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Readers may remember that in March, The Loadstar wrote a blog from IATA’s World Cargo Symposium suggesting that Gacag needed a different strategy for getting its message across.

The blog was triggered by a poll of the delegates, which revealed that 84% of them didn’t know or understand what Gacag does. (For those who still don’t know, Gacag, the Global Air Cargo Advisory Group, was formed to bring together all parties across the supply chain to focus on areas in need of change in the air cargo business. Currently those areas are security, e-freight, sustainability and trade and commerce facilitation.)

Somehow the blog hit a nerve. And Gacag, an orgnisation run by people who are clearly motivated, immediately got in touch. Chairman Michael Steen called, and Oliver Evans, vice chairman of Tiaca and on the steering committee for Gacag, sent the following email:

“Because you are absolutely right (although we do also like to receive flowers now and again), you will receive a ticket to come to Zurich at our mutual convenience. You will be invited to look with Peter Somaglia and me (and our relevant experts) under the bonnet, to see all our security (to the extent allowed by law) and e-freight implementation measures, to understand how our GACAG agenda (and IGAC – our parallel local initiative to bring together and bind together all participants in the supply chain) relates to this day-to-day world and will over time lead to surmounting all obstacles.”

He was as good as his word. Sure enough, The Loadstar last week went to sunny Zurich to look “under the bonnet”.

From the extraordinarily efficient and tight security measures at the warehouse of SwissWorldCargo’s Zurich handler, Cargologic, to the astonishing document room, where piles and piles of paper relating to each shipment are organized, it was quite clear why Gacag is focusing on e-freight and the paperless air waybill. (It did make one wonder how countries that are less efficient than the Swiss and rather more chaotic managed to deal with all this paper. “More chaotically,” remarked Mr Evans, wryly.)

But perhaps the most interesting part was the ‘mini-Gacag’ that the Swiss have organised. Called IGAirCargo (Interest Group), it brings together shippers, handlers, GSAs, forwarders, courier and express, RFS, airports, consultants – anyone in fact, with an interest in Swiss air cargo. It’s not the first organization of its kind (Air Cargo Netherlands is another example).

But it has, on a national level, done what Gacag is trying to achieve globally. It brought to the attention of the Swiss government the importance of air cargo to the economy (one third  – by value –  of Switzerland’s export are sent by air.) It is addressing local issues relating to e-freight and security, the environment, dangerous goods etc. It is even applying for a government grant, which it is more likely to win working together as a group for the good of Switzerland than on an individual corporate basis. And today IGAirCargo is helping spread the message of the industry to the wider public – much as IATA did with its tunnel poster campaign in KLIA – by putting a ULD at an airport bus stop, with some facts and figures explaining air cargo’s contribution to Switzerland (see photo). It is, in short, “surmounting all obstacles”. (Well, give or take a few…)

And perhaps this is really the best way to understand Gacag – and help improve the industry. At the moment, Gacag’s link to countries, and therefore to some of the everyday concerns of the industry,  is missing. It is also, necessarily, run by the few on behalf of the many. Those right at the top of the industry. It does lobby individual governments that could take action to benefit the industry, such as the US, but it does so from a global standpoint. But locally there are many opportunities for businesses to do the same thing. Gacag is the model for everyone to drive more efficiencies locally.

You may feel excluded from the higher workings of Gacag. But you, too, can do your bit in your country. Take the lead. Join the global effort to put this industry on the map. (And let The Loadstar know.)

For more on Gacag and local groups, please read the forthcoming issue of Airline Cargo Management.



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