1. How will you follow in Giovanni Bisignani’s footsteps?
Giovanni left an impressive legacy. I’m fortunate to be taking over an organization with a track record of some major successes in recent years. Even more importantly, I’m inheriting a team of highly motivated professionals who are dedicated to delivering results that help the industry improve business.
The aviation value chain is complex — and IATA alone can’t drive change. But there is a lot of common ground on issues, ranging from safety and security to industry efficiency, that give us great scope for cooperation. I see IATA’s natural role as being a catalyst for cooperation among industry stakeholders and governments that serves everybody’s interest.
That is particularly true in cargo where E-freight and security are probably the two biggest issues for us. Actually, the two are related, because using E-documents along the whole cargo supply chain would make securing it much easier and more effective. We have already produced 20 electronic standards for E-freight, all of which are core-shipping documents, allowing us to achieve a paperless environment in 44 countries.
We need to get the entire supply chain working together if we are going to meet our targets. This year, we’ve aimed for 10 percent on E-freight-capable trade routes and 100 percent by 2015. The Global Air Cargo Advisory Group (GACAG) will play a key role in aligning the supply chain. E-freight is a game-changing opportunity that the air cargo value-chain can’t afford to miss.
2. What are some of the current challenges in the industry?
There’s no shortage of challenges. The impact of a sluggish global economy and high fuel prices are common problems across the industry. The challenge to respond responsibly to climate change is universal. But even more fundamentally, there are the constant challenges of safety and security.
For safety, we are definitely on the right track. The Dangerous Goods Regulations, for example, are well-established global standards that IATA supports with various products and services including IATA Operational Safety Auditing, IATA Safety Audit for Ground Operations, training and manuals. The transport of lithium batteries is an increasing safety concern for our members. IATA is organizing the first-ever seminar on this topic in Shanghai from November 8-9.
There is much more to do in the way of security. Everybody recognizes its importance, but that has not yet translated into the kind of global cooperation that we see on safety.
Since the events last October concerning shipments from Yemen, we have been collaborating with the International Civil Aviation Organization, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Transportation Security Administration and U.S. Customs and Border Protection and our GACAG partners to find and implement effective solutions that meet the evolving challenge.
Secure freight is part of the solution. IATA firmly believes in a risk-based approach to security, with responsibility shared across the value chain. The secure freight initiative has been successfully piloted in Malaysia, and Egypt, Kenya, Mexico and Chile have confirmed their wish to move forward with the program. The goal is to deliver successful results that will be a model for others to follow.
3. How did your experience at Cathay Pacific prepare you for your new position?
Cathay Pacific is an especially big player in the cargo market. Measured by FTKs, Cathay Pacific was No. 3 in the world after FedEx and UPS. So I came to the job with a good understanding of the challenges and the possibilities. For example, I’m proud that Cathay Pacific was able to work with the industry in Hong Kong to make E-airway bills a requirement. Working with Des Vertannes, IATA’s global head of cargo, I plan to very closely follow developments in this area.
4. How will IATA evolve in the next decade?
My goal is to keep IATA focused on adding value to our members as they react to changes in their business. This first means understanding the priorities of our members and then delivering results in cooperation with our partners through GACAG and with governments through ICAO. The issues that we face as an industry are big, and every member of the value chain has a stake in resolving them successfully.
A decade from now I hope for two things: The first is that we — the whole value chain — will be much better at staying focused on the common ground where, together, we can support the needs of this great industry that is at the heart of our globalized world. The second is that we become even faster at embracing change and optimizing the use of technology.
The scope of IATA’s activities also could expand. We are looking to define common standards for cargo ground-handling activities as well as provide a common set of key performance indicators to benchmark supply-chain operations.
5. What has surprised you most in your new role?
I’ve been a member of the IATA Board of Governors for several years and served as its chairman from 2009 to 2010, so I had a pretty good idea of what I was getting myself into. If there’s one thing that has positively impressed me, it’s the breadth of IATA’s deep involvement in the global industry. After four months, I’m still learning a lot about what we do — and I suspect that this will continue for some time.