GENEVA – Efforts by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to raise global standards in cargo handling operations will inevitably benefit trade between African countries – even as the continent grapples to implement the Africa Free Trade Agreement. Industry leaders on the continent have called for a focus on industrialisation that they argue will in turn kickstart Africa’s free trade ambitions, which in 2017 represented less than 17 percent of exports and imports between African countries. This figure is extremely low, compared to similar trade in other regions: 68.1 percent in Europe, 59.4 percent in Asia, and 55 percent in North America.
Of the 55 African Union member states, only Eritrea has yet to sign the African Continental Free Trade Area, which is a continental agreement that came into force earlier in 2019 and covers trade in goods and services, investment, intellectual property rights and competition policy. The immediate objective of the free trade area is principally to boost trade within Africa by eliminating up to 90 percent of the tariffs on goods and reducing non-tariff barriers to trade.
Additionally, an industrial focus is sure to be supported by initiatives such as IATA’s Smart Facility Operational Capacity (SFOC) program, which aims to reduce audit complexity and duplication for aviation cargo handling facilities. Once fully implemented, the SFOC program is expected to assist many fledging African aviation hubs in leapfrog existing cumbersome cargo handling processes.
This new IATA initiative has two components; one of them is the standardised global audit program. IATA has introduced a SFOC audit certification to provide airlines with the assurance that SFOC certified facilities are adhering to IATA’s resolutions and recommended practices in cargo handling and with IATA’s cargo handling manual (ICHM).
It is estimated that precious productive time is wasted annually on redundant cargo handling audits. The SFOC audit
certification program aims to reduce redundant efforts across the industry by 50 percent, through removing the need to validate generic cargo operation procedures.
Through the second component, the audit reduction commitment (ARC), the industry has pledged to reduce audits. Airlines participating in the SFOC program will undertake a gap analysis to determine which audit standards will not need to be assessed for SFOC certified facilities. The revised audit scope is then defined through the ARC.
Individual airlines will also provide clear visibility on the potential audit reduction for SFOC certified facilities, ensuring there is a solid mechanism to eliminate redundant audits.
“Auditing is critical to ensure the global standards that underpin the safe and efficient operations in the aviation industry. IATA’s strong capabilities in auditing have been proven in the successful IATA operational safety audit (IOSA) and CEIV programs. The SFOC program will bring this expertise to general cargo handling operations,” said Glyn Hughes, IATA’s global head of cargo.
IATA has confirmed that Singapore will be the initial focal point for the new cargo handling initiative. SATS Ltd, the chief ground-handling and in-flight catering service provider at Singapore Changi Airport, and Singapore Airlines are the first organisations to join the SFOC program. SATS is the first cargo handling facility to receive the new SFOC audit certification, and Singapore Airlines is the first to join the program by signing the ARC.
“The SFOC certification, which we have worked closely with IATA to refine, allows us to sharpen the focus of our own audits of our handling agents. This zooms in on SIA – specific procedures, enabling even greater emphasis on safety and security. The combination of both the SFOC audits and our own audits serves to provide a comprehensive picture of our service partners’ capabilities and operational quality, while improving audit efficiency for us and our service partners,” said Chin Yau Seng, senior vice-president cargo, Singapore Airlines.
“SATS is delighted to be the world’s first cargo ground handler worldwide to achieve the IATA SFOC certification. We are delighted to have Singapore Airlines as our partner and the first carrier to commit to ARC. The certification affirms SATS’ consistent standards and the quality of our service. We hope other airlines will follow this example to realise the SFOC program’s full audit efficiencies for the entire industry,” said Yacoob Piperdi, CEO, SATS Gateway Services.
2019-12-17 08:05:29 | 6 months ago