Sustainability, digitalisation & safety in focus at IATA WCS

"The 58 million tonnes of air cargo delivered in 2023 accounted for 35% of the value of goods traded internationally."

Sustainability, digitalisation & safety in focus at IATA WCS

Brendan Sullivan, Global Head of Cargo, IATA

Listen to this Article

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) reviewed progress in digitalisation, safety and sustainability at the opening of the IATA World Cargo Symposium with the aim of accelerating progress on these critical priorities.

“Air cargo volumes are now firmly back to pre-pandemic levels," Brendan Sullivan, Global Head of Cargo, IATA said at the World Cargo Symposium (WCS), which opened in Hong Kong today. "The challenge now is to ensure that air cargo growth is efficient, safe and aligned with achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Through the hard work of the air cargo industry, the building blocks are in place to significantly accelerate progress in all these areas.

"In extraordinary circumstances this is clearly visible. During the pandemic, collectively we brought medical supplies and vaccines to where they were needed. Air cargo delivers humanitarian aid in the wake of natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods. And today it is a vital alternative to Red Sea shipping lanes that face geopolitical disruptions.

"In addition, each and every day our industry delivers goods that keep the global economy moving. The 58 million tonnes of air cargo delivered in 2023 accounted for 35 percent of the value of goods traded internationally. That supports jobs the world over. And it is critical to our success in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals—in particular reducing poverty and contributing to sustained and inclusive economic growth."

The biggest opportunity for the air cargo industry is digitalisation, Sullivan added. "This has not happened as fast as any of us would have liked. But progress is real. Inefficient paper-based, manual processes are being replaced with digital solutions in all aspects of cargo operations from tracking to customs clearance. That’s a fact. And it’s making international trade more efficient. Our call to action is clear: Governments must consistently implement global standards, supply chain partners need to collaborate to overcome shared challenges, and the entire industry must align to ensure a unified and effective approach to digitalisation."

“Safety is critical to air cargo’s success. Last year the industry’s safety record reached new heights. Among the 38 million flights in 2023 there were 30 accidents, just one of which was fatal. A good safety record is earned every day. For air cargo that means continuing to put special emphasis on the handling of dangerous goods, and in particular lithium batteries,” said Sullivan.

Four areas were noted with respect to the safe transport of lithium batteries:

*A test standard for fire retardant shipping containers is ready for approval.

*Over 90 airlines are now sharing dangerous goods incident data through the IATA Global Aviation Data Management (GADM) programme.

*Guidance was published for operators to recognise and mitigate the risks from inexperienced e-commerce shippers using the postal system.

*An update to Annex 18 of the Chicago Convention clarifying responsibilities for the handling of dangerous goods and their effective regulation is now ready for global adoption by states."

Airlines and shippers have given strong demand signals for sustainable aviation fFuel (SAF), which are expected to account for some 65 percent of the needed mitigation to achieve net zero carbon emissions in 2050.

“There is no shortage of demand signals from airlines and shippers to use SAF," said Sullivan. "The problem remains a shortage of supply. As we saw with the introduction of solar and wind generation for electricity, production incentives are the way forward. Japan is a good example. The government has put a 10 percent production mandate on fuel suppliers. Singapore has also recently taken steps to create a sustainable air hub with a view to foster SAF production and use. The U.S. is another with tax credits embedded in the Inflation Reduction Act that are resulting in increased production. We need more governments to follow these positive examples.

"I will mention recent highlights demonstrating the industry’s strong demand for SAF:

*Virgin Atlantic completed the first transatlantic flight powered entirely by SAF, transporting a Kuehne+Nagel shipment.

*Cargolux and Norwegian Air Shuttle have concluded firm SAF forward purchase agreements with Nork e-fuel - yet another strong demand signal from airlines.

*Cathay Pacific also partnered with nine corporate customers through its corporate SAF programme to accelerate SAF adoption and convey a signal of firm demand for SAF from multi-sectoral players; and

*Cathay Pacific is also the co-initiator of the Hong Kong Sustainable Aviation Fuel Coalition (HKSAFC), seeking to grow Hong Kong as a regional SAF hub."

Target Net Zero....
“For any industry to survive, change is essential. And constant change for anyone is never easy. But it is absolutely worth it when that change delivers 60 million tonnes of cargo that powers economies, improves peoples’ lives and genuinely makes our world a better place. And that is what inspires us to make our industry more efficient, ever safer and on target for net zero carbon emissions by 2050,” said Sullivan.

Read Full Article
Next Story
Share it