Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Social Benefits, Modernisation, Open Skies, Global Standards and Automation in Cargo Carriage

IATA Boss Paints a Vision for the Future of Air Freight
Shipping News Feature
WORLDWIDE – Speaking at this year's World Cargo Symposium, The International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) Director General and CEO, Alexandre de Juniac, has called on governments and the air cargo industry to focus on three priorities to accommodate the expanding demand for air cargo and ensure the economic and social benefits of aviation can be maximised. The three priorities are:
  • Accelerating the speed of process modernisation,
  • Implementing and enforcing global standards, and
  • Keeping borders open to trade.
The operating environment for air cargo is increasingly challenging. Demand for air cargo grew by 3.5% in 2018, a significant deceleration from 2017 which saw extraordinary growth of 9.7%. Weakening global trade, sagging consumer confidence and geopolitical headwinds contributed to a general slowdown in demand growth commencing in mid-2018. And January 2019 saw a year-on-year contraction of 1.8%.

In calling for the modernisation of industry processes, IATA says that this will be critical to efficiently meet the doubling of demand expected over the next two decades. This process is already being called for by customers of the industry's most promising growth markets, such as e-commerce and the transport of time, as well as temperature-sensitive, goods such as pharmaceuticals and perishables.

Aligned with a resolution on modernising air cargo from the 2017 IATA Annual General Meeting, the Association called for faster progress on the digitisation of the supply chain and more effective use of data to drive improvements in operational quality. The industry's digital vision is focused on four areas:

  • Global implementation of the e-Air Waybill (e-AWB);
  • Universal adoption of a common data language—Cargo XML standards;
  • Smart data sharing;
  • And use of performance data to drive quality improvements.
IATA also called for modernisation of air cargo facilities, with de Juniac summarising:

"The e-commerce world is looking for fully automated high-rack warehouses, with autonomous green vehicles navigating through the facility, and employees equipped with artificial intelligence and augmented reality tools. The average cargo warehouse today is an impressive sight. But there is a huge gap to fill.

"The problem is not technology. The problem is the speed to market. It's exceptionally tough to drive change in a global industry with a huge number of stakeholders where safety is top priority. But it is not mission impossible. I challenge stakeholders to find ways to drive critical change at the speed our customers expect."

IATA also urged governments to ensure that global standards are consistently implemented and enforced when necessary. In this regard, de Juniac highlighted two examples: Global standards for the safe transport of lithium batteries, and the implementation of global agreements to make trade simpler, cheaper and faster.

Finally as part of the central theme of the symposium to keep the world trading, IATA urged governments to keep borders open to trade with de Juniac continuing:

"Protectionism, trade friction, Brexit and anti-globalisation rhetoric are part of a genre of developments that pose real risk to our business and broadly across the economies of the world. We need to be a strong voice reminding governments that the work of aviation, including air cargo, is critically important. Trade generates prosperity and there are no long-term winners from trade wars or protectionist measures.

"Enabling global trade is a mission of great importance. It helps economies to grow. And in doing so it promotes better livelihoods and a better quality of life for real people in every corner of the planet. This is an integral part of why we call aviation the Business of Freedom. And nothing should stand in the way of air cargo delivering its unique contribution to the prosperity of our world."