Sustaining, growing & simplifying airmail

Almost 328 billion letters and 7.4 billion parcels are sent every year and airmail plays an essential role in their delivery. While electronic communications caused a decrease in the number of letters sent, more and more parcels are delivered daily thanks to e-commerce.

Collaboration is key

Since 1911, the Designated Post Operators (DPO) of the world have counted on the airlines to provide fast and reliable services for their mail products. To facilitate the transportation of mail, the IATA’s Airmail Board (AMB) develops and maintains standards and procedures. AMB works closely with international organizations such as the Universal Postal Union (UPU) and the International Post Corporation (IPC), representing the DPOs.

Framework for a Postal Service Agreement

IATA and UPU developed a Recommended Practice (RP1677) stating that, wherever practicable, airline members shall use the framework when entering into a service agreement with a DPO. This Framework helps to formalize the contract between a DPO and an airline. It indicates their obligations, their liabilities, and how to respond to irregularities and issues.

e-Commerce and logistics

The e-commerce trend is booming; double-digit growth and volumes are on the rise. IATA and UPU are working toward sharing volumetric data, which will help plan for the tsunami of parcels. Find out more about the opportunities and challenges from e-commerce for our industry in the IATA e-commerce white paper (pdf).

Mail safety guidelines

Today, many of the commercial products transported by mail operators, such as mobile phones, smartphones, and tablets, contain lithium batteries. To ensure regulatory compliance, DPOs must have a robust safety program including dangerous goods training and acceptance procedures approved by the appropriate Civil Aviation Authority.

Hybrid scenarios

Mail is covered under UPU convention and cargo under ICAO convention. Despite this, for reasons that range from commercial arrangements to capacity constraints on specific routes, some posts and airlines are using alternative ways of carriage for mail regarding operations, documentation and messaging. Such operational alternatives often present challenges in terms of visibility, tracking options, handover registrations and even invoicing.

IATA and the UPU created an expert team to assess the different scenarios that are currently being used to carry mail by air to provide clarification.

Mail security

The European Union has indicated that Electronic Advanced Data (also known as Advance Cargo Information) for the mail will be required in the coming years to risk-assess goods to be transported by air. IATA and the UPU collaborate to comply with this requirement.

The CSD and e-CSD provide regulators with an audit trail of how, when, and by whom the mail has been secured along the supply chain. IATA and postal operators from the UPU collaborate actively to meet ICAO requirements.

Postal Air Waybill Number (PAWB#)

Historically, postal operators and carriers use different electronic data interchange standards.
These two standards will serve the purpose of their respective organizations; however, they are not compatible with each other. IATA, IPC, and UPU strongly advocate on the necessity and the benefits of integrating postal and cargo systems and developed the PAWB# Functional Specifications to bridge the gap between postal operators' and carriers' systems.

Postal Account Settlement System (PASS)

IATA, together with airlines and global post offices, is pursuing a new initiative for a Postal Accounts Settlement System (PASS).

The objective is to provide an automated industry platform to process the large volume of airlines-postal billings and settlements that today are processed bilaterally and largely manually. The new solution will capitalize on IATA’s strong financial services knowledge and expertise, as well as existing solutions for simplified billing and settlement of the supply chain’s stakeholders.