The International Air Transport Association (IATA) have demanded vital air cargo supply lines remain open, efficient and effective during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is calling on governments to take urgent measures to ensure that. 

"Air cargo is a vital partner in the global fight against COVID-19," said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO. "But we are still seeing examples of cargo flights filled with life-saving medical supplies and equipment grounded due to cumbersome and bureaucratic processes to secure slots and operating permits.

"These delays are endangering lives. All governments need to step up to keep global supply chains open."

The COVID-19 crisis has seen almost the entire world-wide passenger aircraft fleet grounded; a fleet which normally transports almost half of total air cargo shipments.

IATA CARGO

IATA said airlines are scrambling to meet the gap between cargo demand and available lift. It said some were re-introducing freighter services and using passenger aircraft for cargo operations.

In wanted governments to support by introducing fast track procedures for overflight and landing permits for cargo operations, particularly in key manufacturing hubs in Asia. It called for 14-day quarantine exemptions for flight crew members who do not interact with the public. It wanted operating hour curfews scrapped for cargo flights and the removal of economic impediments. These include parking fees. It also wants the end to slot restrictions.

IATA said airlines were ensuring the flow of vital goods.

"Air cargo is on the front line, not only fighting COVID-19 but ensuing (maintenance of) global supply chains," said Glyn Hughes, IATA Global Head of Air Cargo. 

"But we can only continue to do this if we work together with the support of governments. Keeping supply lines open also supports jobs in local economies for example producers of perishables in Africa and Latin America. We are stronger together."