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IATA’s new platform is open for airlines (including non-members), freight forwarders and third-party IT providers in the air cargo business.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) on 24 March (Geneva time) launched a new platform to support the digitisation of the whole air cargo supply chain.

The IATA Enhanced Partner Identification and Connectivity (EPIC) platform is expected to simplify the complex process of digitally connecting the various stakeholders across the air cargo value chain. This includes enabling the efficient exchange of critical information such as messaging capabilities and identities.

“As the air cargo industry continues to digitalise, airlines, freight forwarders, ground handlers and customs authorities need to be able to securely work together digitally,” IATA said.

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This is a considerable undertaking, the trade association noted, as currently more than 40,000 freight forwarders exchange messages with more than 450 airlines, and 23 third-party messaging service providers. In the absence of a tool for companies to exchange the information needed to make these business links, the process of digitization is essentially manual, slow and unduly complex.

“EPIC is a simple idea,” said Nick Careen, IATA senior vice president for airport, passenger, cargo, and security. “It makes the information needed to do business across a digitized air cargo supply chain easily accessible.”

The timing couldn’t be more important, Careen noted, as the platform is expected to accelerate efficiency gains for air cargo. “COVID-19 has led to exponential growth of e-commerce and shippers are demanding quality services that only a digitized supply chain can provide,” he added.

In addition to supporting B2B processes, the participation of customs organisations in EPIC also supports digital customs clearance processes, particularly the efficient roll out of Advance Cargo Information (ACI) requirements, including Preloading Advance Cargo Information (PLACI) programmes.

EPIC is open for use by airlines (IATA members and non-members), freight forwarders and any third-party, intermediary or IT provider in the air cargo business. IATA noted that the platform has already attracted the participation of 32 airlines, 900 freight forwarder branches, 10 governments/customs authorities, five international organizations and 13 third-party messaging providers.

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