The International Air Cargo Association and the International Civil Aviation Organization, a U.N. standard-setting body for international regulation of the aviation industry, on Thursday cemented their burgeoning relationship by agreeing to regularly consult on security and other issues to advance the air cargo industry.
Officials for the two organizations signed a Declaration of Intent in Dallas during TIACA's annual Executive Summit, which was attended by about 180 people. The memorandum calls on the industry group and ICAO to work more closely on getting governments and companies to automate the transfer of documentation that accompanies each shipment, environmental sustainability, safety, and liberalization of air cargo markets to enable carriers freedom to pursue business without regard to borders.
TIACA represents airlines, logistics companies, ground handlers, motor carriers, shippers, information technology providers and manufacturers involved in air cargo transport. The declaration was signed by TIACA Chairman Michael Steen, the chief commercial officer of Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings, and Boubacar Djibo, director of air ICAO's Air Transport Bureau.
ICAO in recent months has begun to pay more attention to the air cargo sector and integrate it into its overall work promoting the orderly development of the aviation industry among its 191 member states. In March, TIACA representatives for the first time participated in the 6th Air Transport Conference held once per decade. The two organizations last October issued a joint communiqué promising increased collaboration at TIACA's expo in Atlanta. TIACA representatives are already attending relevant ICAO meetings and ICAO officials will now also serve as observers at TIACA conferences and meetings.
TIACA has also provided input into ICAO's Working Group on Air Cargo Security and other deliberations.
“This is another highly significant breakthrough in the new era of collaboration between our industry and leading regulatory bodies," Steen said in a statement. "ICAO is taking a lead in critical areas of aviation, such as security and the environment, and the Secretary General and his team have made a clear point of meeting with us, listening to our views and participating in our events to learn more about the requirements and concerns of the air cargo industry. ICAO clearly sees air cargo as the vital industry that it is and we welcome the opportunity to help this important global standards setter realize its objectives, based on a stronger understanding of the views of our sector.”
TIACA will support ICAO by disseminating information on relevant ICAO standards and recommended practices, policies and technical guidance to its members. One of its goals is to use ICAO's institutional ties to further develop relationships with U.N. specialized agencies, regional civil aviation bodies and economic development organizations.
At a press conference following the signing ceremony, ICAO's Djibo acknowledged that ICAO was late in understanding the in unique requirements of the air cargo sector, but said it is important now to educate regulators around the world about those needs, especially as some air traffic control systems and airports become privatized.
Steen said until the formation of the Global Air Cargo Advisory Group in late 2010 the air cargo industry wasn't aligned in its policy approach and didn't have a single spokesman. The GACAG includes TIACA, the International Association of Freight Forwarders Associations (FIATA), the Global Shippers Forum (comprised of major U.S., European, Asian and Africa shippers' organizations) and the International Air Transport Association.
In order for ICAO to have a proper dialogue it needed someone on the other end who is "prepared, unified and professional," he said.
"You're seeing a movement that is able to engage with governments to make sense out of these complex issues," Steen told small handful of reporters. "We need people outside our industry to understand the value" of the air cargo industry to trade so that steps can be taken to reduce inefficiency in the system. - Eric Kulisch