Forwarders get together to tackle airfreight issues

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The Airforwarders Association (AfA) is driving an initiative to help tackle airport congestion in the US.

AfA’s Airport Congestion Committee (ACC) recently met and agreed to focus on developing solutions for: technology and automation; service standards; airport facilities and infrastructure; staffing and hours of operation; and regulatory and paperwork challenges.

The five critical issues were identified by a survey of airport cargo stakeholders by AfA, the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America (NCBFAA) and the Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA).

ACC members will now produce a Recommendation Paper with which to approach private, public, and government entities to highlight challenges and suggest solutions.

ACC chair and vice president of AfA member Kale Info Solutions, Donna Mullins, said that on completion, the association would invite the air cargo industry to come together to implement solutions for more efficient airports.

She said: “Our survey generated hundreds of responses from a broad cross-section of industry segments clearly articulating a number of problems that require remedial action.

“Our deliverable will not be a document that sits on a shelf, we will be presenting concerns as well as potential solutions to key industry leaders and appropriate members of Congress and the Office of the Secretary of Transportation.”

The industry’s efforts would also be key to obtaining public funds for a wide range of capital and technology improvements.

The ACC, which has recently been joined by Airlines for America (A4A) and the Airline Service Providers Association (ASPA), is seeking to drive improvements including enhanced electronic communications linking airport stakeholders, as well as improved access and on-airport landside infrastructure to accommodate trucks.

AfA executive director, Brandon Fried, added: “Truck congestion caused by cargo handling delays at major airport cargo facilities continues to cost our members significant financial resources and lost productivity.  This initiative will help us identify causes while providing a foundational document to share with government officials in creating solutions to the challenge.”

Modernized airport cargo facilities with mechanized handling and cross-training to enhance communications and operating efficiency, are also identified as key areas for improvement.

ACC vice chair and vice president global air freight for SEKO Logistics, Shawn Richard added: Congestion at our airports is such an important issue, and by working together as a Committee, we are able to draw upon each member’s unique knowledge and diverse experience, to be able to execute a robust plan and achieve our collective goals of improved throughput and modernization of outdated infrastructure with an emphasis on environmental sustainability.”

ACC will meet at the end of May to review submissions and plan next steps and deliverables.

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