The International Air Transport Association (IATA) called on governments to take immediate measures in ensuring that air cargo will be available to support the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since the crisis began, air cargo has been a crucial partner in delivering much-needed medicines, medical equipment (including spare parts/repair components), and in keeping global supply chains functioning for the most time-sensitive materials. This has been done through dedicated cargo freighter operations, utilization of cargo capacity in passenger aircraft and with relief flights to affected areas.

Air cargo is also instrumental in transporting food and other products purchased online in tandem with the quarantine and social distancing policies implanted by states.

The unprecedented travel restrictions and collapse of passenger demand have severely limited cargo capacity.

“Over 185,000 passenger flights have been cancelled since the end of January in response to government travel restrictions. With this, vital cargo capacity has disappeared when it is most urgently needed in the fight against COVID-19. 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.”

~Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

IATA had proposed measures for governments to see air cargo as an essential part of the fight against COVID-19 and take actions, like excluding air cargo operations from any COVID-19-related travel restrictions, to ensure life-saving medical products can be transported devoid of disruptions.

The government should ensure that standardized measures are in place so that air cargo can continue to move around the world with minimal disruptions. They should support temporary traffic rights for cargo operations where restrictions may apply while removing economic impediments, such as overfly charges, parking fees, and slot restrictions to support air cargo operations during these unprecedented times .