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LOS ANGELES: Echoing the sentiments of outgoing Lufthansa Cargo CEO Karl Ulrich Garnadt – poised to head up the airline's passenger business from May 01 this year – IATA's cargo chief Des Vertannes has called for a 48-hour reduction in door-to-door air cargo delivery times by 2020.

As Garnadt has said on more than one occasion, currently the average end-to-end time for air cargo shipments is around 6-7 days – a schedule that has not improved since the 1960s.

des vertannes"In this FIFA World Cup year, we need to move the goal-posts for customer expectations. Cutting average transit times by up to 48 hours by 2020 would make a huge difference to our value proposition, and enable the industry to arrest modal shift, and drive new efficiencies for the business," said Vertannes at IATA's 8th World Cargo Symposium in Los Angeles.

Perhaps ironically, the record number of attendees heard Frederick W. Smith, president, chairman and CEO of FedEx Corp., warn against the growth in global trade protectionism that can threaten door-to-door expectations. Smith, who has spent the past 41 years building a $45 billion business from delivering air cargo overnight, said protectionism was up 23 percent since 2009.

"Game-changing innovation is sorely needed in air cargo. Our industry has been mostly stagnant since 2008. We face significant challenges in the areas of efficiency, security and sustainability, and the entire industry needs to commit to new innovative processes if we are to benefit from any economic upturn," declared Vertannes.

He added: "Our customers pay a premium price to ship by air – they deserve to receive a premium service."

To help them get it Vertannes said IATA's 2014 goals included a 22 percent industry-wide implementation of the electronic airwaybill and the adoption of a common methodology for calculating carbon emissions. He explained this would help harmonize efforts to achieve carbon-neutral growth from 2020.

Read Karl Ulrich Garnadt's interview in the latest edition of Freightweek's monthly magazine.

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