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Lithium Batteries: IATA Advocates Stronger Enforcement Of Regulations

Willie Walsh
Director General, IATA, Willie Walsh

June 22, (THEWILL) – With the rapid increase in global demand for lithium batteries, which market is growing at 30% annually, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has again called on governments to step-up enforcement of safety regulation for the transport of lithium batteries.

This, according to IATA, should include stiffer penalties for rogue shippers and the criminalisation of egregious or willful offences.

IATA, therefore, called on governments to further support the safe carriage of lithium batteries by developing and implementing global standards for screening, fire-testing and incident information sharing.

The call was made at the 78th IATA Annual General Meeting and World Air Transport Summit, which was held in Doha, Qatar.

As with many products shipped by air, effective standards, globally implemented, are needed to ensure safety.

IATA equally asked governments to shore up those activities with additional measures, such as: development of safety-related screening standards and processes for lithium batteries; development of specific standards and processes by governments to support the safe transport of lithium batteries, like those that exist for air cargo security, will help provide an efficient process for compliant shippers of lithium batteries.

The body insisted that it is critical that these standards and processes be outcome based and globally harmonised.

“Development and implementation of a fire-testing standard that addresses lithium battery fire containment.

Governments should develop a testing standard for fires involving lithium batteries to evaluate supplementary protection measures over and above the existing cargo compartment fire suppression systems.”

“Enhance safety data collection and sharing information between governments. Safety data is critical to understanding and managing lithium battery risks effectively. Without sufficient relevant data, there is little ability to understand the effectiveness of any measures. Better information sharing and coordination on lithium battery incidents among governments and with the industry is essential to help manage lithium battery risks effectively.”

These measures, IATA advised, would support significant initiatives by airlines, shippers and manufacturers to ensure lithium batteries can be carried safely.

“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”, said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.