“Air cargo is a different industry than the one that entered the pandemic. Revenues are greater than they were pre-pandemic. Yields are higher. The world learned how critical supply chains are. And the contribution of air cargo to the bottom line of airlines is more evident than ever. Yet, we are still linked to the business cycle and global events. So, the war in Ukraine, uncertainty over where critical economic factors like interest rates, exchange rates and jobs growth are concerns that are real to the industry today. As we navigate the current situation, air cargo’s priorities have not changed, we need to continue to focus on sustainability, digitalization, and safety,” said Brendan Sullivan, the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) Global head of cargo, at the 16th World Cargo Symposium which held in Instabul, Turkey.
He highlighted three priorities to enable the air cargo industry to maintain momentum against the backdrop of a challenging operating environment. These priorities are; Sustainability, Digitalisation and Safety.
On sustainability, Sulivan noted that it is a critical priority and the aviation industry’s license to do business. At the 41st ICAO Assembly, governments agreed to the Long-Term Aspirational Goal (LTAG) of net zero carbon emissions by 2050, in line with the industry’s commitment adopted in 2021.
Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) is critical to achieving this goal, 65% of carbon abatement will come from SAF, however, production levels remain challenging. IATA called for government incentives for production.
“SAF is being produced. And every single drop is being used. The problem is that the quantities are small. The solution is government policy incentives. Through incentivizing production, we could see 30 billion liters of SAF available by 2030. That will still be far from where we need to be. But it would be a clear tipping point towards our net zero ambition of ample SAF quantities at affordable prices,” said Sullivan.
IATA outlined three other areas where it was working to support the energy transition of the industry, these areas include; Supporting effective carbon calculations and offsetting, Expanding the IATA Environmental Assessment and Developing environmental, social and governance (ESG) related metrics.
Sulivan further discussed digitalization stating that air cargo needs to continuously improve its efficiency. The area with greatest potential is digitalization. IATA outline goals such as: 100% airline capability of ONE Record by January 2026, ensuring digital standards are in place to support the global supply chain and ensuring compliance and support for customs, trade facilitation and other government processes that are increasingly digitalized.
Finally Sulivan stated that “Alongside sustainability and efficiency is safety. The agenda for air cargo continues to be dominated by lithium batteries. A lot has been done. But, quite honestly, it is still not enough,”
The three safety priorities outlined by IATA for air cargo are: Stopping rogue shippers, Accelerating the development of a test standard for fire-resistant aircraft containers with a fire involving lithium batteries and Ensuring recognition from governments.
Value of Air Cargo
“Air cargo is a critically important industry. It helps build a better future for the people of the world. It’s an industry that saves lives, delivering aid and relief to those in need. The industry mobilized to support those affected by the earthquakes in Syria and Türkiye. Working together to ensure that air cargo remains a reliable and efficient means of providing support to those in need, while simultaneously strengthening our global supply chains and contributing to the sustainable development of our economies is essential,” concluded Sullivan.