Why have airlines so far proved reluctant to apply for Cool Chain Association accreditation? That was one of the topics being discussed at the association’s fifth annual general meeting at France’s Vatry airport on23-25 May.
“We are puzzled that more airlines have not started the certification process,” admitted Kerstin Belgardt, secretary of the CCA, shortly before the AGM. “Is it that they have issues with the certification process, or is it that they are frightened their own handling procedures would not meet the required standards? We don’t know, but we intend to explore this issue in Vatry.”
The CCA unveiled its Cool Chain Quality Indicator (CCQI) standards in February 2005, but to date only five companies have completed the certification programme, which is independently managed by German standards body, Germanischer Lloyd. Bilund airport in Denmark and Dutch trucker Jan de Rijk were relatively quick to apply for certification, and in the year since perishables logistics firms HQL in Hamburg and Integra2 in Spain have also become certified, as has one London branch of HellmanPerishable Logistics.
Nippon Express is also working on certification, as is Continental Airlines, though Belgardt admits she has not had a progress update recently from the US carrier. As for other companies, Belgardt speculates that many may be working to ensure their procedures are fully up to scratch before starting the CCQI process. “For a large company, it could be a long process. They would have to check their procedures, go back and make changes, then recheck,” she points out. That being said, the CCA is trying to up the ante a bit by persuading a “big European retailer” (Belgardt declines to be more specific) to certify its operations.“That would bring more attention tothe CCQI standards and put morepressure on transport companies tobecome certified,” she says.
The CCA has increased membership in the past year, adding six new members overall to reach 55 members. However, Belgardt admits that another five companies joined but did not stay members for long. “I think some companies are becoming members to make new contacts and get new clients, and once they do that, they pull out,” she says. “But that is OK. We learn from them while they are members, and maybe they learn from us. And some companies that joined for marketing purposes have gone onto be active members.”
Members in Asia and the Middle East include Emirates, Qatar Airways, Swift Freight, Aargus Global Logistics and Cargo Service Center in India, and Vision International Forwarding in Australia. Other CCA initiatives include talks with IATA exploring possible link-ups between the CCQI standards and the IATA Perishables Handbook. Belgardt says there are also discussions about creating labels for perishable shipments with information about required temperaturesfor perishable shipments.
In addition, the CCA is keen to have information on required temperatures for shipments on the air waybill, but airlines have so far proved resistant to this, perhaps fearing the information could be used to make claims. Belgardt dismisses such concerns. “If they are worried that they can’t meet specific temperature requirements, then how can they keep their perishable customers happy?” she says. But she also says the CCA wants to understand airlines point of view, and for that reason invited Eric Raemdonck, IATA’s manager special cargo standards, to theVatry conference.
Another CCA initiative involves working with Cargo 2000 to see how temperature measurement might be included in that body’s quality standards.“They are as interested in this as we are,and we are having technical discussionsabout how it might be done,” Belgardtsays. – Peter Conway