Although it seems that the air cargo business continues to face a downturn which is often attributed to the ongoing trade war initiated by the U.S. government under Donald Trump’s directive - the drive to improve the efficiency of air cargo handling continues unabated.
IATA launches their new programme
Towards the end of last week IATA stepped in with their new programme aimed at ‘raising global standards in cargo handling operations.’
They have named it The Smart Facility Operational Capacity (SFOC) programme whose main aim is to cut down audit complexity and duplication in cargo handling facilities. To keep it as simple as possible, IATA has split their new initiative into two parts.
The first being the ‘Standardized Global Audit Programme’ which with the introduction of the SFOC Audit Certificate, should, they say, give airlines more assurance that SFOC certified facilities are sticking to IATA’s resolutions and Recommended Practices in cargo handling as well as with IATA’s Cargo Handling Manual (ICHM). It is interesting to note that IATA reckons that around 360,000 days are wasted each year with out-of-date cargo handling audits. Their (IATA) aim is to reduce this in the short term by 50% by introducing the SFOC Audit Certification.
The second part of the IATA initiative is their Audit Reduction Commitment (ARC) which is aimed at gaining a pledge from the industry to actually reduce unnecessary audits.
IATA points out that carriers who opt for the SFOC programme will then take part in a gap analysis to find out which of their audit standards will not need to be assessed for SFOC certified
warehouses or other facilities. This IATA says will ensure that ‘the revised audit scope is then defined through the ARC.’
Glyn Hughes, IATA’s Global Head of Cargo is convinced that the new programme will be a success. He commented: “Auditing is critical to ensure the global standards that underpin the safe and efficient operations in the aviation industry.” The SFOC launch partners will be Singapore based handler SATS Ltd as well as Singapore Airlines.
IATA goes head-on against rogue lithium shipments
The association also made it known last week that in partnership with the Global Shippers Forum (GSF) and FIATA, they are increasing their efforts to make sure that lithium battery transport by air really becomes safe. They are together calling on government bodies to crack down hard on those who produce counterfeit lithium batteries as well as having a stricter control on non-compliant shipments and mis-labeling which often leads to lithium batteries being shipped by air but declared otherwise.
It remains to be seen whether IATA, GSF and FIATA’s plea will fall on deaf ears in some regions. However, the concerted move is good seeing that the lithium battery production is growing between 17% - 20% each year and that the number of incidents recorded for undeclared or mis-labeling also continues to rise.
IATA’s new move in this direction involves three distinct initiatives:
- a new incident reporting and alert system for airlines.
- an industry awareness campaign highlighting the dangers involved when lithium batteries are not declared - whether on purpose or not.
- the facilitation of a joined-up industry approach to the dangers involved.
Quite a tough new initiative and one which definitely needs the full support of the industry and government bodies.
John Mc Donagh
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