The International Air Cargo Association (TIACA) issued a statement saying far greater cooperation within the logistics sector, governmental bodies and customers will be needed before the full economic gains from paperless air freight can be realised.

However, in a separate development, the Indian Government is pressing ahead with plans for a common IT platform for air cargo stakeholders.

The leading industry body cited the lack of common standards in the industry and thereby a lack of transparency as a major obstacle. Cooperation among shippers, consignees and customs authorities is required for a fully paperless procedure to be introduced. The industry body concedes that ocean carriers are ahead of the curve in this respect.

Perhaps putting a different perspective on the issue, Brandon Fried, Executive Director, Airforwarders Association in the US, pointed out at a recent conference in association with CNS Partnership that transparency is important, but less than two percent of goods go astray and perhaps of equal weight are the reasons behind bottlenecks developing.

However, the lack of progress in converting to paperless airfreight has been a longstanding concern of TIACA, and this was recently highlighted at the Trade & Cargo Facilitation Association (TCF) gathering in Sweden. Considerable challenges remain, but what emerged from this conference was a high willingness to find solutions as the potential gains are significant. The ongoing talk of a data pipeline was discussed at the conference, as was the need for common standards and digital language. The conclusion reached is that shippers must go paperless to gain full access to global airfreight services.

Air cargo is complex and global in nature, and its regulations remain extremely complicated. However, recent progress on the technology issue has been undertaken by the authorities in India. Civil Aviation Secretary R N Choubey revealed the government is working on a common IT platform for stakeholders in the domestic air cargo sector and this is expected to in place within 18 months. With the Indian Government projecting annualised air cargo growth at over 9% during the next few years, this IT platform will facilitate the movement of air cargo.

In a separate development, Jamaica is on course to become the first country to adopt the latest version of ASYCUDA World. This should ensure industry stakeholders are on the same digital wavelength and is anticipated to reap efficiency, trade, safety and security benefits.