the Global Shippers Forum (GSF).
In a document called, The value of air cargo to the global economy, the GSF says that for many business sectors, such as high end manufacturing and pharmaceuticals, airfreight is essential. It says that sea freight from Europe to Asia can take up to a month, which for time-sensitive products such as medicine and documents is not viable.
GSF secretary general, Chris Welsh, says: “The importance of airfreight to the global economy is often overlooked, with the focus almost exclusively centred on passenger and business travel. Aviation is a key enabler of global economic growth and social development, and GSF aims to champion the value of airfreight.”
It says airfreight represents two to three per cent of freight tonnage worldwide, but up to 40 per cent of imports and exports by value in advanced economies. GSF says that towards the end of 2014 economies were slowing down with the exception of the US, while Chinese growth was the slowest it had been in 25 years and Eurozone countries have been weak.
The Forum adds that growth was largely confined to the Americas and the Far East, while regions such as the Middle East and Australia were stagnating.
The GSF says that though aviation is perceived to be environmentally damaging, the industry is taking steps to reduce emissions. It says air transport represents two per cent of global carbon emissions and that the International Air Transport Association (IATA) is aiming at carbon neutral growth from 2020, average fuel efficiency increases of 1.5 per cent by 2020 and halving carbon emissions by 2050, compared to 2005.
The Forum also says the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has identified areas for reducing emissions. ICAO will decide at its annual assembly in 2016 how to implement measures of key concern from 2020. The key concerns are, how to measuring emissions, the best use of revenue, what countries need to take part and how to ensure good coverage, while taking into account the needs of developing markets.
The GSF is a member of the Global Air Cargo Advisory Group (GACAG). Through GACAG, GSF has jointly endorsed electronic cargo programmes, known as e-cargo or e-freight. In 2012, GACAG published an e-cargo roadmap which GSF endorsed and which the group said would help industry implement the electronic initiatives. The other members of GACAG are IATA, the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations and The International Air Cargo Association.