The Airforwarders Association (AfA) and the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America (NCBFAA) to tackle the infrastructure crisis faced by the US air cargo industry has called for a State or Federal-backed ‘Air Cargo Support Fund’.
The recommendations form part of a whitepaper following a major national survey of 400 air cargo stakeholders in the public and private sectors undertaken by the organizations, identifying the critical issues and the airports where the challenges are greatest.
The US air cargo industry is facing serious challenges, it is struggling to keep surging volumes flowing through its airports. Many airports are operating close to capacity, but many of the existing facilities are ill-suited to the requirements of modern cargo traffic.
Airports are overwhelmed with the surge in traffic during the peak season, including some of the large gateways, exposing inadequate cargo capacity. As demand is forecast to remain strong, the pressure will only increase in the near future.
A lot of markets are near capacity.
“With airports and airlines experiencing substantial revenue shortfalls over the past two years, the situation is becoming critical with potentially severe impacts on the economy and jobs throughout the country,”Brandon Fried, Executive Director, AfA.
“Because of the lagging financials, airports will be allocating the monies of the Infrastructure Act* to passengers, security, and safety, leaving insufficient funds to sustain air cargo operations.
“Additional funding, specifically dedicated to air cargo, is urgently needed.”
As per the whitepaper, called Safeguarding the future of air cargo: its economic importance and critical need for investment, the negative fallout from a lack of investment could include job losses, as well as delays to shipping time-sensitive products by air, and higher costs to all elements of the logistics chain from shipper to buyer.
“The findings in the whitepaper demonstrate major concern from both NCBFAA and AfA members,”Donna Mullins, Vice President, Kale Info Solutions, and Air Freight Subcommittee Chair, NCBFAA
“We have worked hard to present clear recommendations but these will come at a cost and it is vital that the USD25 billion that airports will receive by way of the Infrastructure Act is allocated across all areas of airport development.”
The recommendations include implementing airport community systems, encouraging better recruitment and retention through improved compensation packages, and a new industry-wide training program.
Failure by the US legislature to act on its recommendations, said the whitepaper, risked: escalating costs for modernization of airport facilities and infrastructure; continued adverse environmental impacts; industry consolidations and overall job loss; higher costs to all elements of the logistics chain from shipper to buyer; and a continued inability to meet anomalous challenges, such as the global pandemic.
*The Infrastructure Act is a US bill which includes the largest federal investment in public transit in history. The bill includes spending figures of USD105 billion dollars in public transport. Airports received USD25 billion in the Bill, without any specific allocation or requirement that funds be used for air cargo area development.