My thoughts are prompted by the opening next week of one of the most important civil aviation events which is taking place every three years – the ICAO Assembly. Dangerous goods, regulatory challenges, aviation security issues, environmental agreements – these are only a sample of items on which the delegates from all over the world – Ministers, Directors of Civil Aviation and their associates will be taking decision.
Where are we, the air cargo supply chain laborers, in this process?
Let me step aside and invite you to recall one of the surveys which were sent to TIACA members soliciting views on what should be the priorities of our Organization. Many of you felt very strongly that the Board and the Secretariat should dynamically represent the views of the TIACA members when meeting with the Regulators and participating at the industry events. This priority is on the TIACA’s website; it’s called “Advocacy”, and is considered now as one of the pillars in TIACA’s work program.
To succeed in advocacy you need strong ties with those who decide on standards and regulations, those who define such categories as Regulated Agents and Trusted shippers, dictate whether we carry lithium batteries or not, create the regulatory framework for e-freight, etc.
Four years ago I invited the then Chairman of TIACA Board Michael Steen to spend a day on the golf course with my friend and then ICAO President Roberto Kobeh. The acquaintance and extensive discussions led to better understanding of the importance of the organization representing the air cargo supply chain, and soon the mutual recognition resulted in the Declaration of intent to strengthen cooperation between ICAO and TIACA. The successors of Michael in this chair: Oliver Evans and Sanjiv Edward, with the most direct and energetic involvement of Doug Brittin, continued developing cooperative links with ICAO, established the new ones with WCO, and accomplishing all this without losing sight of the objectives of GACAG, where we work together with our closest industry partners: IATA, International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations (FIATA) and Global Shippers' Forum (GSF).
TIACA is coming to the Assembly with one working paper on the lithium batteries. We are advising the Assembly that any regulations on air carriage of lithium batteries should be global in nature, so that the participants of the cargo supply chain can comply with a common standard, rather than having to adjust their operations to differing regulations across the world leading to operational inefficiencies and confusion, to the detriment of safety.
To think through and to write a paper, deserving presentation at a major ICAO meeting, on any subject is a time consuming process which requires several industry experts to invest their efforts in it. That’s probably why we are coming to the Assembly with only one paper and will have to make up for the lack of the written presentations by more intensive discussions on the floor, sharing views with the participants at the social events and by taking follow up actions when the Assembly is over after almost two weeks of solid deliberations.
I would like to invite all of the air cargo industry to actively participate in the very important process of working with the regulatory leaders.