Strict CASS rules overturned

FORWARDERS and airlines have reached a landmark agreement on changes to the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) Cargo Accounts Settlement System (CASS) in Europe.

Until the recent global financial crisis, the requirement for forwarders to undergo a financial assessment by IATA had largely been dormant. However, the crisis sparked an about-turn by IATA to such assessments. This resulted in even compliant forwarders having to undergo a financial assessment and providing CASS with a bank guarantee, sometimes up to £400,000.

Now, after a meeting of the European Air Cargo Programme’s (EACP) Joint Council in February, IATA, British International Freight Association (BIFA) and International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations (FIATA) have agreed changes to CASS’ financial criteria.

The new changes will come into effect on 1 July.

BIFA’s director trade services, John O’Connell, who led the trade association’s efforts on this initiative, adds: “It was intolerable that forwarders were faced with the reinstatement of this requirement irrespective of the fact that the members in question had been hitherto wholly compliant to the prescriptive payment terms and conditions of the CASS before, during, and after the financial crisis is being put behind us.

“As part of this working party, we consistently articulated the fact that the forwarder is the customer of the airline. Our aim was to ensure that the need for forwarders, which complied with the terms of the CASS agreement, to provide expensive and cumbersome bank guarantees, was lifted.

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