DRogue shippers which continue to send misdeclared, counterfeit or wrongly packaged lithium batteries by air will be rooted out and reported to national authorities, IATA and its member airlines have pledged.

As the April 1 deadline approaches for a ban on carrying shipments of lithium ion batteries on passenger aircraft, IATA has urged governments to play a greater role in overseeing battery manufacture and penalising offenders.

“We are taking two actions,” said Glyn Hughes, IATA Cargo chief. “We are increasing our ability to track incidents – at the moment we are only hearing about them anecdotally, so there may be many more we don’t know about. And we will discover serial offenders who wilfully send batteries without complying with regulations.”

This week a consignment of lithium  batteries, declared as batteries within appliances which can be shipped, was found  after arriving at an airport in bellyhold. While the law has not yet come into effect, the airline in question has its own embargo on the freight.

“When the ban comes in these situations won’t stop,” said Mr Hughes. “It’s imperative that states play a role.”

Lise-Marie Turpin, head of Air Canada Cargo and IATA Cargo Committee chairman, said the cargo executive summit this week in Berlin had agreed action was needed.

“We need to encourage states to criminalise any misdeeds related to lithium batteries. It will take time, so in the meantime we will share incidence reporting and push the battery industry to find better packaging. ICAO has been quite clear it will lift the ban if the packaging is improved.”

The ocean freight industry has come up with a solution to help find misdeclared dangerous goods via technology, which potentially could be adapted for the needs of the air freight industry.

Hapag-Lloyd’s intelligent software uses a database of more than 6,000 keywords to identify conspicuous terms and word combinations in declarations. If the so-called ‘watchdog’ barks, the dangerous goods team check the consignment. Last year the system detected 2,620 cases of incorrectly declared dangerous goods.

“[By misdeclaring] these customers endanger our crews, the ship, the cargo of our honest customers and, above all, the environment,” said Ken Rohlmann, head of the dangerous goods department at Hapag-Lloyd.

Lithium ion batteries (UN 3480, Packing Instruction 965 only) are forbidden, on an interim basis, as cargo on passenger aircraft. The prohibition does not apply to lithium ion batteries packed with equipment or lithium ion batteries contained in equipment. For more information go here.


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