During the first week of this month the International Civil Aviation Organisation, better known as ICAO, held their transport symposium in Seoul, Korea. A part of the conference was dedicated to relevant air cargo industry subjects. TIACA’s Secretary General, Vladimir Zubkov attended the conference and was impressed that this was the first time that ICAO had cargo as a dedicated theme at one of their conferences.
Cargo panel chaired by Zubkov
The cargo panel was made up of various industry experts including those from UPS and Chinese supply chain specialists.
They were able to voice their opinions and concerns to the more than 500 delegates at the ICAO conference, many of whom are major decision makers in present and future aviation strategy areas.
Mr Zubkov and his panel members made a point of stressing the important role that air cargo plays in ensuring what they termed as the competitiveness and commercial success of many industries across the globe. The success of the air cargo transport is, they informed their listeners essential especially for companies who produce high value IT and electrical components, perishable and pharmaceutical products and many other items which demand fast, safe and reliable transport modes tied in with flawless supply chain set-ups.
The audience was given an insight by the panel into the volatility of the air cargo market and the so called vulnerability of all-cargo operations which in TIACA management’s view often turn out as unwelcome bargaining issues during various bilateral negotiations. The panel also stressed the fact that many of the traditional aviation agreements give air cargo operators limited freedoms compared to their passenger colleagues.
ICAO supports cargo liberalisation
Mr Zubkov reports that many at the conference were surprised to hear ICAO state that they have now taken the initiative to “develop a specific international agreement that would facilitate further liberalisation of air cargo services and provide operational flexibility to ensure that air cargo services respond efficiently to market demands including e-commerce.”
Quite a statement! But it seems that there are internal elements in ICAO who are of differing opinions as to how an international agreement should be formulated. They need to get this issue off the table in order that the momentum of such a move is not slowed or disappears altogether.
Despite having had the chance to air views on cargo issues, Mr Zubkov and his cargo panel members came away from the conference with the sad knowledge that ‘the level of awareness within the air transport industry of the importance of air cargo and constraints which impose limitations on its development and financial success is still relatively low.’
Still a lot to do in this field. But thanks to TIACA’s continued involvement, maybe a breakthrough will come sooner than later!
John Mc Donagh