The Airforwarders Association (AfA) is driving an initiative to help find solutions for five critical issues contributing to airport congestion in the US.
Members of AfA's Airport Congestion Committee (ACC) met last week to agree to focus on developing solutions in the areas of technology and automation; service standards; airport facilities and infrastructure; staffing and hours of operation; and regulatory and paperwork challenges.
In a statement, AfA noted that the five critical issues were identified following a survey of airport cargo stakeholders undertaken by AfA, the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America (NCBFAA), and the Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA).
ACC members will now work on producing a Recommendation Paper with which to approach private, public, and government entities in order to highlight challenges and suggest solutions for cargo congestion issues at airports.
"When we have completed the work, we will be inviting the air cargo industry to come together to implement the needed solutions for more efficient throughput and movement of inbound and outbound air cargo at airports," said Donna Mullins, vice president of AfA member Kale Info Solutions, and chair of the ACC.
"The potential upside of our efforts is enormous with regard to our ability to obtain available public funds for a wide range of capital and technology improvements," Mullins added.
The ACC, which has recently been joined by Airlines for America (A4A) and the Airline Service Providers Association (ASPA), is seeking to drive improvements including enhanced electronic communications linking all the stakeholders at an airport, as well as improved access and on-airport landside infrastructure to accommodate the operating demands of the trucking industry.
Modernized airport cargo facilities designed to facilitate throughput and accommodate the requirements of mechanized handling systems, and cross-training across all business segments to enhance communications and operating efficiency, are also identified as key areas for improvement.
"Congestion at our airports is such an important issue, and by working together as a Committee, we are able to draw upon each member's unique knowledge and diverse experience, to be able to execute a robust plan and achieve our collective goals of improved throughput and modernization of outdated infrastructure with an emphasis on environmental sustainability," said Shawn Richard, director, vice president Global Air Freight for AfA member SEKO Logistics and vice-chair of the ACC.
The members of the 35-strong ACC, comprising companies from across the supply chain, including airports, airlines, ground handlers, forwarders, and trucking and tech companies, have been tasked with prioritizing and suggesting solutions using a list of evaluation criteria including costs, applicability, and ease of implementation, urgency, and timelines.
"Truck congestion caused by cargo handling delays at major airport cargo facilities continues to cost our members significant financial resources and lost productivity," said Brandon Fried, executive director, The Airforwarders Association. "This initiative will help us identify causes while providing a foundational document to share with government officials in creating solutions to the challenge."