TIACA opens its doors to more air cargo players

Vladimir Zubkov mug shot

The International Air Cargo Association, a professional development and advocacy organization, is offering a more affordable membership package to attract small-size freight forwarders and technology startups to its ranks.

The trade association last month created a separate membership category allowing smaller firms to become full members at a reduced rate of $950 per year. To be eligible, companies must meet two of the following conditions: exist for five years or less, employ a maximum of 50 people and have annual revenue of less than $10 million.

A new board and its chairman, Steven Polmans, who is director of cargo and logistics at Brussels Airport Co., are driving the effort. 

Making it easier for small players to join TIACA is important for the entire supply chain — airlines, ground handlers, large logistics companies and even governments — because everyone has a role in the efficient, safe and secure handling of cargo, Secretary General Vladimir Zubkov said in a phone interview. Companies that aren’t aware of the latest issues, regulations and best practices can complicate business for other partners.

TIACA wants to invite “with open arms all those who want to be close to the cargo knowledge, training and networking,” he said.

Companies that tender lithium batteries and other dangerous goods, for example, need to be educated on proper packaging and labeling to prevent accidents further down the chain, said Zubkov, a veteran cargo-airline executive.

“To make sure every participant in the supply chain understands the requirements and plays by the rules, we have to expand as wide as possible the knowledge pool,” he said. “So, it’s not necessarily the dollars that we want. It’s more about expanding the coverage with our knowledge assistance and allowing those who are small to be a part of the air cargo fraternity.”

Expanding membership also ensures that the air cargo industry’s voice is heard more widely, including in policy debates. And companies developing drones, autonomous vehicles and unmanned aerial systems are creating new opportunities for the air cargo industry, TIACA officials say.

Trustee members pay $12,500 to join and $2,500 in annual dues. Corporate members pay only the $2,500 annual fee, according to TIACA’s website. Trustees are allowed an active role in setting TIACA’s agenda, have voting rights, and can be elected to the board and committees.

In another move to bring more stakeholders under the TIACA umbrella, the group has agreed to allow members of Neutral Air Partner, a network of 250 air cargo and aviation specialists that operates like a cooperative, to automatically become full members. NAP is extending the same privilege to TIACA members.

 NAP Chief Executive Christos Spyrou, based in Hong Kong, will join TIACA’s board Jan. 1.