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SINGAPORE: March 12, 2019. At the opening of IATA’s 13th World Air Cargo Symposium this week, director general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac said he was worried the industry still hadn’t met customer expectations despite the availability of technology to improve data visibility and speed up the time to market.

Addressing the audience of air cargo executives he said: “I doubt that anyone in this room can raise their hand and truthfully say that air cargo as a whole is ahead of the curve on innovation with speed.”

13th WCS Singapore Alexandre de JuniacNoting that despite a decade of effort to use a digital airwaybill its adoption is still only 61 percent he continued: “We started talking about e-AWB when Nokia and Motorola were on top of the cell phone market. Blackberry phones came and went. And smart phones in general have revolutionized our lives in little more than a decade. How much has the air cargo world changed over the same time period?”

Acknowledging that “it is exceptionally tough” to drive change in a global industry with a huge number of stakeholders and where safety is top priority, he declared it wasn’t “mission impossible” for his audience of industry leaders. “Taking years to develop a standard and then years more to implement it is not a winning proposition”.

Commenting on “rogue shippers” who ignore IATA dangerous goods regulations to ship lithium batteries he added: “In some cases, we see more effort going into stopping counterfeit production of Louis Vuitton bags than lithium batteries. Both need attention. But lithium batteries are a safety risk. And we need governments to do better at enforcement.”

Calling on attendees to find ways of driving the digital agenda with much greater speed, de Juniac said governments should deploy and enforce the global standards needed to operate safe and efficient businesses, to abandon protectionist temptations, and to keep borders open to people and to trade.

“Nothing should stand in the way of air cargo delivering its unique contribution to the prosperity of our world. It is an integral part of the business of freedom,” he declared.

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