|Vol. 20 No. 40||
Wednesday October 13, 2021
Why Did IFACP Go Up In Smoke?
You remember the announcement in 2016 that at long last IATA and FIATA would engage in a partnership that would do many things?
“To meet the evolving needs of the air cargo industry and better reflect the change in relationships and the transformed role of the freight forwarder, IATA and FIATA joined forces to review, refine, and re-engineer the current Cargo Agency Program and to develop a new and modernized Program. The IATA-FIATA Air Cargo Program (IFACP) is the result. It recognizes that the vast majority of forwarders are no longer ‘selling-agents’ for and on behalf of airlines but are ‘purchasing customers’ of airlines and their business relationship is often that of a buyer and seller.”
Well today don’t bother looking for it, because that long-hoped for IFACP deal is as gone as was much of Chicago after Mrs. O’Leary’s cow reportedly kicked over a lantern that began the great fire of 1871.
We mention Mrs. O’Leary, as IATA World Cargo Symposium takes place in Dublin this week and also because so far not much has been explained by either IATA or FIATA despite our requests for a bit of explanation, here raising the spectre of a swirl of blarney to be circulating out there about that deal, not unlike what happened to Mrs. O’Leary.
But unlike the newspaperman that later admitted he made up the Mrs. O’Leary’s cow story, we will factually follow how IFACP unfolded and suppose the rest, hoping to get to the heart of the story.
We do know that there were some tests of the partnership in the great supposed coming together of the global organization of the airlines.
First some questions:
Let us start with the title IFACP, IATA FIATA Cargo Program:
Why IATA first, as F comes before I in the alphabet?
If you start an exercise this way you are not likely to consider your interlocutor at your same level.
One wonders whether the interests of the two organizations have been in sync all along the way, as forwarders repeatedly stated they wanted to be “customers of the airlines”, as we heard in Dublin in 2016, but in reality airlines were ambivalent between considering them as their own agents, if they were smaller entities eager to earn the IATA stamp, or their peers when they wore the colors of DHL’s, K&N’s, etc.
As IATA stipulates in its own mission statement the association has always been after safeguarding the interests of the airlines, in particular in matters of money, with the CASS program.
Perhaps IFACP began to fall apart, when it was clear that the Europeans were no longer going to be able to use their more advanced and balanced program.
If they accepted the new global program, it was impossible for IATA to avoid yielding to the temptation of putting today’s business conditions with forwarders back to last century’s level.
Then the pandemic kicked in and cargo seemed to take the limelight in aviation, but . . . the cargo heroes of the pandemic in some cases as 2021 chugs along, and their contribution to saving airlines’ destinies, are now back where they belong: in the storeroom.
Similarly we note, Europeans did not manage to get a speaker at that IATA Global AGM conference in Boston last week, in the short window reserved to air cargo.
One wonders whether all this can happen without repercussions in the long run?
Difficult to say whether airlines will eventually manage to integrate their business into the shippers’ requirements and modus operandi.
Today many openly speak about the need for forwarders to evolve dramatically or perish, even among their own ranks.
At the end of the day, the failure of the coveted IATA FIATA Air Cargo Program could be an opportunity in disguise and oblige freight forwarders to abandon their traditional approach and think of an entirely new business model, based on paperless and mobile technology.
On the other hand, the sudden end of the air cargo program building activity could also introduce controversy among airlines and within IATA. There are airlines that are more ambitious to cooperate with forwarders than others and this remains an open issue within the industry. Time will tell.
In any case things between the airlines and the forwarders remain as before although hope springs eternal that something will change before many more generations of us pack it in or heaven forbid, kick the can.
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Publisher-Geoffrey Arend • Managing Editor-Flossie Arend • Editor Emeritus-Richard Malkin
Film Editor-Ralph Arend • Special Assignments-Sabiha Arend, Emily Arend
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