Tony Tyler, head of the International Air Transport Association, told a gathering of the air cargo industry today that the only way to move air freight forward is to modernize processes, secure the supply chain, follow dangerous goods regulations and commit to environmental sustainability.
He spoke during the opening of the IATA World Cargo Symposium in Doha, Qatar.
Tyler relayed the importance of a paperless environment for air cargo, noting the air waybill should be 100-percent electronic by the end of 2015. He also said the International Federation of Freight Forwarders (FIATA) and the Global Shippers Forum, two members of the Global Air Cargo Advisory Council, are making strides to digitize other freight documents.
To secure the supply chain, Tyler is asking for a global, risk-based approach complete with mutual recognition by nations around the world. The United States and European Union are pushing forward with their own security directives and are making significant progress; IATA is making headway on its own security program, Secure Freight.
Regulations are the best way to ensure safety in the air cargo industry, but Tyler said instead of adding more regulations, partners in the supply chain simply need to follow the rules that are already present. Rules dealing with dangerous goods, such as the transport of lithium batteries, make sure the industry thrives.
"With over 50 million tons of cargo transported by air annually, it is a big challenge. And this is being made even bigger as the number of shippers proliferates—particularly with the growth of e-commerce,” Tyler said in his speech.
Finally, Tyler mentioned the importance of sustainability and carbon-emissions management. The industry is striving toward a 1.5-percent improvement in fuel efficiency by 2020 and has committed to cutting cutting emissions in half by 2050. To reach these goals, Tyler said the industry must look to technology, operations and infrastructure improvements.
To bring pieces of the industry closer together, IATA officials are working with those at FIATA to move the relationship between airlines and freight forwarders onto more congenial footing. The organizations are currently working on proposals to be submitted later this year. - Jon Ross