Introduced in 1979, the billing settlement system processed $37.2 billion in the air freight industry during 2018.


By Patrick Appleton

IATA’s Cargo Account Settlement System (CASS) celebrated 40 years of operation on 1 December.

The first CASS was launched in Japan in 1979, just as the air cargo industry was beginning to take shape.

“1979 was really the very early days of air cargo, wide body aircraft were being introduced into global fleets and globalisation was really taking off,” said Glyn Hughes, Global Head of Cargo at IATA. “CASS was introduced at the right time to help alleviate some of the industry issues.”

CASS simplifies the billing and settling of accounts between airlines and freight forwarders. It operates through CASSlink, an advanced, global, web-enabled e-billing solution.

If you think of the world and what it would look like without CASS, it would just be costly, for effectively a back office function

Brian Barrow, Cargo Agency Commissioner, said that the success of IATA’s Billing Settlement Plan (BSP) helped those in the freight industry envisage the role CASS could play in simplifying the business.

“The cargo people felt a little bit left out,” said Barrow. “And as a result, the CASS, came along quite quickly and there was no noticeable resistance.

“The success of the BSP had been such that the Japanese didn't have to be sold on CASS and air freight was big business for Japan Airlines, it was as easy as that. The economic arguments began to convince people.”

In 2018, the billing settlement system processed $37.2 billion and had an on-time settlement rate of 99.996%. 

CASS featured 92 operations serving 235 airlines, general sales and service agents (GSSA), and ground handling companies at year-end 2018.

“If you think of the world and what it would look like without CASS, you'd have 100 airlines in a particular country sending invoices to perhaps five or six hundred freight forwarders,” Hughes continued.

“Those freight forwarders would then have to be sending individual payments to the airlines at different times of the month—there was very little follow up, there would be no efficiencies, no procedures and no processes in place. 

“It would just be costly, for effectively what is a back office function. CASS has a tremendous role to play today and we hope for the future in bringing efficiency to the industry.”

  • For more information on CASS, click here