Tuesday, May 21, 2024
Governments urged to act over lithium batteries

Governments urged to act over lithium batteries

International Air Transportation Association (IATA) Director General Willie Walsh has raised concerns about the failure of governments to properly recognise and address the risks related to the growing transportation of products containing lithium batteries.

The growing movement of these goods has turned what was barely a concern a decade ago into a pressing challenge that demands attention.

“I think it’s been frustrating for us as an industry. We haven’t seen governments understand the full extent of the challenges involved in moving lithium batteries,” Walsh told Air Cargo Week. 

“We need them to move quicker to support what the industry wants to do to ensure that we’re eliminating as much risk as possible.

“There’s always risk. Our industry is great at understanding risk and mitigating it. Last year was the safest year in the history of the industry.

“We’ve worked hard to make sure that the industry is safe, but it’s so much easier if we are working in conjunction with regulators and governments.

“If we identify something, we talk about it and share the information, through a joint experience, we can ensure everyone benefits, maintaining high safety standards,” he declared.

Greater awareness

The aviation industry constantly seeks to identify and address inherent risks, including those that emerge suddenly from booms in specific cargo segments, such as e-commerce. 

However, convincing regulators and governments of the magnitude of the situation around the handling of dangerous goods has proven more challenging than necessary. While there is now greater awareness, the well-established risks associated with lithium-ion batteries require greater urgency to keep the airfreight’s safety record strong. 

“The measures we take would certainly be enhanced and accelerated if regulators and governments had moved at a quicker and earlier stage, so it’s been frustrating, even if we’re slowly going in the right direction,” Walsh outlined. Addressing the reasoning behind the delay in taking action, Walsh blamed it on a “lack of full appreciation” to what the risk is. 

“It’s important that we continue to educate everybody, and that’s where IATA steps in,” Walsh stated. “If we’re working with regulators and governments, we’re building awareness and reducing potential issues.”

Picture of Edward Hardy

Edward Hardy

Having become a journalist after university, Edward Hardy has been a reporter and editor at some of the world's leading publications and news sites. In 2022, he became Air Cargo Week's Editor. Got news to share? Contact me on Edward.Hardy@AirCargoWeek.com

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