KOREA TO EUROPE DEMAND
For AirBridgeCargo, the sector from Korea to Europe has shown the steepest rise in
demand. “With Asia being the major manufacturer of lithium batteries, it is no wonder
that this market is the origin of the biggest share of ABC DG shipments, which has
amounted to 60% and is mostly Europe-bound,” remarks Lazarev.
batteries is a...
of handling them or dealing
with the booking, have to be
To date, Cargolux has
certified seven online
stations to ship and receive
lithium batteries, including
its Luxembourg hub, Los
Angeles, Hong Kong and
Seoul. Demand to certify more
stations is strong. Frankfurt has
been validated as a European
station to accept bookings, but
not to handle this traffic.
However, while every carrier
has to strengthen its own
measures to safeguard against
potential problems with
lithium battery traffic, there is
a need to approach the issue
end-to-end, argues Lazarev.
“To successfully transport
lithium batteries is a multitiered
process which requires
precise and accurate actions
and strict compliance with all
All the stakeholders should
audit each step of the
transportation in order to
identify critical points and
develop an action plan for
further improvement and
refinement,” he comments.
Reducing the risks
Through ICAO, the industry
has taken a number of
collective steps to reduce the
risk, most prominently the
banning of lithium battery
shipments from passenger
aircraft. Work is continuing
on a packing solution, reports
Brennan, adding that this will
take longer than originally
anticipated, owing to the
complexity of the challenge.
At the United Nations,
the sub-committee on
dangerous goods has
established a working group
to consider a re-evaluation
of the classification process
lithium batteries be shipped by air at a 30% charge level. Here
the industry relies on compliance of the shipper. “A handler
or a forwarder has no way of verifying that a battery inside a
package is at 30%. All systems are based on trust. The person
who sends batteries signs a legal declaration,” Brennan says
A great deal of effort has gone into raising awareness over
the dangers of lithium batteries. Carriers like AirBridgeCargo
conduct workshops for their clientele. For IATA, one priority
has been liaison with the Universal Postal Union. Nevertheless,
at the end of the day, non-compliance remains a constant
threat that forces all parties to stay vigilant.
Digitisation: the best path?
Digitisation is one tool that offers solutions. IATA paved the
way for this early last year when it sanctioned the Electronic
Goods Declaration, which had been developed over the
previous year in a collaborative effort of industry bodies and a
small number of airlines.
IATA followed up on this last April with the launch of
its Dangerous Goods AutoCheck, a tool for the automatic
compliance checking of shippers’ declarations for dangerous
goods against all relevant regulations. Through the integration
of optical character recognition, this can take in data from a
paper document as well as information received through digital
The tool went live last October and has since attracted a
number of users, comprising airlines, handlers and forwarders.
The first to sign up was ground handler Pudong Air Cargo
Terminals in Shanghai. Beyond enhanced security, the handler
embraced the tool to improve its dangerous goods acceptance
accuracy and to reduce checking process time.
“They found it saves them a significant amount of time,”
Lufthansa Cargo has digitised its booking process to offer
an online booking option for dangerous goods, the first airline
to do so. Shippers can use the tool to generate electronically
signed dangerous goods declaration sheets and send them
automatically. Its user interface is backed with automated test
parameters derived from IATA’s dangerous goods handbook.
The tool offers users sustained support and can be applied
equally in air cargo, road and ocean transportation, says a
spokesman for the airline.
Shawn McWhorter, President for the Americas at Nippon
Cargo Airlines, thinks that Lufthansa is moving in the right
direction. “We just upgraded our handling system in Japan.
Now we’re able to do a full electronic exchange. We will go
down that path in 2019,” he avers.
A greater degree of digitisation should also help airlines
meet a rising call from their clientele for digital solutions to
improve shipment visibility. AirBridgeCargo is meeting this
demand through a combination of online track and trace
and support from its Control Tower, which monitors every
dangerous goods shipment, states Lazarev.
for lithium batteries. A more
granular approach makes
sense, reasons Brennan.
“There are huge amounts of
variation within lithium-ion
and lithium-metal categories.
The chemistry is different from
batteries that power a laptop
or a phone and batteries for a
vehicle or a power tool. For a
power tool you want a lot of
power, but it doesn’t have to
last long; for a mobile phone
you want power at a steady
rate,” he argues.
Parallel to these efforts
the industry is looking at
other technologies, such as
fire-retardant covers and fireresistant
containers, he adds.
Since a partially charged
battery is safer than a
fully charged one, current
regulations mandate that
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