Leading industry groups unite, swing into action

Four key global voices of the air cargo industry have united under an agreement to form a collective advisory group and a unified voice for changes in the industry, known as the Global Air Cargo Advisory Group (GACAG) and have quickly come out with an action plan on security.

Jean-Claude Delen, president of the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Association; Michael Steen, the International Air Cargo Association’s (TIACA) vice chairman; and Des Vertannes of the International Air Transport Association signed a letter of intent at TIACA’s Air Cargo Forum conference in Amsterdam in early November that establishes an alliance between the separate groups. The Global Shippers’Forum is also part of the agreement, which will be facilitated by representatives from TIACA. The formation of the alliance followed the shocking revelation only a day earlier of the attempted bombing of cargo aircraft by the Yemen-based branch of Al Qaeda, which sparked immediate fears of a knee-jerk reaction amongst governments and aviation regulators world-wide. The group quickly swung into action, releasing a statement following meetings in December outlining its strategy regarding security. In the statement the group said it will focus its efforts to enhance the security of the air cargo supply chain, which it defined as “all components of the transportation chain from shipper to consignee.” But it cautioned that all efforts to enhance the supply chain “must be done in a manner that results in the minimum possible disruption to the vital flow of commerce.” “This will require a global push by the air cargo industry and the relevant authorities to improve risk assessment, tighten standard air cargo supply chain processes, develop viable technology for the air cargo environment, and improve compliance.” “There’s been a lot of talk, I know, about whether or not we are a united industry, and I hope that the conclusion of this agreement this morning will dispel the fears that we are disjointed,” Vertannes said before the signing. “We always will share common goals, and I think that this is evidence that we are collaborating to move a key industry agenda forward.” The agreement commits TIACA, GSF, FIATA and IATA to work together to look at their current positions on issues such as security, customs reform, e-Commerce, and the environment and to try to find common ground to best protect and promote the interests of the air cargo industry, the organisations and its customers. The review will also look at the associations’respective resources committed to industry affairs and consider how to make the most effective use of the existing and growing relationships the four groups have with relevant government departments and other regulatory bodies. The associations will also discuss the involvement of other global industry groups in the air cargo supply chain and seek the support of bodies such as the World Customs Organisation (WCO). Speaking of the agreement, Michael Steen said: “TIACA, GSF, FIATA and IATA will continue to operate as they do today in terms of how they support their respective memberships. This initiative is to look at how we can combine our respective strengths, contacts and resources in the area of regulatory affairs. We are delighted that both FIATA and IATA have so readily committed to this important initiative for our industry, and that GSF has joined this effort. We all hope for a positive outcome over the next few months. “Collectively we represent the most powerful grouping of all parties involved in the air cargo supply chain. We all share a common goal to protect our members against costly and sometimes unnecessary changes in legislation and to have a practical input into any future regulatory challenges before they become mandatory. “We also want to have the strongest possible voice when it comes to highlighting to policy makers the vital role air cargo plays in world trade, in employment, in consumer choice and in the growth of developing markets.” GACAG members plan to expand engagement with relevant authorities in order to address the recent security developments and will be putting forth the following recommendations: • Government-industry cooperation should be a fundamental principle of cargo security decision-making and lines of communication must remain open at all times; • Supply chain security should be at the heart of any regulatory approach; • Governments should establish mechanisms to mutually recognize comparable supply chain security regimes by their trading partners; • ICAO should be the global focal point for collaboration on cargo screening requirements and both governments and industry should be part of the ongoing dialogue; • ICAO should set global definitions and standards for air cargo security, including the definition of what constitutes “higher risk cargo,” and must do so on an expedited basis; • National and regional regulators should adopt ICAO definitions and standards on an urgent timetable; • Protocols for transferred cargo should take into account screening that was performed prior to the original flight; • Industry and government should follow the international standard set by the World Customs Organisation on advance cargo information to facilitate risk-assessment; and • Industry and government should jointly develop and endorse a standard electronic cargo security declaration process and its associated paper layout.