Tyler’s ringing remarks will serve the air cargo industry well considering it has a long way to go
The International Air Transport Association (Iata) has said shippers’ rating of the air cargo industry was not good enough and called on cargo operators to continue improving services for greater customer satisfaction.
Its director general and CEO, Tony Tyler, reminded the World Cargo Symposium in Germany that compared to other modes of shipping, air cargo is a premium service. “Yet shippers give the industry a satisfaction rating of only seven out of 10 on average. That is not good enough. The industry must raise the service quality of air cargo and provide a more personalised customer service,” he said.
While noting that developments such as e-tickets, bar-coded boarding passes, airport self-check-in kiosks and inflight Wi-Fi had transformed the passenger experience, the need was to have similar efficiencies on the cargo side of the business.
Tyler specifically recommended that the industry increase the pace of adoption of the e-Air Waybill (e-AWB) and improve quality of service for time- and temperature-controlled shipments, especially pharmaceuticals.
Iata has been engaging with governments and airports as well as industry players in order to achieve targeted initiatives, said Tyler.
“The value of air cargo is so great because it is a team effort. Only if the different participants in the air cargo value chain pull together behind a common vision will the industry thrive in the coming decades. If the air cargo business can stay focused on the customer, delivering a reliable, high-quality service at a competitive price, and build on the speed and flexibility for which air freight is renowned, then this business will not only survive but prosper.”
He also commented on the need to resolve issues around the shipping of lithium-ion batteries. In February 2016 the International Civil Aviation Organisation temporarily banned shipments of lithium-ion batteries as cargo on passenger flights, pending the development of a fire-resistant packaging standard. Safety concerns arise from several areas: irregular manufacture, mislabelling and improper packing as well as non-compliance with dangerous goods regulations and the Iata Lithium Battery Shipping Guidelines.
“Safety is the top priority. Banning lithium-ion batteries from air freight does not solve the issue of counterfeit or non-declared goods. The issue lies with the lack of enforcement of the regulations by governments. So it is essential that authorities redouble their efforts to enforce regulations and close loopholes that prevent prosecutions of serial offenders,” he said.
The global air cargo sector continues to face a difficult business environment, and the weak growth experienced since 2010 continued in 2015 with a 1.9 per cent expansion of volumes. Additionally, yields have contracted each year since 2012, said a statement from Iata.
The association estimates that volume growth will increase to 3.0 per cent in 2016. Under pressure from integrators, competing modes of transport (land and sea) and increased cargo capacity in the passenger fleet, yields are expected to fall a further 5.5 per cent in 2016, it added.