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International Air Transport Association (IATA)

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is the trade association for the world’s airlines, representing some 260 air carriers or 83% of total air traffic. The organization supports many areas of aviation activity and helps formulate industry policy on critical aviation issues.

Air freight is carrying less than 1% of global trade by volume but 35% by value with nearly USD 6trn of goods carried by air. This shows how the aviation industry is a key enabler for greater global travel, economic links and trade. Air transport is an essential factor in connecting individual countries to the global economy, helping to improve productivity levels to benefit the national economy. Aviation connects businesses to a wide range of global markets, providing a significantly larger customer base for their products than would be accessible otherwise.

To learn more read the leaflet on the Trade Facilitation Agreement, the Aviation Economic Benefits report and visit the IATA website on Benefits of Aviation

Aviation’s role on trade facilitation

Air freight has proved to be a very timely indicator of overall world trade volumes. Turning points in world trade are often signaled 4-5 months ahead by air freight, making it a leading indicator of global trade performance. Learn more on air freight’s role in indicating overall world trade volumes. Furthermore, quarterly developments in the wider economy, trade and operating environments can clearly be linked to air cargo industry performance. Aviation is therefore both an active player and an immediate beneficiary in trade facilitation.

Measurement of border times for air cargo

The time that air cargo spends at the borders for import procedures can be estimated based by measuring the time gap between the arrival of the cargo by air at the destination until the handover of the cargo to the consignee. IATA has carried out analysis of millions of shipments provided by Cargo IQ members in order to provide a global and regional snapshot of the time air cargo spends at the borders. The latest reports can be found below:

What is IATA doing to facilitate trade?

The tight connection between the global economy and the aviation industry is the reason why IATA is actively involved in promoting trade facilitation, and proactively supporting the implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA). Several IATA projects are tightly linked to the TFA’s objectives and directly relate to some of its provisions, like:

  • e-Freight, a project created with the aim to take the paper out of air cargo and replace it with the exchange of electronic data and messages, reducing waiting times and processing costs at borders and airports
  • IATA Cargo Capacity Building Activities, a capacity building initiative to enhance air cargo trade facilitation in line with the WTO TFA requirements.

In addition, IATA has already undertaken the following actions to support the implementation of the WTO TFA:

  • Active contribution to panels during the WTO workshops in Marrakech (April 2015) and Panama (June 2015), as well as at the WTO 5th Review of Aid for Trade (June 2015)
  • Issuance of an economic briefing paper
  • Issuance of a position paper
  • Signature of a Memorandum of Understanding with the UNECE to jointly promote the concept of trade facilitation
  • Support for the implementation of related capacity building projects such as e-Freight
  • Contribution, with the World Bank, to a diagnostic relating to the implementation of article 7 of the TFA in two Central American countries in early 2016
  • Active promotion of the advantages of adhering to the TFA at international, regional and local levels


WTO Bali Agreement