Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Vietnam Air Freight and Passenger Speech Extends to Include Ebola Instructions

IATA Boss Says Industry is Prepared for Virus
Shipping News Feature

VIETNAM – As one of the potential commercial rising stars of South East Asia Vietnam is being taken seriously by cargo carriers and logistics groups and International Air Transport Association (IATA) Director General and CEO Tony Tyler was on hand for Vietnam Aviation Day, organised jointly by IATA and Vietnam Airlines, to give the keynote speech urging the country’s government to promote both passenger and air freight sectors and concentrate on upgrading infrastructure.

Vietnam ranks 82nd in the Infrastructure Index of the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report. Among the ten ASEAN states, Vietnam is ranked sixth. Vietnam is addressing these low rankings with significant investments and has announced an aviation master plan to have 26 airports by 2020. Expansion programs are underway at Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh airports, with the new Long Thanh International Airport to be ready by 2020.

While encouraged by the positive steps taken to improve Vietnam’s infrastructure, IATA urged careful planning and industry consultation leading to a well-thought-out regulatory structure in advance of any change to the current structure and ownership of Vietnam’s airports. Vietnam has indicated plans to open its airports to foreign investment and management, and to privatise the Airports Corporation of Vietnam. Aviation contributes $6 billion to Vietnam’s GDP and supports over 230,000 jobs. Between 2008 and 2013, Vietnam’s passenger traffic grew by 96%.

Although air freight accounts for a very small amount of Vietnam’s trade by volume, it represents 25% of Vietnam’s trade by value, or $29 billion. IATA says E-freight will help to improve the efficiency of Vietnam’s air cargo industry and Tyler pressed for the ratification of MC99 which provides the legal framework for the use of electronic document of carriage, paving the way for freight forwarders and airlines to use the e-AWB. He commented:

"A key step to implementing e-freight is the adoption of the e-Air Waybill (e-AWB). While Vietnam Airlines has been able to use e-AWB for domestic freight, it is unable to do so internationally as Vietnam has yet to ratify the Montreal Convention 99 (MC99). I urge Vietnam to ratify MC99 quickly so that greater efficiencies can be achieved in Vietnam’s air cargo sector.”

Tyler’s speech on Vietnam’s air sector can be read in full here but he touched on one other important point which will be the elephant in the room at many a discussion on international transport for the foreseeable future, the potential spread of the deadly Ebola virus. Guidance materials have been developed by WHO, ICAO and IATA which has specific guidance materials on communicable diseases available for maintenance crew, cabin crew, cleaning crew, and passenger agents. He added:

"Ebola is a terrible disease. But it is very different from SARS, which had a devastating impact on aviation in Asia. The World Health Organization (WHO) has advised that the risk of transmission of Ebola during air travel or even when visiting an affected country is low. Having dealt with several outbreaks of communicable diseases over the years, the air transport industry is prepared.

"IATA is working closely with WHO and ICAO in a task force to ensure effective coordination of efforts in areas affecting civil aviation. WHO is the global expert. We will continue to follow WHO’s advice and encourage governments to do so as well."

Last week IATA was a signatory to a joint statement on Ebola which can be read in full here.