Strict enforcement of existing regulations should be a priority rather than an outright ban on shipping lithium ion batteries aboard aircraft, says the Global Shippers’ Forum (GSF).
In a joint letter sent to key government and aviation industry figures across the world, GSF and six other global organisations have called for international safety regulations to be enforced at the point of origin – including the battery manufacturer and shipper.
The letter also calls on countries to work together to enforce the rules when batteries that are manufactured in one state are driven over the border to be flown from another. And the organisations want to see significant fines and custodial sentences for those who break the rules.
GSF says the current interim ban on batteries carried as cargo on passenger aircraft is already putting lives at risk by slowing delivery of life-saving medical equipment, and jeopardises security in many countries because a large number of military applications require lithium batteries to operate.
Pressure on airlines to unilaterally ban all forms of lithium battery is becoming overwhelming. This will add to the cost of global supply chains and consumer goods, while encouraging those who flout the law to increase mislabelling of batteries, further increasing safety and security risks.
Alex Veitch, FTA’s Head of Global Policy, said: “We support the airline and lithium battery industries’ view that existing regulations, if adhered to, achieve an acceptable level of safety for the transport of lithium batteries by air. these rules must be effectively implemented and enforced to prevent aircraft and passengers being put in danger.
“Government authorities must take responsibility for those producers and exporters who flout the regulations and must issue tough criminal penalties to discourage others. A ban on all shipping by air would unnecessarily penalise legitimate battery and product manufacturers and could seriously damage their businesses.”
“The biggest danger lies with the growth in counterfeit and non-compliant batteries that are being produced by unlicensed and unregulated manufacturers. These are rarely declared appropriately and tackling this problem requires international cooperation and coordination on a grand scale,” said Mr Veitch.