Online trade is a growth driver for the air cargo industry. It creates an increasing need for speed, visibility, and easy returns, all of which impact the logistics chain.

The air cargo industry is transforming to capitalize on e-commerce by building global standards, creating partnerships, and fostering innovation. Air cargo is a crucial enabler for online trade, opening more and more opportunities for new digital business models.

Air cargo serving e-commerce

Online shoppers have managed to become the center of attention for e-Tailers, making e-commerce a consumer-centric business. Should a company fail to meet its customers' needs, it will most probably lose them to the competition. Consumers are browsing the world wide web for a wider offer, and when they buy they expect high-speed shipping, transparency, reliability, agility, and consistency in the delivery.

As air cargo is an essential component of cross-border e-Commerce, airlines need to transform to meet the needs of the shippers.

IATA works to advise the industry and enhance their understanding of the opportunities and challenges that exist. This includes anticipating online consumer and e-tailer needs so airlines can capitalize on e-commerce growth.

IATA also ensures the air cargo industry has the right regulations, standards, and global framework to offer the right logistics solutions for the e-commerce retail industry.

e-Commerce Insights

e-Commerce White Paper

Find out how the air cargo industry is addressing e-commerce and IATA's role in driving these initiatives in the Air Cargo serving e-commerce (pdf) white paper.

Areas of transformation

IATA, including Cargo iQ, is driving change in the air cargo industry by simplifying the business and embracing new initiatives and technologies. Our objective is to make air cargo easier, faster and smarter.

We have identified eight areas for transformation:

Safety & Security

Strengthen safety and security for air cargo
and airmail (manage e-commerce traffic
flows while maintaining and improving safety
and security record). A code of conduct and

safety guidelines to ensure that no prohibited
items will be inserted in the air cargo supply

Digitalization, Technology
& Innovation

Encourage the industry to embrace new
technologies that will ensure greater
visibility, transparency, and efficiency.

Data sharing to allow better planning and
contingencies, introducing automated
processes, AI, AR, and robotics in the
cargo facility to enhance speed.

New business enhancements

Monitor new and emerging trends to call for
and promote stronger industry coordination.

Operations & Infrastructure

Simplify processes, optimize flows, and speed up the transaction, introducing industry best practices based on stakeholder requirements.

Customs & Trade Facilitation

Encourage trade facilitation and border procedures aligned to international standards using modern approaches.


A paperless supply chain, smarter use of packaging and other materials for sustainable goals.

Stakeholder engagement, community creation

Increase the level of engagement with both major and emerging e-commerce players to capture needs, challenges and guide relevant global industry standards development.

Data, Economics, and Insights

Use data to provide industry insights on e-commerce and create lobbying positions.


IATA Programs

Strengthen safety and security for air cargo and airmail

Safety and security must be further enhanced with stronger collaboration and compliance with programs related to training, trusted partner identification, regulations, and best practices.

  • Mail Safety Guidelines
  • e-Commerce Framework of Standards

Embrace new technologies that will ensure greater visibility, transparency, and efficiency

Technology will enable the air cargo industry to respond to e-commerce needs.

Simplify processes, optimize flows and speed up the transaction

Strengthening the value proposition will be crucial for airlines, forwarders and ground handlers to support and capitalize on e-commerce growth.

Engage with e-commerce players and promote stronger industry coordination

IATA is closely collaborating with international organizations, corporations, freight forwarders, and online retailers. The objective is to make e-commerce a comfortable experience for consumers and a seamless experience for operations professionals.