Cargo carriers join flight ban on Samsung Note 7

After several fire incidents in recent weeks, it looks as if Samsung is going to settle the debate about air transport of lithium-ion batteries as cargo all by themselves. Cargo carriers, including Air Canada Cargo and Finnair Cargo, are now joining passenger carriers in banning Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 smartphone, due to the device’s lithium-ion battery’s propensity to burst into flames.

Australian carrier Qantas, its budget unit Jetstar and Virgin Australia first banned the device from passenger flights beginning Sept. 8, and dozens of other carriers around the world subsequently followed suit. However, now cargo divisions are getting in on the act. Finnair issued an embargo on the device on Sept. 12, including, “new shipments to distributors and possible return shipments from customers.”

The following day, Air Canada Cargo posted a notice that, “As a result of the recent global recall of all Samsung Galaxy Note 7 devices, due to issues with its lithium battery, Air Canada Cargo will not accept these items for transport until further notice,” with the exception of  “shipments of Note 7 devices originating directly from the manufacturer out of Korea and Vietnam, which will be accepted for transport.”

This latest crisis adds to a growing movement in the aviation industry to regulate lithium-ion batteries aboard cargo flights.

Back in April, the United Nations aviation regulator ICAO banned lithium-ion batteries in stand-alone bellyhold shipments on passenger aircraft. Last month, The International Air Transport Association (IATA) warned that a lack of regulation and enforcement in the lithium-ion battery supply chain poses serious security threats.

IATA has viewed the lithium battery issue as a quality control problem and advocates stricter rules and enforcement against a few “bad apple” shippers rather than across-the-board bans. The organization has also warned that unless the entire battery supply chain is regulated and monitored, further incidents are inevitable.

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