The December/January 2012 issue of Air Cargo World will include interviews with the top air cargo executives of 2011. Des Vertannnes, IATA’s cargo head, is profiled, along with five other industry insiders. The following is a preview of our chat with him. Look for the full version in the next issue of Air Cargo World.
Air Cargo World: What do you enjoy most about your job?
Des Vertannes: I enjoy working with members of the industry to incite change and make the global airfreight sector more secure, competitive, efficient, profitable and sustainable. There is a great deal to be achieved, but doing so is only possible if the industry can come together and work in unison. Although the immense economic and financial pressures we’re currently facing only makes this harder, I enjoy the privilege of working with my industry peers and colleagues toward achieving these goals.
ACW: How does IATA view cargo?
Vertannes: Cargo is very high on IATA’s priority list. As you know, we have set some
challenging targets, particularly with regard to issues such as e-freight, and our board expects us to follow them through. IATA’s target is to reach 10-percent volume on live e-freight lanes by the end of 2011, and we are on target to meet that. We are similarly concerned with security, which has garnered enormous political and regulatory attention of late. We’ve been supportive of the work of the U.S. government, the International Civil Aviation Organization and the World Customs Organization in bringing forward solutions, such as secure freight, and collaborating about ways to manage risk. These organizations are also championing the provision of advance cargo and goods information, which we support.
The big push this year has been to achieve greater coordination across the cargo supply chain. The establishment of the Global Air Cargo Advisory Group as a powerful industry force has been key to that. Since we signed the agreement between the four main associations at the World Cargo Symposium in March, the GACAG has agreed on the terms of reference and work programs in four priority areas. I anticipate GACAG mobilizing the industry and achieving significant results in all areas of focus.
ACW: What are some of the biggest challenges you faced in 2011?
Vertannes: In my opinion, we faced two main challenges this year. The first is the security challenge. The foiled Yemen cargo bomb plot in October 2010 reminded us that security is an issue that can only be tackled collectively. It reemphasized the value of intelligence and a total-supply-chain approach. Our secure freight program works on that principle and IATA, along with the GACAG, has been working through ICAO to get states to adopt a similar approach.
The second challenge is efficiency. We need to enhance our competitiveness in a very tough global market. The air industry’s fuel bill will top $200 billion next year; we need to utilize every possible productivity gain. Fortunately, the expansion of e-freight is giving the industry a tool to do just that. Now, we must all step up and make it happen. We also need to make better use of existing trade lanes and accelerate growth on the market penetration we currently have.