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   Vol. 22 No. 44
Friday December 15, 2023

Fried Letter To Santa

Brandon Fried

     A few days ago I started receiving Adventszeit messages from Zurich, where I lived during my collaboration with FIATA (2011-2017). The Swiss are consistent and cherish their traditions, so when you start receiving their messages in the beginning of December you know that the holidays are approaching and you should get ready.
     Geoffrey and Sabiha are always glad to prepare some special reading for the FlyingTypers in this period, to make their readers happy whilst waiting for the New Year. Together we decided to reach out to some of our aficionados and gather their comments and wishes. The holidays always seem far away and all of a sudden tomorrow is Christmas, so you need to use a bit of timing. When you talk of punctuality and time perception, the Swiss probably take the podium, but next in line you could probably place Americans. Accordingly, our good friend Brandon Fried replied with a very meaningful proposition among the first ones received: please read his “letter to Santa” here below and you will get a good idea of what is to be expected in the next few months of the year, from a USA perspective.
     It should be noted that we are looking at nearly half of the world going to the polls one way or another in 2024. This probably means some changes going forward. It will be a turning point in many countries; even though guessing political results is not one of my favorite sidelines, it is difficult to keep a distance and throttle your doubts. In any case this can hardly be described as a peaceful period; we are torn between skepticism and anxiety, expecting the unexpected. In this light Brandon’s words may even sound reassuring and this makes it such a welcome reading for me. So, ladies and gentlemen let me give you: An Executive Director's Perspective: The Airforwarders Association's Wishlist for 2024, presented as a letter to Santa.

Dear Santa,

     I hope this message finds you well and in good spirits as the holiday season approaches. As we stand on the brink of 2024—a year marked by significant global events and elections—I wanted to share the Airforwarders Association's aspirations for the airfreight industry. Amidst the complexities of political transitions, we remain optimistic about cultivating a resilient and prosperous air forwarding sector.

*  Emphasis on Sustainable Practices:

     We fervently wish for a global commitment to sustainable practices within the airfreight industry. Environmental consciousness is taking center stage, and we encourage industry players to adopt eco-friendly initiatives voluntarily. Whether through fuel-efficient aircraft, investments in alternative fuels, or green logistics solutions, a sustainable future is within reach.
     *Example:* We draw inspiration from collaborative efforts within the industry, such as Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) initiatives undertaken by major airlines.      These initiatives, driven by industry understanding and commitment, serve as models for a more sustainable airfreight ecosystem. These sustainability initiatives should remain voluntary, driven by industry commitment rather than being imposed by unfunded and unattainable government mandates. Further, we encourage governments worldwide to assist in SAF production by providing the necessary funding for refining infrastructure and industry adoption incentives.

*  Technological Advancements and Digital Transformation:

     Our hope is for increased investment in digital technologies like blockchain, IoT, and AI, driving efficiency and transparency in air forwarding operations. These advancements are essential to streamline processes, reduce delays, and enhance overall supply chain visibility.
     *Example:* Pilot projects showcasing the implementation of AI technology in supply chains have demonstrated its potential to enhance traceability, reduce fraud, and improve collaboration among stakeholders.

*  Resilience and Agility in the Face of Global Challenges:

     Recognizing the inevitability of disruptions, we hope for a continued emphasis on building resilience and agility in supply chains. This focus will empower airforwarders to navigate unforeseen challenges with adaptability and innovation.
     *Example:* The industry's response to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic exemplified the importance of resilience. Companies adapted swiftly, demonstrating the capacity to meet shifting demands and implementing innovative solutions to maintain the flow of goods.

*  International Collaboration for Regulatory Harmonization:

      Harmonization of international regulations is paramount for a seamless and efficient airfreight network. Our wish is for increased collaboration among nations to streamline customs and security procedures, reduce bureaucratic hurdles, and create a conducive environment for international trade.
     *Example:* Initiatives like the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) and World Customs Organization's (WCO) toward Trade Facilitation aim to simplify and harmonize customs procedures globally, fostering a more efficient cross-border movement of goods. Further, air cargo security requirements should harmonize globally with consistent rules for screening and handling of cargo.

*  Investment in Workforce Development:

     The backbone of the airforwarding industry is a skilled and adaptable workforce. We hope for increased investment in training and education programs, equipping professionals with the skills necessary to navigate the evolving landscape of airfreight.
     *Example:* Collaborative industry-led training programs and partnerships with educational institutions can bridge the skills gap, ensuring a well-prepared workforce for the future.
     As we navigate the challenges and opportunities that 2024 will undoubtedly bring, the Airforwarders Association remains committed to advocating for policies and initiatives that foster a resilient, sustainable, and innovative airfreight industry.
     Thank you for considering our perspective, and we look forward to continued collaboration and progress in the coming year.

Best regards,
Brandon Fried
Executive Director
Airforwarders Association

     That was a good reality check in my view and I daresay it is quite a feat considering its nature as a list of desiderata.
     On the other hand, if you wish to be a bit more pungent in your observation you could actually argue that some of Brandon’s hopes have been there in our wishes for quite some time and despite the relevant and meaningful debate, not much has been achieved yet, in particular if you consider issues regarding the environment. In this light I must say aviation starts in disadvantage. As Brandon correctly observed is it very difficult to dispose of fossil fuels in aviation but we hope SAF will be of assistance. In other modes of transport perhaps more could have been done in time, but progress has not been extraordinary there either. Similarly, we could observe in IT and digitalization, where the instruments have been there for a long time now, progress is possibly slower than we could expect and would have wished.
     On this point we have already informed our readers when reporting on TIACA’s summit. There will be more to read in future though, as we plan to receive additional input from other “usual suspects” of ours. It is in the pipeline, stay tuned!
     With this, it is now my turn now to wish all our readers a good Advertszeit period, followed by peaceful and enjoyable holidays.
Marco L. Sorgetti

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