IATA and Other Associations Demand Stiff Penalties for Faulty Lithium Battery Shippers

In a joint appeal to governments, transport associations, airlines together with lithium battery manufacturers are calling for stricter enforcement and stiffer penalties to be imposed on those who knowingly circumvent international regulations regarding the transport of lithium batteries.

The International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) letter published today underlines anew the urgency of taking measures to improve the safety of lithium-ion battery air transports. And this for good reason as many fires on board aircraft caused by rechargeable batteries demonstrate. “Lithium batteries pose a significant safety threat to air transportation,” Mark Rogers, head of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), the largest flight-crew union in North America recently stated in a stern warning, demanding a safety framework to be set up and imposed by the authorities to minimize risks for crews, passengers and aircraft.

Rogue lithium battery shippers should be jailed
In today’s joint appeal, addressed to governmental bodies, IATA, the U.S. Rechargeable Battery Association (PRBA), RECHARGE, the European Advanced Rechargeable and Lithium Battery Association, the Global Shippers Forum (GSF) and the International Air Cargo Association (TIACA) call for significant fines and custodial sentences to be imposed on those who knowingly circumvent the existing regulations.

Enforcing existing rules
"Airlines, shippers and manufacturers have worked hard to establish rules that ensure lithium batteries can be carried safely. But the rules are only effective if they are enforced and backed-up by significant penalties,” said Tony Tyler IATA’s Director General and CEO. He went on to say: “Government authorities must step up and take responsibility for regulating rogue producers and exporters. And flagrant abuses of dangerous goods shipping regulations, which place aircraft and passenger safety at risk, must be criminalized."
This is supported by George Kerchner, PRBA’s Executive Director: "The actions of a minority threaten to undermine confidence in legitimate battery and product manufacturers. This a matter of deep concern for our members."
PRBA represents most of the world’s largest manufacturers of lithium ion and lithium metal batteries and manufacturers of products powered by these batteries.

Banning lithium batteries from aircraft ups costs…
In the past, IATA and the PRBA have repeatedly called upon governments to address the danger posed by the willful disregard of the international regulations by rogue manufacturers and shippers and to close existing legal loopholes that prevent prosecutions of serial offenders. Lack of enforcement is increasing pressure on airlines and regulators to unilaterally ban all forms of lithium battery shipments from aircraft. This would add to the cost of global supply chains and consumer goods, and encourage those who flout the law to increase mislabeling of batteries, further increasing safety and security risks.

…and put lives at risk
"A ban on the shipment of lithium ion batteries aboard aircraft would put lives at risk by slowing delivery of life-critical and life-enhancing medical equipment and jeopardize the security of many countries because a large number of military applications are powered by lithium batteries," Kerchner emphasizes in the joint appeal.

Heiner Siegmund

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