IATA Highlights Challenges with Non-Compliant Lithium Battery Shippers, Lack of Government Enforcement

Rogue shippers’ risk to lithium air cargo safety

Lithium batteries pose risks for air cargo safety because of “rogue shippers” and a failure to enforce regulations, the head of the trade body for the world’s airlines has warned.

Alexandre de Juniac (right), director-general and CEO of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), said the batteries “can be shipped safely if properly labelled and packaged”.

But de Juniac said: “With respect to the safety of air cargo, transport of lithium batteries is the most topical issue.”

“The problem is that the global standards are being ignored by rogue shippers,” de Juniac told the World Cargo Symposium in Singapore.

And the IATA chief accused governments of “not enforcing the rules”— such as global technical standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and IATA’s dangerous goods regulations.

“In some cases, we see more effort going into stopping counterfeit production of Louis Vuitton bags than lithium batteries,” de Juniac added. “Lithium batteries are a safety risk and we need governments to do better at enforcement.”

De Juniac’s remarks came just weeks after the US said airlines would be barred from carrying “potentially hazardous lithium-ion cells and batteries as cargo on passenger aircraft”.

The crackdown means the US is adopting ICAO requirements that have been in force in other countries since 2016.