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A Call for Action for European Air Cargo

By  Brussels, — Last updated on 31 March 2020

It is a less visible part of our business — as the focus is often on passengers — but the majority of A4E members have air cargo and mail activities. It is either carried on full freighters or in the belly of passenger aircraft.

The air cargo business facilitates the fast, reliable and secure movement of goods across borders, sustaining seamless supply chains and contributing to the development of economic networks which no other form of transport can provide. Industry globalisation and growing consumer demand for air cargo services puts Europe at the intersection of global trade.

Although it represents 2.6% in trade volumes, European air cargo accounts for nearly 30% of exports and 21% of imports in valueEurostat, 2018 —, turning our industry into a crucial enabler of economic activity throughout the continent and far beyond.

What the EU should do

We’ve collectively celebrated 25 years of the EU Internal Market for Aviation recently and A4E welcomes this concrete success of the EU. However, joint efforts are still needed to preserve and enhance the competitiveness of the sector for the benefit of European consumers and businesses alike.

In this context, A4E has launched a Policy Manifesto for European Air Cargo (2019–2024), calling for a European regulatory framework that focuses on seamless and efficient EU trade with the rest of the world, prioritising security, customs, digitalisation and sustainability.

Given the sector’s high operational and infrastructure costs, commitment from the European Union to the air cargo sector is increasingly important to streamline complex EU regulations. Another challenge is to ensure harmonised implementation at Member State level. A4E cargo members are asking the EU to focus on the following measures to ensure the air cargo industry can continue to thrive:

  • Develop an EU list of recognised security technologies and methods that could then be proposed at an ICAO level;
  • Develop an EU-wide list of approved cargo carriers for a secure supply chain in Europe;
  • Harmonise the implementation of the Union Customs Code (UCC) across member states and in line with international standards;
  • Ensure that the Electronic Freight Transport Information Regulation (eFTI)’s implementation is in line with existing air transport standards and that it is harmonised across Member States;
  • Allocate EU R&D funds to digitalisation and innovation projects pertaining to air cargo (for instance electric ground operations, big data programmes for monitoring and reporting, etc);
  • Incentivise the production of sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs) and support R&D for ever greener aircraft;
  • Swiftly adopt a revised Single European Sky (SES), which would also benefit the air cargo industry in reducing flight times and CO2 emissions.

Our proposed Air Cargo action plan is ambitious. It also reflects the contribution of the sector to a thriving European economy. A4E members are already contributing to the sustainable growth of the sector by working hand in hand with the European institutions, and they are ready to continue to do so with even more passion for the completion of this Policy Manifesto.