What is the outlook for air cargo going into 2014?
Moderate growth but no substantial upturn. Obviously, some markets will make faster gains than others. We are starting to see some sustainability in the small rate of growth and that is welcome. However, the market expects to see a continued downward pressure on yield. This is a both short- and long-term concern because as an industry, we have to continue to invest in key areas such as modern aircraft fleets, e-commerce, security, compliance and training as well as development. With 35% of world trade by value moving by air, global and regional businesses and consumers need our industry to continue to grow and prosper in order to fulfill its vital role.
What are TIACA’s priorities in the year ahead?
We want to be the platform leader for the air cargo industry on all key issues: safety, security, market access, customs and trade facilitation, e-commerce and the environment.
We want to continue to grow our membership globally, especially with small and mid-size companies representing regional interests. We will be increasing our collaboration with various government and regulatory bodies, such as ICAO, the World Customs Organization and the US Department of Homeland Security, among others.
What structural reforms would you like to see?
The key is collaboration.
Governments must first recognise the vital role our industry plays in national and international economic development and employment and then understand the importance of engaging with us as part of the legislative process. There also needs to be much more cross-government co-ordination and global standards development on areas such as air cargo security and aviation emissions. We do not want countries or economic trading blocs creating and enforcing unilateral standards.
What is your response to the ICAO agreement on aviation climate emissions?
We see it as a major breakthrough in the development of global standards for the industry, and urge ICAO and its member states to ensure they complete the technical work on this leading up to the next ICAO General Assembly in 2016 so we can achieve the ultimate goal of an aviation carbon neutral growth strategy by 2020. Getting 191 countries to agree to develop a global market-based measure for emissions is a hugely important milestone, but there is now a great deal of work to be done by each nation.
What new technology has had the biggest impact on the air cargo industry in the past decade?
The expansion of cargo screening technology is one area that stands out. It is actually more interesting to look at how technology is going to improve what we do going forward. The e-freight and e-AWB initiatives are already completely removing paper from some air cargo supply chains and there is a groundswell of support for this, driven by the potential gains in efficiency and cost reduction. Technology is now critical to the air cargo industry. Without it, air cargo will lose its key differentiator: speed. Today, we need to move information even faster to allow for advance analysis of data as part of the air cargo security process, for example, and that relies on efficient technology.
What were your highs and lows of 2013?
The biggest highlight for TIACA is the growing collaboration with industry regulators, such as the agreement to solidify our co-operation with ICAO and the WCO. We would have liked to have seen a higher rate of growth for the industry in 2013, but nonetheless, we have seen a steady level of improvement and we expect that to continue.