Air Cargo Management

A uniform and harmonised approach

Air cargo recovery generic TIACA

For Air Cargo Management, FIATA explains the ways in which its Air Freight Institute (AFI) is focused on enhancing air cargo movement and supporting air freight forwarders.

FIATA’s Air Freight Institute (AFI) is working to facilitate efficient and effective air cargo movement in a number of ways.

One of the key endeavours is the development of a Global Air Cargo Programme that aims to benefit all regions.

Additionally, AFI supports freight forwarders in the implementation of pre-loading advance cargo information programmes (e.g. the EU’s ICS2 Release 2) and working actively under a multi-stakeholder approach to deliver guidance and share best practices.

FIATA also provides input to regulators on industry needs and engages with shippers in the interests of facilitating awareness building on data requirements and quality needs.

FIATA additionally continues its ongoing work to defend and protect the global freight forwarding industry in respect of the current IATA Cargo Agency Programme framework, as seen at the 84th session of the IATA-FIATA Consultative Council (IFCC) which saw several important outcomes to protect freight forwarders, in line with FIATA’s position.

Towards a Global Air Cargo Programme

Despite the evolution of the commercial relationship between freight forwarders and air carriers as buyers and sellers of air cargo space, forwarders continue to operate under the outdated IATA Cargo Agency Programme rules premised on the concept of freight forwarders as airlines’ agents rather than equal commercial parties.

This has fuelled calls worldwide for a global restructuring of the current system to reflect commercial realities. This is why FIATA and IATA leaderships have pledged to work on a global and harmonised approach for all regions, which is ever more pressing for airlines and forwarders to facilitate effective operations in the evolving market.

The need for change has been acknowledged by both airlines and forwarders for many years. Positive discussions have already taken place between both constituencies in support of this work, recognising the need for both airlines and forwarders to collaborate and set global standards in all world regions to meet changing global needs, in the context of marketplace issues such as:

  • Digitalisation, and the need for interoperability and respect for ownership of data to ensure a seamless data flow, to ensure great efficiency whilst effectively addressing e-commerce and new market players.
  • Integration of pick-up and last-mile delivery services for air cargo to serve e-commerce.
  • The need for stronger data exchange capabilities for all stakeholders in the supply chain that ensures interoperability and respect for data ownership.
  • Enhancement of security and counter-terrorism measures.
  • Maintenance and enforcement of training and handling standards for dangerous goods and hazardous cargo.
  • This requires a uniform and harmonised approach in all regions around the world to facilitate the effective operation of global supply chain actors.

Finding tangible solutions for a Global Air Cargo Programme

Work is ongoing to find tangible solutions that can be brought to the market, building on the previous progress made during the past IATA Cargo Agency Modernisation Programme (CAMP) and the IATA-FIATA Air Cargo Programme (IFACP).

In this regard, FIATA has had ongoing consultations with various stakeholders, including at multinational and regional levels. Ensuring joint governance that reflects the equal commercial standing of both parties is a key focus, as well as fostering a level playing field for companies of all sizes and streamlining the multiple overlapping rules that many freight forwarders currently have to grapple with.

Whilst there has been some recognition of the evolved role of forwarders through regional air cargo programmes in Canada, Europe and Latin America, their impact is limited as they are established under the IATA Cargo Agency Programme which, as the name suggests, is based on the outdated premise of forwarders as agents of the airlines.

Therefore, airlines still have ultimate authority through the appropriate Cargo Procedures Conference to make the rules, and the possibility for regional joint councils established under these regional programmes to have a meaningful voice is limited. Other regions around the world continue to operate solely under the original agency rules.

Strengthening effectiveness and alignment of air cargo processes

What else is FIATA doing in terms of air freight support for freight forwarders? A dedicated FIATA AFI Safety and Security Taskforce is currently working on a review of the IATA Cargo Handling Manual (ICHM), and FIATA is acting as freight forwarder voice on the Cargo iQ board to create and strengthen quality standards and practices for the global air cargo industry.

Crucially, FIATA is working to support freight forwarders in the implementation of pre-loading advance cargo information programmes (PLACI), including the EU’s ICS-2 Release 2 for air cargo. This has included the development of guidance and relevant resources. In addition, FIATA is leading a dedicated taskforce composed of freight forwarders and airline representatives to elaborate key principles that could be beneficial to define the requisite roles and responsibilities of each party in relation to multiple filing under PLACI programmes.

This feature was first published in Air Cargo Management – August/September 2023. To read the magazine in full, click here.

From L-R: David Stroud, Jorge Heinermann, Markus Muecke, Keshav Tanna, Dawit Woubishet AFI chair, Paul Cheetham and Andrea Tang, AFI manager and FIATA International trade lawyer, seen at the 2023 FIATA HQ meeting.

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