The pandemic has not only disrupted and shaken the air freight industry to the core, it has also hit cargo organizations and associations. They were forced to rapidly redefine their
strategy and visions as pre-corona plans turned to ash.
TIACA leaders, Steven Polmans and Vladimir Zubkov, illustrate in this guest contribution how The International Air Cargo Association (TIACA) had to realign its aims and processes.
New roadmap needed
The least we can say is that what we thought we would do in 2020 and what we are doing are quite different.
After our last Executive Summit in Budapest in November 2019, the Board established a strategy and roadmap for 2020 centered around the need to modernize TIACA: defining its governance and strategic focus and getting closer to our members. Our plan was to further develop the newly launched Sustainability program, enhance and roll-out the CSQ service, develop a joint ICAO-TIACA training on the Safe Supply Chain, organize the first Air Cargo Forum in Miami with Messe München, organize new TIACA4Cargo events, and support partners’ events such as Air Cargo India, Air Cargo China, and Routes, to raise the profile of cargo.
However, just as in every other company organization or for individuals in every sector of the economy, our 2020 plans were shaken up.
From reactive to proactive
As the industry was experiencing an unprecedented economic hit, TIACA did what many others do in such circumstances - we reprioritized our focus:
- TIACA has joined the “ICAO Technical group on joint actions related to COVID-19” to draw attention both to the fundamental role that air cargo plays, and to the need to protect its continued existence and vitality. We urged governments to facilitate entry, departure, and transit of aircraft engaged in relief flights, and to implement all measures to facilitate the receipt of aid, including overflight and landing rights and necessary privileges and immunities for relief units.
- The Board set up a crisis Task Force to look at the budget, priorities, strengths, and weaknesses of TIACA. Conscious that the industry will be different after COVID-19, the Board decided to accelerate the transformation of the association: vision, mission, strategic focus, governance, delivery model, to be in line with members’ and the industry’s expectations.
- Proactively, learning from the early days of the pandemic and the logistics challenges of delivering PPEs all over the world, we partnered with Pharma.Aero to support our industry in being ready for the next biggest ever logistics challenge: handling, storing, and safely and efficiently transporting the future COVID-19 vaccines. In August, we launched project Sunrays, which aims at shining a light on the shippers’ requirements and vaccines specifications for the air cargo industry to prepare for and excel in.
Managing change while maintaining business continuity
TIACA is transitioning: work is now being undertaken to modernize our governance with the objectives of bringing more diversity, transparency, and agility into our decision process and better serving our members and the industry. We redefined our vision for the air cargo industry, our mission, strategic focus, and our values: courage, inclusiveness, teamwork, and integrity. We have also decided to insource one of our core activities: communication and outreach, so we are investing in tools and training, and working on a revamped website and new digital publications such as our monthly newsletter, Cargo Pulse.
On way to becoming truly global
While transformation is on-going, it is also important to stick to our promise and be closer to our members and maintain business continuity. We carried out a survey amongst our members to establish what they need and expect from their association, we are organizing members-only webinars to have two-way dialogue with our members, and have launched a Trustee Connect monthly newsletter to inform our voting members on the activities, plans, and progress of TIACA. At the same time, via regional webinars and initiatives with partners such as ICAO and AFRAA, we also try to get a bigger footprint in regions we have not been very active in in the past, and to become truly global.
Together with ICAO and SASI, we have developed a Safe Supply Chain training course to address current safety issues in the air cargo supply chain. The first virtual classroom is scheduled for 20 to 23 October. Additional dates will be proposed in a virtual set-up and in a traditional classroom format when the situation allows.
We believe sustainability is more relevant than ever. We are organizing the second edition of the Air Cargo Sustainability Awards, with the support of CHAMP Cargosystems, as rewarding innovative projects is a positive message in this gloomy environment. It is key to advancing the conversation on how to sustainably transform air cargo to be ready to support individual companies when they are ready to listen. This is why we are running a series of Sustainability4Cargo webinars and discussing with industry partners like ACI, FIATA, IATA on how to join forces.
TIACA is facing huge new tasks
The upcoming months are going to be intense and challenging, and we are committed to helping our members and the rest of the industry come out of this crisis stronger. With no doubt in the months to come, the air cargo industry will continue its focus on preparing for the COVID-19 vaccine transportation, advancing sustainability goals, investing in digitization and continue innovating. Digitization and innovation will be very high on our agenda in the near future. The new TIACA will be there to support the industry and we are personally looking forward to being a part of this.
This guest article is co-authored by Steven Polmans, Chair, TIACA, and Vladimir Zubkov, Special Advisor to the Board on Industry Affairs, TIACA