Airforwarders Association calls for urgent investment in air cargo at US airports

By Rebecca Jeffrey

Brandon Fried, executive director, Airforwarders Association. Photo: AfA

The Airforwarders Association (AfA) and the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America (NCBFAA) are calling for a State or Federal-backed ‘Air Cargo Support Fund’ to tackle the infrastructural crisis facing the US air cargo industry.

The recommendations form part of a whitepaper following a major national survey of 400 air cargo stakeholders in the public and private sectors undertaken by the organisations, identifying the critical issues and the airports where the challenges are greatest.

The whitepaper, called Safeguarding the future of air cargo: its economic importance and critical need for investment, warns that the negative fallout from a lack of investment could include job losses, as well as delays to shipping time-sensitive products by air, and higher costs to all elements of the logistics chain from shipper to buyer.

In addition to a specific fund, recommendations include implementing airport community systems, encouraging better recruitment and retention through improved compensation packages, and a new industry-wide training programme.

“With airports and airlines experiencing substantial revenue shortfalls over the past two years, the situation is becoming critical with potentially severe impacts on the economy and jobs throughout the country,” said Brandon Fried, executive director, AfA.

“Because of the lagging financials, airports will be allocating the monies of the Infrastructure Act to passengers, security, and safety, leaving insufficient funds to sustain air cargo operations.

“Additional funding, specifically dedicated to air cargo, is urgently needed.”

“The findings in the whitepaper demonstrate major concern from both NCBFAA and AfA members,” said Donna Mullins, vice president, Kale Info Solutions, and Air Freight Subcommittee Chair, NCBFAA.

“We have worked hard to present clear recommendations but these will come at a cost and it is vital that the$25bn that airports will receive by way of the Infrastructure Act is allocated across all areas of airport development.”

Failure by the US legislature to act on its recommendations, said the whitepaper, risked: escalating costs for modernisation of airport facilities and infrastructure; continued adverse environmental impacts; industry consolidations and overall job loss; higher costs to all elements of the logistics chain from shipper to buyer; and a continued inability to meet anomalous challenges, such as the global pandemic.

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