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Air cargo stuck in the 16th Century?

ABU DHABI: March 14, 2017. Speaking at the opening of the 11th World Cargo Symposium, IATA director general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac warned air cargo customers are "increasingly frustrated with complicated and convoluted paper-based processes that belong in the 16th century".

Calling on forwarders and airlines to modernize their business processes in order to deliver higher quality services, de Juniac noted: "A single cargo shipment can require up to 30 pieces of paper. That's a ridiculous and unnecessary waste of resources in our Internet-connected world."

IATA WCS Abu DhabiDe Juniac added that despite a decade of IATA e-freight initiatives, the industry had not even reached a 50 percent rate of adoption for the e-AWB.

"Shippers today want responsive services based on intelligent systems able to self-monitor, send real-time alerts and respond to deviation. Technologically speaking, this is totally possible," he declared. "The key to this and other innovations is using data efficiently and effectively. Finding solutions to unfulfilled (or even unrealized) expectations creates value for customers. And that propels a business forward."

Acknowledging the air cargo industry was meeting at a time of "cautious optimism", de Juniac cited the double-digit growth of eCommerce, a general rise in exports and the "significant opportunity" of a global pharma market expected to be worth US$1.2 trillion by 2022.

"Currently US$12 billion is spent worldwide on cold chain biopharma logistics. By 2020, it is estimated that this will rise to US$16.7 billion," he added.

However de Juniac warned his audience that listening to the customer "has never been more important" because despite the current growth in air cargo volumes, shippers expect more for what they're paying.

"Innovations like amazon, Baidu and Rakuten cut across modern society—with the exception of the air cargo world. Our customers are disappointed in the bureaucracy of our complicated processes," he said.

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