The Airforwarders Association (AfA) and the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America (NCBFAA) have issued a joint whitepaper recommending increased support for the US air cargo industry from the government. The whitepaper follows a national survey of air cargo stakeholders by the two associations, identifying the industry’ greatest challenges.

A Northwest Airline Cargo Boeing 747. The Airforwarders Association says lack of funding poses a risk for the US air cargo industry.
Boeing 747-251F-SCD, Northwest Airlines Cargo AN0205245 | © JetPix via Wikimedia Commons

The Airforwarders Association and NCBFAA’s recommendations

The two associations released the whitepaper, titled Safeguarding the future of air cargo: its economic importance and critical need for investment, earlier this week. The paper calls for an ‘Air Cargo Support Fund’ backed by the US government, be it at the federal or state level, to tackle the infrastructural crisis facing the air cargo industry in the country.

The AfA’s executive director Brandon Fried said that airports and airlines in the US have suffered significant revenue loss during the last two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and “the situation is becoming critical with potentially severe impacts on the economy and jobs throughout the country.” According to him, the $25 billion granted to airports by the Infrastructure Act in 2021 will be allocated primarily to passengers, security and safety, leaving insufficient funds to sustain air cargo operations.

The recommendations outlined in the paper include implementing airport community systems, improved compensation packages to encourage better recruitment and retention, and a new industry-wide training program, among others.

An American Airlines hangar at JFK International Airport
Looking at American Airlines Hangar 10 across from the Federal Circle AirTrain station at the north end of John F. Kennedy International Airport, on Cargo Service Road east of Federal Circle near South Ozone Park, Queens. | © Tdorante10 via Wikimedia Commons

A nationwide survey of air cargo stakeholders

The whitepaper’s release follows a major nationwide survey of 400 air cargo stakeholders in the public and private sectors undertaken by the AfA and NCBFAA over the past 18 months. The survey’s goal was to identify the critical issues faced by the US air cargo industry, and which airports face the greatest challenges.

The paper warns that a lack of urgent investment in the industry could result in job losses, delays in the shipping of time-sensitive products, and higher costs for all elements of the logistics chain. It also warns that a lack of legislature to act on its recommendations could result in escalating costs for the modernization of airports and infrastructure, adverse environmental impacts, industry consolidations, and inability to meet anomalous challenges such as the pandemic.

“The findings in the whitepaper demonstrate major concern from both NCBFAA and AfA members,” said Donna Mullins, Vice President, Kale Info Solutions, and Air Freight Subcommittee Chair, NCBFAA. “We have worked hard to present clear recommendations but these will come at a cost and it is vital that the USD25 billion that airports will receive by way of the Infrastructure Act is allocated across all areas of airport development.”

The full paper can be read here.

Do you agree with the AfA and NCBFAA’s joint whitepaper calling for the US government to invest more funds to support the air cargo industry in its recovery from the pandemic? Let us know down below!

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