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IATA Global Head of Cargo speaks about challenges and aspirations at World Cargo Symposium 2022

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The World Cargo Symposium 2022 is currently being held in London, UK, and the International Air Transport Association (IATA)’s Global Head of Cargo, Brendan Sullivan talked about the challenges and aspirations of the global air cargo industry while speaking at the event.

He started by highlighting how the world realised the importance of air cargo during the COVID crisis, and that it was not only a life saver but also a commercial lifeline during that time. Adding on, he mentioned that in 2021, air cargo revenues were $204 billion. That’s over 40% of total industry revenues— well up from the pre-crisis levels of 12-15%. There were several challenges that he mentioned in his address to the participants of the Symposium, yet he did not fail to show the silver lining of positive developments.

While the roadblocks that the air cargo industry faces include the Russo-Ukrainian war, steeply rising jet fuel prices and inflation caused by global economic volatility, the factors that could further the growth of the air cargo industry were deemed to be the easing of COVID-related restrictions around the world, growth of e-commerce, passenger traffic rebound leading to increase in available belly capacity, and the resistance of high-value specialised cargo against economic uncertainty.

The World Cargo Symposium 2022 will be focusing on four key areas –

  • Commitment to achieving Net Zero by 2050:
    • increasing usage of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF),
    • application of new technologies like hydrogen & electric propulsion,
    • offsets & carbon capturing,
    • efficient operations & infrastructure
  • Modernisation and Efficiency:
    • ONE Record standard is being integrated into CASS 2.0 for better global visibility of shipments
    • Common framework of IATA Interactive Cargo Guidance to help monitor the quality and accuracy of conditions of time and temperature-sensitive goods
    • More efficient regulatory framework for international shipments
  • Safety:
    • Improved handling of livestock as well as dangerous cargo
    • Better handling of Lithium batteries onboard with CEIV Lithium Batteries
    • Improving compliance
    • Increased manpower training
  • People:
    • Accelerated clearance processes by governments, as a short time solution to skills shortage
    • Improvisation in terms of attracting, onboarding, and retaining talent, as a long term solution
    • The Future Air Cargo Executive (FACE) program 
    • Aiming to increase female participation across the industry via IATA25

“There is real and hard work ahead for all of us. And global economic and political developments could well make the going even tougher. But it will be nothing compared to what we have been through with COVID-19. And there is much to motivate us.”

~ Brendan Sullivan, IATA Global Head of Air Cargo

Sullivan’s address emphasised on many points across the 4 key areas of improvement, and sustainable aviation fuel was on the top as far as sustainability is concerned. It was acknowledged that a major challenge right now was the production capacity of SAF, however, with appropriate coordination between the government and the air cargo industry, we could see 30 billion litres of SAF by 2030. “And that would be a clear tipping point towards our net zero ambition of ample SAF quantities at affordable prices,” the Global Head of Cargo said.

A major new trial of a standardised and specialised methodology for carbon calculation of cargo shipments was also announced at the Symposium, with a view to launching a CO2 calculator for air cargo in 2023.

There was also a segment of his speech pertaining to the modernisation of the industry, which reflected the rapidly increasing/changing customer expectations. In a high-spirited statement, Sullivan said, “The challenges of the COVID crisis gave us confidence that we can change and adapt fast. We need to use that confidence to get us even closer to the expectations for modernisation that our customers have. And we need to be true to air cargo’s USP and move even faster!”

Sullivan concluded his speech by saying that there is no greater motivation than knowing concretely that with every shipment delivered, they help people to live better lives and secure better futures.

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