Photo by Lufthansa
FIATA, the International Federation of Freight Forwarders’ Associations, and IATA, the International Air Transport Association, have worked for over three years to design a new air cargo modernisation programme for the global community of air carriers and freight forwarders (CAMP). The idea was to modernise the concepts contained in the existing IATA Cargo Agency programmes; a more modern airline-forwarder business relationship was needed to replace these after several decades of operation.
It was obvious that what had flown fifty years ago was no longer desirable today, however this was a rather complex and difficult objective to achieve and certainly not an easy task for both parties, as it was evident from inception. For years, through the IATA – FIATA Consultative Council (IFCC), FIATA had pointed out several issues to be taken up with IATA’s Cargo Conferences on repeated occasions.
Coming to the present day, FIATA welcomes IATA’s initiative to embrace many CAMP agreed principles in today’s existing programmes. It is FIATA’s desire to continue the dialogue with IATA, a dialogue that must allow FIATA to hold true to its principles, whilst keeping the objective of reaching an agreement in the future, which both parties can accept with confidence that they have served the best interest of the industries they represent.
After extensive discussions FIATA and IATA were unable to agree on the entire new draft, which contained specific references to IATA’s Cargo Accounts Settlement System (CASS) to be integrated into the new programme. CASS is a payment system run by IATA on behalf of the airlines to ensure payments from airlines’ customers. Although FIATA plays no decision making role in the setting of CASS rules, credit terms, guarantees and other requirements which could affect the business of forwarders in various countries and regions in the world, for decades FIATA has tried to defend the interest of one and all freight forwarders concerned, whenever issues of a certain importance where brought to its attention.
Forwarders have ensured the success of CASS by allowing an almost 100% payment compliance record, which is openly recognised by the airlines as a resounding achievement. Forwarders seem to appreciate the efficiency that a collective billing and remittance platform affords. It is however FIATA’s view that a forwarder’s decision whether to sign up to the CASS Participation Agreement with IATA, should be made independently by each individual operator, and not be mandated by the FIATA/IATA agreement as a condition to participate. This seemed however a point which IATA was unable to accept on behalf of its constituent airlines.
For that reason, FIATA has been unable to sign up to a comprehensive agreement with IATA, despite having reached agreement on many progressive principles, e.g. the outdated reference to the freight forwarder as the “agent” of the air carrier, but recognising freight forwarders as customers of the airlines, conducting business in a Principal-to-Principal contract.
Rudi Sagel, Chairman of FIATA’s Airfreight Institute (AFI) recently commented, “FIATA is grateful to both the forwarder and airline representatives who volunteered their time and knowledge to bring forward a modernised cargo programme in the last three years. We still believe that in the future a programme based on these main principles will become a reality, a programme based on the independence of each party in contract, allowing participants a reasonable freedom of choice on how they wish to handle their financial arrangements, either individually, bilaterally or multilaterally, a change that would bring IATA’s CASS up to a level that modern technology allows today and obviously was not available in the past.”
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