The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is calling on governments to further support the safe carriage of lithium batteries. The association wants to see global standards for screening, fire-testing and incident information sharing being developed and implemented globally.

The challenge is the rapid increase in global demand for lithium  batteries (the market is growing 30% annually) according to IATA, which in turn is bringing new shippers into air cargo supply chains. Subsequently a critical risk that is evolving is incidents of undeclared or mis-declared shipments.

IATA has long been calling for governments to increase enforcement of safety regulations around the transport of lithium batteries. It would like to see these regulations including stiffer penalties for rogue shippers and the criminalisation of egregious or willful offenses.

Additional measures the association would like to see being introduced include: The development of safety-related screening standards and processes for lithium batteries; the development and implementation of a fire-testing standard that addresses lithium battery fire containment; and enhanced safety data collection and sharing of information between governments.

Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General commented: “Airlines, shippers, manufacturers and governments all want to ensure the safe transport of lithium batteries by air. It’s a joint responsibility. The industry is raising the bar to consistently apply existing standards and share critical information on rogue shippers. But there are some areas where the leadership of governments is critical. Stronger enforcement of existing regulations and the criminalisation of abuses will send a strong signal to rogue shippers. And the accelerated development of standards for screening, information exchange and fire containment will give the industry even more effective tools to work with.”

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