10 minutes with...

IAG Cargo’s Gabriella Tamasi becomes first woman to chair IATA Live Animal and Perishables Board

IAG Cargo’s Technical Standards Executive Gabriella is the first woman to be appointed Chair of IATA’s Live Animals and Perishables Board. Here, she discusses her experience working with specialist products, recent optimisations within the Live Animals Regulations, and what she hopes to achieve in the position

Could you give some background to your experience in cargo and with live animal transport?

I joined British Airways in 2011, soon after moving to British Airways World Cargo, as the firm was known at the time before it became IAG Cargo. My first job was Global Product Manager for Specialist products, which included our Live Animal product, where I focused my energies. My background before that was in specialist product development, and my experience was very much in the niche of live animal transport.

One of the first things you do when you join a new area is study the regulations and standards how they’re developed. The IATA Live Animal Regulations (LAR) are the international standards for the transport of animals, developed by the IATA Live Animals and Perishables Board (IAPB), so I attended a meeting soon after I joined IAG Cargo as an observer. The following year I was successful in applying for a position on the board, and now I am chair.

How have your roles at IAG Cargo facilitated the moves that you’ve made and your appointment as Chair?

I served on the board for eight years, during which time I was very active. When you’re a board member, you can submit agenda items for discussions and improvements to the regulations. I’ve always submitted agenda items because I want to ensure that we continuously improve the regulations to ensure animal welfare in transport, and optimise what we have in place. I’ve also worked on the environment section of IATA’s regulations, looking at how we put a stop to illegal wildlife trafficking. IAG is a signatory of the United for Wildlife (UFW) Buckingham Palace declaration , and I have been a UFW Transport Taskforce member  and led a taskforce at the IATA LAPB that delivered a section within the LAR that provides some guidance about combating illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products.

Could you give some detail on the kind of considerations and decision-making that IATA Live Animals and Perishables Board undertake?

The most used section of the LAR covers cats and dogs. While we’ve changed certain elements of it, we had never actually reviewed the entire section and how it impacts on other elements of the regulations. I took that project on and last year we delivered a rewrite of the container requirements for dogs and cats. This has never been done in the 40-year history of the LAR and was an incredibly complex project but something I felt very strongly about. I had felt that the regulations didn’t serve the industry as well as they could – they didn’t provide a clear standard, therefore it would be difficult for someone who isn’t a specialist to understand what the requirement is. I tried to rewrite it in a more structured and consumer-friendly way, and I hope that as a result, pet owners and shippers in general will have more clarity on how it works.

Gabriella, pictured middle-right, with Loren, a 21-month-old Bornean orang-utan between Moscow and London
What kind of optimisations do you hope the Board will make over the next two years?

I would like to see airlines take specialist products into greater consideration, and pay attention to training requirements. There are moves towards more specific training in the industry as well, such as more quality assurance programmes aimed at specialist products. IATA developed the CEIV programme, which started out with CEIV Pharma, to address concerns and regulatory requirements from the pharmaceutical sector. IATA has extended the range of these certification programmes from Pharma to Live Animals and Perishables as well, which gives carriers a chance to have an independent validator assess their operations, provide training and processes and identify gaps. The idea is that going through the CEIV programme prevents incidents by ensuring more robust structures in standards. I hope that more carriers will go down this route and put this certification in place.

IAG Cargo is recognised for its long term investment in premium products. All our hubs are GDP-certified and we operate more than 100 Constant Climate stations globally that serve the pharmaceutical supply chain. The LAPB will continue supporting the developments for time and temperature sensitive products, there have been a number of IATA publications issued last year supporting the industry with guidelines and best practice focussed on vaccine transport and we can expect more development in this area.

Our GDP-certified Constant Climate product delivers well for us, it is clear that focusing on quality is a smart investment.

What do you hope your legacy will be as the Chair of LAPB?

I hope to see more women in the industry, and that women who have ambitions for developing standards will recognise that we can break through the glass ceiling and enter positions that for many years we thought were only available to our male colleagues. In a technical capacity, I hope to motivate the members to be more active and work more collaboratively, not just within the board but with other boards as well. I think we need to work smarter going forward, air cargo is a different industry to what we saw pre-Covid. I would like to see more standardisation and move the development of regulations toward  technical standards, with regular reviews, and faster standard development so we can serve the industry better. I’d also like to see more carriers focus on sustainability, preventing illegal wildlife trade, and ensuring that when animals are transported, they are transported safely.

Find out how three lionesses flew from the UK to Europe in January 2021 in a landmark zoo transfer.