The U.S. Air Transport Association got a facelift in December when it rebranded as Airlines for America. The new name better conveyed the aviation sector’s vital role in connecting the U.S. to the global economy, A4A officials said. No one can better attest to this fact than Elizabeth Shaver, who was named director of cargo services during the makeover process. An airfreight veteran who joined A4A from Delta Air Lines in January, Shaver talked with Air Cargo World about the challenges of her new role and why collaboration between the industry and government is key.
1. How important is cargo to A4A and your members? How will you promote this sector in your new role?
Cargo is critical to our members, who play a vital role in connecting people and goods to
the global economy. For some, it is their core business, and cargo’s contribution to the bottom line of the passenger carriers cannot be underestimated. Having just arrived at A4A from a member carrier, I have lived the challenges they face in terms of the cost and complexity of non-optimized, non-harmonized regulatory structures. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to devote myself full-time to improving the environment to securely and efficiently move cargo via cooperative, targeted and constructive work with our government and industry partners.
2. Will the airlines and the cargo industry be able to meet the 100-percent international screening deadlines established by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration?
Yes, and we continue to believe our best opportunity to build on our high security standards is to move to a real-time, risk-based approach that incorporates advanced
data screening and the flexibility to focus limited resources where they are needed most.
3. How does the industry further tighten cargo security for domestic and international operations?
A strong working partnership between the government and industry is absolutely crucial. Our interests are intertwined, and the impact and progress of our actions improve when we coordinate with one another. No one knows the business and the operational details better than the airlines, and that knowledge is crucial to governments, as they look to develop the most effective and efficient regulatory structures and support mechanisms
to accomplish security objectives.
4. What are the biggest challenges affecting the industry in regard to international Customs processes?
First, the industry needs to maintain the air cargo business model’s competitive edge with regard to the impact of new security requirements on the operational timeline. Second, we are dealing with the varying requirements from country to country, which make compliance more challenging for carriers and also drive significant IT development costs. Lastly, promoting a more robust integration of trusted trade partners, along with carriers, into the process is very important.
5. How is the quest for the industry-wide use of e-documents progressing?
The complexities of accomplishing this can’t be understated. The airline industry has played an active role in moving from paper to e-cargo — with initiatives such as Cargo 2000 and e-freight. Government support and promotion are also indispensable. U.S. Customs and Border Protection has been a leader with its development of new systems for trade data-sharing and document-imaging that will help the supply chain to deliver required documents electronically and promote the managed interoperability of Customs-collected e-data among participating government agencies.
On the industry side, we have come a long way in automating the supply chain, but much work remains. The varying requirements among countries, along with the high costs of technology development, are key barriers that we face.