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IATA stepping up efforts to ensure safe air transport of lithium batteries

By JT - Dec 11,2019 - Last updated at Dec 11,2019

AMMAN — The International Air Transport Association (IATA), in partnership with the Global Shippers Forum, the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations and the International Air Cargo Association, are exerting more efforts to ensure the safe air transport of lithium batteries, according to an IATA statement. 

The organisations are also renewing calls for governments to crack down on manufacturers of counterfeit batteries and of mis-labelled and non-compliant shipments introduced into the supply chain, by issuing and enforcing criminal sanctions on those responsible.

Consumer demand for lithium batteries is growing by 17 per cent, annually. Subsquently, the number of incidents involving mis-declared or undeclared lithium batteries has also risen. 

“Dangerous goods, including lithium batteries, are safe to transport if managed according to international regulations and standards. But we are seeing an increase in the number of incidents in which rogue shippers are not complying. The industry is uniting to raise awareness of the need to comply. This includes the launching of an incident reporting tool so that information on rogue shippers is shared. And we are asking governments to get much tougher with fines and penalties,” said Nick Careen, IATA’s senior vice president, airport, passenger, cargo and security.

The campaign includes three specific initiatives.

They are an incident reporting and alert system for airlines, an industry awareness campaign on the dangers of shipping undeclared and misdeclared lithium batteries, and the facilitation of a joined-up industry approach.

The alert system is an industry information sharing platform has been launched to target mis-declared consignments of lithium batteries. The reporting system will allow real-time information about dangerous goods incidents to be reported in order to identify and eradicate acts of deliberate or intentional concealment and misdeclaration.

As for the campaign, a series of dangerous goods awareness seminars are being held across the world targeting countries and regions where compliance has been challenging. 

In addition, an education and awareness programme for customs authorities has been developed in collaboration with the World Customs Organisation.

 Regarding the joined-up approach, the industry has pledged support for an initiative presented by the United Kingdom, New Zealand, France and The Netherlands at the recent Assembly of the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organisation which calls for the adoption of a cross-domain approach to include aviation security, manufacturing standards, customs and consumer protection agencies. 

Currently air cargo is scanned for items that pose a risk to security such as explosives, but not safety such as lithium batteries. 

Governments must play their role with much stricter enforcement of international regulations to ensure the safe transport of these vital shipments, said the statement. The four trade associations urge regulators to follow through with significant fines and penalties for those who circumvent regulations for the transport of lithium batteries.

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