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WCS 2013: Actions for a sustainable Air Cargo Industry

The 7th edition of the World Cargo Symposium (WCS) built on the success of previous editions consolidating itself as the premier event within the cargo industry. This cargo forum brought together nearly 1000 delegates from airlines, freight forwarders, shippers, governments, ground handlers, airports and system providers from 90 different countries.

Whilst the main focus of the conference addressed sustainability, IATA’s Director General, Tony Tyler,  called airlines and their partners to work together to make air cargo more competitive . He also outlined the following industry priorities:

  • Modernization of processes: Transitioning to a paperless operating environment is critical to improving air cargo’s competitiveness. IATA is committed to implementing the electronic e-AirWaybill (e-AWB) and the International Federation of Freight Forwarders (FIATA) and the Global Shippers Forum have agreed to push forward the digitalization of other freight documents.
  • Secure the supply chain: IATA called on governments to implement mutually-recognized secure supply chain regimes. The Secure Freight initiative championed by IATA is an example of a supply chain framework which is being piloted in eight locations worldwide
  • Ensure that dangerous goods regulations are followed: Safety is the industry’s top priority. Recent concerns over lithium batteries transported as air cargo have reinforced the need for greater education and communication over the rules for shipping these items.
  • Focus on environmental sustainability: The ability to manage our carbon emissions is our license to grow. That is why we are committed—as an industry—to improving fuel efficiency by 1.5% annually to 2020, capping CO2 emissions from 2020 with carbon-neutral growth (CNG2020) and cutting net emissions in half by 2050 compared to 2005.
    The event was opened by His Excellency Youssef Hussain Kamal, Minister of Economy and Finance of Qatar, who called members of the aviation industry to embrace creativity and innovation in order to progress. Following His Excellency keynote speech, Akbar Al Baker, CEO of Qatar Airways – host airline of WCS - provided the audience with facts and figures on the regional contribution towards the global challenges.


Des Vertannes, Global Head of Cargo went through the main action points that came out of the eleven tracks that made up WCS. He focused on the commitments IATA has with the industry and presented them with Steve Gunning, Chairman of the Cargo Committee.

Shaping the industry

Some major milestones were reached at WCS:

  • Approval by the Cargo Services Conference of the Multilateral e-Air Waybill (e-AWB). This removes the need for individual bilateral e-AWB agreements between airlines and freight forwarders and will be a major boost to e-AWB penetration.
  • The Netherlands and the UK endorsed the training course content for Independent Validators which will be taught at the new IATA Center of Excellence in Geneva. Validating the training course is a critical step to ensure that the industry has the trained personnel to meet the July 2014 deadline to meet the new EU Regulations that allows cargo to continue flying into Europe.
  • Support from the Cargo Agency Conference to the Modernization program.  through the  introduction in 2014 of an Air Cargo Partner Program that recognizes the changing trading environment between airlines and their customers. This will supplement the existing Cargo Agency Program

New features

In recognition to the challenges currently faced by the industry when acquiring and maintaining talent, the first Future Air Cargo Executive Summit (FACES) took place to promote executive management development among those talents that had been identified by their organizations.


The half-day session included exciting debates as well as an exclusive chance for participants to meet some of today’s best and brightest industry leaders such as: Lise-Marie Turpin, Vice President Cargo, Air Canada; Oliver Evans, Chief Cargo Officer at Swiss International Airlines and John Batten, EVP Global Cargo, Swissport International.

The first edition of FACES will definitely not be the last one and will broaden the audience to students in further editions.

Where next?

In 2014 the World Cargo Symposium will be held in Los Angeles, USA on the 11-13 of March. The host carrier will be American Airlines.

View WCS 2013 pictures

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Additional information

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