Saturday 16 October 2021
 
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Air cargo industry urged to 'continue working together'

DUBLIN, 2 days ago

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has urged the air cargo industry to continue working together at the same pace, with the same levels of co-operation as during the Covid-19 pandemic to overcome future challenges and build industry resilience. 
 
Sustainability, modernisation, and safety were highlighted as key priorities for the industry post pandemic. The call was made at the 14th World Cargo Symposium (WCS) in Dublin.
 
IATA’s Global Head of Cargo Brendan Sullivan said: “During the crisis, air cargo has been a lifeline for society, delivering critical medical supplies and vaccines across the globe and keeping international supply chains open. And for many airlines, cargo became a vital source of revenue when passenger flights were grounded. 
 
"In 2020, the air cargo industry generated $129 billion, which represented approximately a third of airlines’ overall revenues, an increase of 10–15 per cent compared to pre-crisis levels. Looking towards the future, the outlook is strong. We need to maintain the momentum established during the crisis and continue building resilience post pandemic.”
 
Outlook for air cargo
 
The outlook for air cargo in the short and long-term is strong. Indicators such as inventory levels and manufacturing output are favourable, world trade is forecast to grow at 9.5% this year and 5.6% in 2022, e-commerce continues to grow at a double-digit rate, and demand for high-value specialised cargo – such as temperature-sensitive healthcare goods and vaccines - is rising.
 
This year cargo demand is expected to exceed pre-crisis (2019) levels by 8% and revenues are expected to rise to a record $175 billion, with yields expected to grow by 15%. In 2022 demand is expected to exceed pre-crisis (2019) levels by 13% with revenues expected to rise to $169 billion although there will be an 8% decline in yields.  
 
Sullivan said: “The surge in demand for air cargo and attractive yields are not without complications. Pandemic restrictions have led to severe global supply-chain congestion and created hardships for aircrew crossing international borders. 
 
"Resourcing and capacity, handling and facility space and logistics will be an issue. This will create further operational challenges for our industry that must be planned for now. But we have demonstrated resilience throughout the crisis and with that same focus we will overcome these challenges.”   
 
IATA highlighted three major projects moving the industry towards digitalisation and the progress being made in each:
- E-air waybill is at 75% now and is expected to achieve 100% by the end of 2022.  
- It’s ONE Record vision, enabling the whole supply chain to work together off one standardised and exchangeable set of data has 17 pilots in progress involving 145 companies and three customs authorities.
- It’s Cargo XML messaging standards are being accepted by an increasing number of customs authorities.
 
“E-air waybill, ONE Record and Cargo XML are big industry projects. And they are moving us in the right direction. So that is good. But we need to continue working at the same pace as we did during the Covid-19 crisis,” said Sullivan.
 
Safety was highlighted as a priority for the industry, specifically the transport of lithium batteries.
 
“Demand for lithium batteries continues to rise as does the risk from lithium battery related fires. Our main concern has been around accidents from rogue shippers who – mis-declare shipments. But the incident on the ramp at Hong Kong International Airport earlier this year reminded us just how big the challenge is. The investigation indicated that loading and handling was as per regulation and the consignment was declared correctly,” said Sullivan.
 
IATA called for:
- Regulatory authorities (EASA and FAA) to accelerate development of a test standard  that can be used to demonstrate that fire containment pallet covers and fire-resistant containers are capable of withstanding a fire involving lithium batteries.
- Government authorities to step up and take responsibility for stopping rogue producers and exporters of lithium batteries.
- Industry to step up and expand the collection of incident data and develop methods for the data to be shared to support the airlines’ safety risk assessment processes.
 
Sullivan also noted that: “Frictions have increased across the world. And there are big political problems such as protectionism and vaccine inequality that will need time to resolve. But we have agreed treaties that need ratification, like the World Trade Organisation’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) which focuses on business and trade. Despite the political tensions we encourage countries to make good on their agreements.”
 
As of today, 154 countries have ratified the agreement – 94% of WTO membership. Governments yet to ratify the TFA are urged to do so, and signatory countries should implement it as soon as possible. The cost of inaction is high. Full implementation could boost global trade by $1 trillion per year, reducing global trade costs by an average of 14%.-TradeArabia News Service



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