The IATA air cargo career competition

FACE-UP! provides recent graduates from around the world with the opportunity to present their solution on addressing the challenges of the air cargo supply chain to industry executives at the 2024 World Cargo Symposium (WCS) in Hong Kong, China.

The work must focus on innovation and transformation in air transport logistics, in the areas of digitalization, sustainability and safety and security. The entries received will be evaluated based on the innovative, transforming, and visionary nature of the content, the applicability of the solution to resolve an industry problem, as well as the quality of the solution presented.

An independent jury panel will select the top three entrants who are then invited to pitch their idea in front of 1000+ top-level industry professionals at the closing plenary of the WCS. Besides being a unique networking opportunity, attending the WCS will also provide a valuable chance to learn about the latest trends and developments in the air cargo industry.

2024 FACE-UP Finalists

  • Erik Goldenstein, Fraunhofer – ‘NE:ONE Play’
  • Arjan Bhogal, Buckinghamshire New University – ‘ Reducing the air cargo industry’s single-use plastics problem’
  • Niclas Scheiber, Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences – ‘Unleashing the semantic potential of ONE Record’

Candidate profile

  • University graduate (bachelor, masters, or Ph.D.), current or within 2 years of graduation.
  • Presented solution focuses on resolving air transport logistics challenges.
  • Ability to present in a dynamic and captivating way at the WCS Closing Plenary.


Sustainability Digitalization Cargo Safety

The development of long-term strategies and investments to achieve a sustainable industry is key to guaranteeing the future of air cargo. The industry is committed to positively impacting people and the planet while contributing to global prosperity and peace through industry partnership.

As aviation is a driver for global development, we have embraced the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as the guiding principles of our sustainability activities. 

The challenge is about the creative solutions to improve and address sustainability challenges in the air cargo industry. 

Topic areas include but are not limited to:

The vision is to achieve a fully digitally connected and integrated air cargo supply chain.

Digitizing the air freight industry means changing how stakeholders work together, ensuring smooth processes and data flow from start to finish.

To meet the client's needs for fast communication, transparency, and efficiency, air freight companies must shift from reliance on manual work to instant connectivity with carriers, suppliers and customers.

This challenge is about the creative usage of digital solutions to improve and address supply chain inefficiencies in the air cargo industry. 

Topic areas include but are not limited to: 

Safety awareness and compliance across the Air Cargo supply chain is the key, ensuring any loaded item onboard will have no impact on flight safety. Requirements and responsibility must be clear to all parties involved, and the industry still counts on people filing declarations for airlines to understand what shippers are tendering.

The increase in demands for special shipments requires development and implementation of new standards, using new insights to mitigate cargo safety risk and ensuring this information makes its way in a concise format through the right channels. 

This challenge is about the usage of creative solutions to improve and address safety and security challenges in the air cargo industry.

Topic areas include but are not limited to: 

1. Waste Reduction  1. End-to-end no paper supply chain  1. Dangerous Goods Regulations (e.g. Lithium batteries, infectious substances): pre-empt, avoid and manage incidents, efficient use of learnings from the past and new technology, DGR provisions and declarations, training and compliance checks
2. Packaging Reduction (single-use in particular)  2. Optimization of equipment and warehouse usage, load factor, routes and route planning 2. Unit Load Devices: safety measures, incident management
3. Supply Chain Efficiency: improving logistics, route planning, optimizing load factors to improve overall sustainability  3. Supply chain deviations  3. Special loads: heavy and oversized cargo that cannot be restrained by the ULD
4. Industry Communication and Collaboration: fostering cooperation to drive sustainability initiatives and transparency  4. Visibility including blind spots along the supply chain 4. Perishables and live animal transport: flight safety concerns, leakage, escape of animals and/or fluids
5. Improving Infrastructure: optimizing equipment i.e. with better energy consumption/less emissions, implementing sustainable practices i.e. waste management.  5. Collaboration and communication between parties  5. Transport of human remains: risks and mitigation, communication and humane approach

How to participate

To enter the Competition, please submit the following required materials:

  • Completed submission form (all fields are obligatory).
  • A link to a 1-2 minute video in English, in which you provide information on your education background, topic of the solution and your vision on how the solution addresses one of the air cargo challenges.
  • Abstract of the solution in English (1-page).
  • A maximum 10 pages document describing the solution in detail, in essay format, including the areas: introduction, problem statement, stakeholders impacted, approach to define the solution, solution detail, approach to implement the solution, benefits to the air cargo industry, potential challenges and risks. To support the solution explanation charts, graphs and tables can be included.
  • Submission instructions: Submit a zip file containing all documents and information listed in “Application Requirements” via WeTransfer to with the subject “ [FULL NAME ] / FACE UP Application”. 
  • Agreeing to be subject to these Terms and Conditions by ticking the “I Agree” box on the application form.



  • Entry pass to the Future Air Cargo Executive Summit (FACES) 2024.
  • Entry pass to 2024 WCS for each individual Entrant that is shortlisted as a finalist, including travel and accommodation.
  • Each shortlisted finalist will be given a 10-minute presentation slot at the 2024 WCS Closing Plenary to present their solution.The winner will receive a free voucher for nine live virtual classroom courses, providing them with an in-depth exploration of the fundamentals and foundation of business management strategy, skills and development tools for air cargo.

Judging criteria

  • Relevance for the air cargo industry: The submitted idea clearly addresses one of the air cargo challenges within the areas: Digitalization, Sustainability or Safety and security. 
  • Innovation: The solution represents a breakthrough on air cargo technology and processes; and opens up horizons for new value-added services and business models. 
  • The originality of the topic covered: The solution illustrates the student’s capacity to think out of the box and showcase a unique point of view/area of application. 
  • Quality of the research: The candidate has demonstrated their academic and research skills, working out a solution with rigor, clarity, and consistency. 
  • Robustness and applicability of the solution: The solution should reflect an innovative approach and should demonstrate a clear understanding of the issue it seeks to address, providing a clear structure and formulation of the content. An approach/plan for implementation should be part of the solution highlighting benefits clearly. 
  • Presentation Skills: The video presentation of the entrant (part of the application requirements) should demonstrate their presentation skills in delivering effective, captivating, and engaging presentations. 


  • 4 September 2023: Competition launch
  • 31 December 2023: End of the submission period
  • 13 February 2024: Announcement of the finalists
  • 14 March 2024: Presentations and final voting at the IATA World Cargo Symposium closing plenary

Jury panel

The independent jury, including industry experts, academics and innovators, evaluates the entries received and will shortlist three finalists. The delegates at the 2024 WCS will then vote the winning idea.

Independent Jury includes:

  • Vivien Lau, Chief Executive, Jardine Aviation Services Group
  • Daniela Vial, Director Of Product Development, LATAM Cargo
  • Kirsten de Bruijn, Executive Vice President Cargo, WestJet
  • Ilan Biton, CEO, Enabling Insight
  • Ashwin Bhat, Chief Executive Officer, Lufthansa Cargo
  • Lucas Fernandez, VP Innovation & Insights, CHAMP Cargosystems