The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is calling on governments to ensure air cargo is available to fight coronavirus.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, air cargo has delivered medicine and medical equipment, and kept supply chains functioning.
The aid has flown on freighter aircraft, using cargo capacity in passenger aircraft and with relief flights.
Travel restrictions and collapsing passenger demand has severely limited cargo capacity, and IATA is calling on governments to ensure air cargo can help fight coronavirus.
Alexandre de Juniac, director general and CEO of IATA, said vital cargo capacity has disappeared with over 185,000 passenger flights being canceled since the end of January.
He said, “The world’s fleet of freighter aircraft has been mobilized to make up this capacity shortfall. Governments must take urgent measures to ensure that vital supply lines remain open, efficient and effective.”
IATA is calling on governments to exclude air cargo operations from COVID-19 travel restrictions; provide standardized measures so air cargo can continue to move; exempt air cargo crew members from quarantine requirements; support temporary traffic rights; and remove economic impediments such as overfly charges or slot restrictions.
De Juniac said, “Air cargo carriers are working closely with governments and health organizations around the world to safeguard public health while also keeping the global economy moving. Today, as we fight a global health war against COVID-19, governments must take urgent action to facilitate air cargo. Keeping cargo flowing will save lives.”
Airlines including Cathay Pacific and Korean Air are looking at deploying passenger aircraft to provide cargo capacity.
Global capacity is being adjusted, with freight forwarder DSV Panalpina adding three flights a week between Huntsville, Alabama, and Shanghai using its Boeing 747-8 Freighter in February.
Dachser Air & Sea Logistics has extended its charter service between Frankfurt, Germany, and China, offering an air bridge between the Americas to Shanghai via Germany using chartered B747s.
Through the Jack Ma Foundation, founder of Chinese online retailer Jack Ma has arranged shipments of medical supplies. The first shipment of masks and test kits left Shanghai for the USA on March 16. The second shipment arrived at Liege Airport, Belgium, with the foundation promising five charter flights a week from Hangzhou through Alibaba’s Cainiao Network.