In an address to attendees of the recent Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation USA 2011 conference, The International Air Cargo Association Secretary General Daniel Fernandez advocated the importance of a less-restrictive airfreight sector. Liberalization, Fernandez asserted, will establish new “highways in the sky” and foster economic growth around the globe.
The advantages of liberalization are numerous, Fernandez explained. Doing away with a “bilateral system that is stuck in the past” will enable freight carriers to improve supply chains and expedite the transportation process, he said. It will also benefit manufacturers, who require prompt shipments of time-sensitive goods.
It’s why he encourages governments to rethink their approach to airfreight.
“We believe that countries should view air routes as highways in the sky, a competitive public good every bit as important as surface transportation infrastructure,” Fernandez told conference attendees. “Under a fully liberalized aviation environment, numerous new international highways in the sky are possible, which would markedly improve the speed and accessibility of a nation’s businesses to their global suppliers and customers.”
What’s more, he said, doing so will increase competition among domestic companies and garner the attention of foreign investors. Unfortunately, Fernandez asserted, the global airfreight industry hasn’t yet embraced modernization.
“The transportation of air cargo is still regulated by rules established over 60 years ago in the 1944 Chicago Convention when almost all airlines were national flag carriers and the air cargo industry was still in its infancy,” Fernandez said. “Change is overdue.”
He acknowledges that change might take time, however. Although he said TIACA endorses the complete liberalization of the aviation sector, Fernandez understands that political and structural barriers may prevent this from happening all at once. “That’s why we favor a stepped approached toward full liberalization,” he said.
Before change can occur, however, cargo bilaterals must be separated from passenger agreements, Fernandez said. “Once cargo has a separate bilateral system, regional trading blocks can provide momentum toward implementation of multilateral agreements,” he said. “The aim is the establishment of a multilateral group of countries permitting full cargo freedom rights.”