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It certainly is all change at IATA, you’ll be pleased to know. The Loadstar has just arrived back from the annual media shindig in Geneva, and cargo is definitely on the mainstream agenda. Tony Tyler mentioned it this morning within the first couple of minutes. (How often did Bisignani mention it, if ever?) Not only that, but Brian Pearce’s forecasts consistently showed both freight and passenger numbers. Freight is part of the fold. 

But yesterday was Cargo Day. And there is change afoot. Good change. 
Well, you might say, journalists are a cheap crowd. It’s easy to be swayed by a cushy press trip. 

Not so. One of the changes that was evident is that someone at IATA clearly took Akbar Al Baker’s recent rant about IATA’s travel budget to heart, and – the cargo bunch at least –  all paid our own way there. (But thanks for the fondue.)

That in itself  – although perhaps disappointing for our publishers – gives the impression of an organisation looking to be a little less bloated, a little less gravy train.

Far more importantly, though, the air cargo industry is supremely lucky to have Des at the helm and a bunch of truly forward thinking guys round him. There is no vanity, no arrogance, no dictatorial stance, just a pure and honest belief in transforming the industry for good.

Oliver Evans and Bill Gottlieb showed up, to give a little Gacag to the crowd. It’s good news on security – Gacag has been well-received, and listened to by the CBP – they’ve even put a pic of Evans on their website, under the title Commissioner Gives Trade Groups Top Priority. Gacag has proven itself to be a useful tool – and has already found a critical role. Which is good, after its loud fanfare launch one year ago. A damp squib would have been embarrassing – but you are starting to get the feeling that a damp squib was never in the picture. These guys are driven.

They even seem to have found a way of keeping the harping handlers included and happy, but more on that another day.

Luckily for us, the CBP’s Commissioner Bersin didn’t quite give Gacag top priority, meaning that Des was able to come to the Cargo Media day, letting Aleks Popovitch off the hook.

Des, it would seem, has some progressive ideas that a lesser man might step away from, such is the potential for headaches. He has grand plans for the World Cargo Symposium, which involve IATA stepping back to let the industry step forward. Whether the more commercially minded parts of IATA are happy to support that is anyone’s guess, but Des is keen to develop it into an air cargo supply chain event, a global meeting of all the organisations involved, a true world air cargo symposium. 

And at the next symposium, the affable Glyn Hughes announced, will be the IATA Air Cargo Awards. I can already hear the groans. 

But no, they are not the normal, money-spinning, self-congratulatory (and of questionable integrity)  “Airline of the Year” type things. No, this is much better. 

Not sponsored, they are for progressive thinking. For things that truly will change the way the industry works. There are not one, but two Green awards – one for energy conservation and the other for reducing environmental impact. There are two social responsibility awards – one, brilliantly, for investing in future leaders, to make sure that cargo has it’s own breeding ground and is not a grooming ground or rite of passage for the passenger people. And one for investing in developing nations. The fifth award is for partnerships in the supply chain that contribute to the success of the industry. And finally, the Game Changer award. Look here for more details. And hopefully they will inspire the rest of the industry to greatness.

So The Loadstar’s first visit to IATA’s Kingdom was certainly positive. The allegedly inhumane capital man, (they’ve got lawyers, you know, so it’s best not to say the name) didn’t swing by, thankfully. So is this the most positive piece The Loadstar has written on IATA? Possibly. 

But before you all start to send in emails saying you prefer the punchy stuff, there are still issues to be brought up. But not today. They don’t deserve it today. But stay tuned.

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