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THE INTERNATIONAL Air Transport Association is launching the IATA Enhanced Partner Identification and Connectivity (EPIC) platform to support the digitisation of the global air-cargo supply chain.

IATA said EPIC simplifies the 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 digitalise, airlines, freight forwarders, ground handlers and customs authorities need to be able to securely work together digitally. This is a 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 digitisation is essentially manual, slow and unduly complex.

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IATA senior vice-president, airport, passenger, cargo, security Nick Careen said EPIC is a simple idea.

“It makes the information needed to do business across a digitized air cargo supply chain easily accessible. And in doing so, it will accelerate efficiency gains for air cargo,” he said.

“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 digitised 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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