Iata – Paper is still too patient
The International Air Transport Association (Iata) organised its second e-cargo conference in Geneva (Switzerland) in June. The trade body used the event as an opportunity to call for the formation of strong partnerships so that airfreight, by the deployment of new technologies, becomes more competitive in relation to other modes of transport.
Des Vertannes, Iata global head of cargo, summed up the e-cargo conference that was held in Geneva on 18 and 19 June, by saying: «we are the witnesses of an electronic revolution that is changing logistics and transport and creating a fundamental difference in the fields of airfreight security, efficiency and reliability. Now we have to form strong digital partnerships. In this connection the presence of Fiata’s secretary general, Marco Sorgetti, who presided over the opening meeting, was very welcome.»
The conference’s speakers and discussion participants are predominantly banking on digital possibilities to relieve the industry which has been under a great deal of pressure in recent years (see box). Vertannes warned the almost 200 experts that had gathered in Geneva: «airfreight has to maintain its position in an environment that continues to be difficult. The industry is confronted with sinking load factors and simultaneously rising costs. In order to survive it is vital that our sector works together to ease the introduction of new processes and technologies that improve our ability to compete.»
Iata’s e-freight initiative, which foresees the paperless handling of airfreight shipments, wants to reduce transit times by up to 24 hours and save 7,800 t of forms per year. The deletion of some data entries will boost the efficiency and reliability of shipments, and the regulation authorities, who are keen on having stricter controls over traffic, stand to benefit from a swifter and more precise access to digital data. The electronic airfreight waybill (E-AWB) is the most important prerequisite for a functional e-freight system. However, the market penetration of such a document is only 9% and thus substantially lower than Iata’s intermediate aim of 20% by the end of the year. The multilateral E-AWB, which was announced by Iata and Fiata last March, will provide the process with a strong impetus.
Industry’s margins under pressure
The world’s annual volume of airfreight has only grown by 1.4 million t since 2010, and the Iata 2013 forecast, which sees an increase of 1.5% compared to 2012, is not rosy either. The poor growth rate will result in a 2% drop in yields and earnings (USD 62 billion) will be some USD 4 billion less than in crisis year 2010.