“Congratulations, Brendan, I wish you every success. A great choice for the leading the IATA cargo team into the next chapter for the air cargo industry,” were Glyn Hughes’ warm wishes to Brendan Sullivan on LinkedIn, following the announcement of his appointment as IATA’s Head of Cargo last week. The industry finally received an answer to the question that had been open since Glyn Hughes stepped down and moved to TIACA at the start of this year: “Who will take his place?”
Judging by all the other positive reactions to the news, the choice is a highly welcome one. With almost two decades of cargo experience including over 13 years with IATA, Brendan Sullivan has the network, the experience, and the foundation to continue to ensure and enhance cargo’s position within the association. CargoForwarder Global interviewed the Canadian national on his plans and visions.
CFG: What are your plans and top priorities in your new position?
BS: Air cargo has been a bright spot for the aviation industry in a very challenging time, and it has continually demonstrated just how effective it can be when we come together around a common objective. Building on this momentum is critical. IATA’s top three priorities for the industry and focus will be safety and security, digitalization, and sustainability:
- Safety and security: in particular but not limited to the lithium battery challenge, where governments must address the threat from undeclared dangerous goods in cargo and mail.
- Digitalization: with speed as this underpins many other key initiatives such as safe and efficient borders, seamless operations, and quality of the supply chain.
- Sustainability: we are committed to addressing sustainability challenges, meeting our sustainability targets, and seeing if we can do more. This includes the energy transition to sustainable aviation fuels, which is taking longer than we would like and the electrification of ramp vehicles. We are committed to putting sustainability at the core of everything we do, from standards to partnerships focusing on people and the planet.
We will also continue to focus on improving quality across the supply chain using programs such as the Center of Excellence for Independent Validators (CEIV), and Smart Facility Operational Capacity (SFOC), to ensure we do not lose focus on quality. For each of those areas, we have dedicated work plans which we need to continue to deliver on with and for our members. We also intend to continue to strengthen partnerships and focus on delivering the mandate set by our members. And we will continue to focus on the distribution of vaccines and related medical supplies as just one way of how air cargo is contributing to help aviation restart and support the global community.
CFG: What happens to e-commerce now? [Brendan Sullivan’s previous title included e-commerce next to cargo]
BS: e-commerce is essentially an unstoppable paradigm shift for air cargo and a not to be missed opportunity. With e-commerce set to reach 20% of air cargo shipments by 2022, it clearly remains a priority for IATA and the industry. To serve the e-commerce segment, air cargo will need to continue to digitalize and focus on the services they can offer: The greater the level of digitization, the stronger the resilience should another shock occur.
CFG: How will you ensure that IATA activities align with those of like-minded institutions (e.g., TIACA, Parma.aero, ULD Care)?
BS: Collaboration is critical to the success of our industry. We will continue to strengthen our partnerships. We have MoUs with some key organizations and may look to others to help us develop work plans that are aligned and deliver even more for the industry. As we have demonstrated during the pandemic, this industry is very agile and works best when united around common objectives, such as supporting the global community during the pandemic, delivering vital goods around the world.
CFG: How certain are you that the WCS will physically take place in OCT21? And/or will there be virtual summits (additionally) going forward post-pandemic?
BS: Sadly, I do not have a crystal ball to be in a position to accurately predict the future. However, looking at the number of countries with relaxations in travel restrictions,
the vaccine rollout progress, and the desire when I speak to the industry to meet face to face, I am quite confident that we will be in a position to go forward with a face-to-face event that
delivers what WCS always delivers. That is, an agenda and content that is captivating and insightful, networking opportunities to connect with colleagues and business partners.
I believe the “virtual” elements of events are here to stay. In fact, they can be quite an excellent way to help increase the reach of a message. Our next WCS will include virtual elements and I expect them to continue to add value in future events.
Thank you for the interview, Brendan Sullivan, and congratulations on your new position!
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