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TIACA tackles global expansion

By Martin Roebuck on January 20, 2014

The International Air Cargo Association (TIACA) has embarked on a global recruitment drive to help counter suspicions that it is a “club” serving only limited regional interests.

A media briefing in London heard that the association is keen to strengthen its membership in areas of the world where it currently has less representation, such as the Asia-Pacific, Africa and Latin America.

“It’s not that the industry sees it as a North American organization, or that we’re representing another constituency, but in places like India and Brazil, they just don’t know enough about TIACA,” said Oliver Evans (pictured above), chairman of the association and chief cargo officer of Swiss International Air Lines.

“We need to explain who we are, and our value proposition. Our global agenda of engaging with [bodies including] ICAO and the World Customs Organization is relevant, but it needs translating to local level to show members what support they can expect.”

That level of engagement is deeper than ever, TIACA secretary general Doug Brittin (pictured in left photo) emphasized. Earlier this month, Brittin addressed the annual air cargo security conference of the WCO Technical Experts Group in Brussels. “I don’t think we would have been welcomed even as attendees in the past, let alone have the chance to address them,” he said.

The Universal Postal Union had also invited Brittin to outline how its members, including express operators as well as post offices, could implement new security regulations in the increasingly important home parcel delivery sector without impeding the flow of commerce.

Express operators are “a key stakeholder group” and Brittin welcomed the fact that DHL and UPS were now represented on the TIACA board. Companies like these are often portrayed as controlling the entire supply chain from end to end but are increasingly “connected to the rest of the industry,” making more use of commercial lift and third-party handlers, he pointed out.

TIACA vice chairman Enno Osinga (pictured in right photo), senior VP cargo at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, said the association is raising its ambitions on the global stage. The recent ICAO resolution on liberalization of market access “came about through our lobbying,” he insisted.

Building on its historic foundations as an exhibition and conference organizer, TIACA has “gained credibility over the years but especially in the last few months through our reorganization,” Evans said.

The association has become the “glue” helping to facilitate trade. Its ability to articulate the industry’s global position on key issues such as customs and security was crucial to its successful liaison with regulators. TIACA also worked closely with specialist sectors such as the cool chain and the Technology Assets Protection Association.

TIACA currently has 442 members in 63 countries, representing all parts of the air cargo supply chain. Evans said it was important to reach out to smaller members and he hoped that the appointment of David Yokeum, president and CEO of independent forwarder network WCA, to the TIACA board would act as a catalyst for this.

Despite talk of global consolidation, airline alliances had reached their limits and small forwarders were thriving in what remained a “hugely complex, fragmented” industry, Evans said.

However, shippers were still under-involved, according to Osinga. “As an industry we have not been successful in engaging them,” he admitted.

TIACA sits alongside IATA, FIATA and the Global Shippers’ Forum under the auspices of the Global Air Cargo Advisory Group to present a unified industry voice to governments and regulators. Yet there are different shades of opinion between GACAG’s member organizations when it comes to problematic initiatives such as e-freight.

In what perhaps could be read as a veiled criticism of IATA, Osinga told the meeting: “The industry has been far too ambitious. It’s not like the passenger side of the business, where only the ticket had to go paperless. If we focus on the e-air waybill, it’s going quite fast now.”

Evans commented: “Targets were disseminated very widely, but the industry has made very little progress. There’s more realism now.”