Airmail has always been an essential component in aviation revenues. But limited regulation in this area came only from either the UPU (Universal Postal Union) Congress or the Montreal Convention of 1999.

Issues of common interest regarding the air transportation of mail were addressed through the regular exchange of ideas, joint cooperation, and numerous activities between various UPU and IATA Air Mail Boards. This has resulted in many positive changes and has made it possible for the industry to play an excellent role in the transformation that e-commerce has brought to all of us.

However, unlike cargo, the contractual process between airlines and postal organizations remained unstandardized resulting in a complex network of multiple bilateral agreements or, in some cases, no agreements at all.

Identifying this as a gap to fill, the IATA-UPU Contact Committee kick-started and drafted the first version of the Framework for a Service Agreement in 2003. The document aimed at becoming a standardized departure point for airlines and postal operators to formalize their commercial relationships. Since then, it has been updated regularly.

In 2018, the latest version was approved by the IATA UPU Contact Committee and all relevant bodies. At the same time, the members of the IATA-UPU Contact Committee agreed to reopen the framework task force. Since then, the task force has been holding bi-weekly remote meetings and this collaboration has produced the following results:


  1. An updated version of the framework, with more comprehensive articles pertaining to Performance, Dangerous Goods, Liability and Messaging, and lighter Annex content, leaving this section open for the parties to agree on specific details.
  2. A new approach to the Framework Guidelines, including detailed orientation about how to build up the Annex section (along with instance tables and examples) and tender process.
  3. Promotion strategy: The task force decided to put special emphasis on the distribution and promotion of the Framework, to make it accessible to all industry players and build up the know how that will allow for them to profit the most.

This effort will bring a new level of transparency to the alliance between airlines and postal organizations and is proof of the teamwork and commitment to excellence already in existence.


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