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FIA18: more cooperation needed on humanitarian logistics

The lack of cooperation between NGOs and the aviation industry when it comes to humanitarian relief logistics projects is costing lives and more needs to be done, delegates at the Farnborough International Airshow heard yesterday.

A panel discussed the future of the humanitarian air cargo supply chain during the inaugural Cargo Village conference yesterday, which was part of the ‘Cargo Tech’ themed day.

Moderator Stuart Smith, director of development and humantarian engagement at CargoLogicManagement said the global spend on humanitarian logistics in 2017 reached $18 billion and felt the air cargo industry has an “obligation” to see how it can improve services it provides.

Aviation Sans Frontieres International general secretary, Pauli Immonen said: “You have the answer (industry), but the big airline carriers and IATA can better come up with the answers as they know the problem.”

He gave an example of when humanitarian logistics didnt work as it should have done, citing the Pakistan earthquake in Kashmir in 2005, when 106,000 people died.

Immonen said he did not want to “name the bad guys”, but said the response to the disaster was hindered over difficulties gaining landing rights, airport difficulties, greed in parts of the supply chain and other complications.

“There is a chain full of actors that complicated your life. Ground handlers and fuel suppliers included, people can be greedy,” he said. “All these middle men are on the way and these are difficult to control, but with strong industry support and lobbying we can help.”

Immonen said the prices charged by carriers to operate humanitarian flights is often too high and in many cases prices are ramped up by operators. “It is not fair to go above what is reasonable and we have seen unreasonable charter prices out there when a disaster takes place,” he added.

He said that some practices are not ethical in humanitarian logistics. “We have seen well respected NGOs using cargo carriers that are black-listed. Normally it is a rush and needs to to get done. There is often poor efficiency and poor procurement,” Immonen added.

He said that if an NGO uses the right carrier it can save them cash but it needs to get the right aircraft for the payload, and get the loading right which the air cargo industry can do more to help with.

Immonen said the aid industry lacks experts with knowledge of aircraft and the aviation industry lacks experts with know-how in aid missions and refugees, which is costing lives. “We need cooperation and need to talk in advance and not in an emergency. The answer is cooperation,” he said.

Smith concluded: “We do not know when disasters are going to happen but we knew where and in what areas it will take place. It is not the unthinkable and I think we need a call for arms to work together to cooperate.”