The airline trade association and battery supply leaders are calling for stiffer penalties to be meted out to ‘rogue’ lithium-ion shippers
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has partnered with the lithium battery industry to demand stricter enforcement of international regulations in the transportation of lithium batteries.
The organisations want significant fines and custodial sentences to be imposed on those who flout regulations.
The call was made in a joint letter to ministers of trade, industry and transport, and directors of Civil Aviation in the world’s largest lithium battery manufacturing and export countries.
The letter demands lithium battery safety regulations are enforced at the point of origin, including the initial shipper and the battery manufacturer.
The letter was signed by IATA, PRBA (the US Rechargeable Battery Association), RECHARGE, (the European Advanced Rechargeable and Lithium Battery Association), the Global Shippers Forum (GSF) and the International Air Cargo Association (TIACA).
The organisations want to implement a joint enforcement initiative between jurisdictions to clamp down on manufacturers moving batteries across state lines to take advantage of regulation loopholes.
Tony Tyler, IATA’s director general and CEO, said: “Safety is aviation’s top priority. Airlines, shippers and manufacturers have worked hard to establish rules that ensure lithium batteries can be carried safely.
“But the rules are only effective if they are enforced and backed-up by significant penalties. Government authorities must step up and take responsibility for regulating rogue producers and exporters.
“Flagrant abuses of dangerous goods shipping regulations, which place aircraft and passenger safety at risk, must be criminalised.”
IATA and the PRBA have repeatedly called upon governments to address the danger posed by the wilful disregard of the international regulations by rogue manufacturers and shippers and to close existing legal loopholes that prevent prosecutions of serial offenders.
A statement by the group said a lack of enforcement was increasing pressure on airlines and regulators to unilaterally ban all forms of lithium battery shipments from aircraft.
The announcement came in the same week Australia’s Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester warned of the dangers of lithium-ion on airlines after a battery in a passenger’s carry-on bag caught fire at Sydney Airport.
“On this occasion the battery caught fire while the plane was on the ground and the issue was resolved. Whilst there was no damage to the aircraft, several passengers did report feeling ill. This incident serves as a warning to the dangers of carrying these batteries on flights,” Chester said.