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IATA Launch Targets Digital Collaboration in Air Cargo

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has launched of the IATA Enhanced Partner Identification and Connectivity (EPIC) platform to support the digitization of the global air cargo supply chain.

EPIC simplifies the complex process of making digital connections across the air cargo value chain, including enabling the efficient exchange of critical information such as messaging capabilities and identities.

As the air cargo industry continues to digitalize, IATA said airlines, freight forwarders, ground handlers and customs authorities need to be able to securely work together digitally. This is a considerable challenge, as today 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, IATA noted.

“EPIC is a simple idea–it makes the information needed to do business across a digitized air cargo supply chain easily accessible,” Nick Careen, IATA senior vice president for airport, passenger, cargo and security, said. “And in doing so, it will accelerate efficiency gains for air cargo. The timing of this initiative is important. COVID-19 has led to exponential growth of e-commerce and shippers are demanding quality services that only a digitized supply chain can provide.”

In addition to supporting business-to-business processes, the participation of customs organizations in EPIC also supports digital customs clearance processes. In particular, this will help the efficient roll out of Advance Cargo Information (ACI) requirements, including Preloading Advance Cargo Information (PLACI) programs.

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In accordance with the World Customs Organization (WCO) SAFE program, electronic ACI are data sets of information to identify high-risk cargo prior to loading or arrival. IATA’s PLACI guidelines provide harmonized and standardized procedures for advance cargo information filing to improve procedural efficiency and empower compliance with the preloading advance cargo information regulatory requirements in the United States, Europe, the U.K, and Canada.

When using EPIC, individual companies retain full control of their data with the flexibility to manage how they connect with business partners. EPIC is open for use by airlines, both IATA members and non-members, as well as freight forwarders and any third party, intermediary or IT provider in the air cargo business.

IATA said EPIC 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.