Air freight is being prevented from operating smoothly and at max capacity because of heavy government restrictions, according to industry experts.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has renewed its calls for a coordinated approach among governments to keep air cargo flowing.
Delays in permit approvals, quarantine measures for air cargo crew and not enough support on the ground continue to hamper the movement of cargo flights carrying vital medical supplies and other necessities.
“Airlines are providing as much capacity as they can. Governments need to step up and ensure that vital supply lines remain open and efficient and that there is adequate infrastructure and support available in the air and on the ground,” said Glyn Hughes, IATA’s global head of air cargo.
Many governments and international regulatory bodies are facilitating the movement of air cargo.
The European Commission (EC) issued Guidelines on Facilitating Air Cargo Operations During COVID-19 Outbreak.
The World Customs Organization (WCO) has implemented a series of emergency contacts to ensure cargo border blockages can be responded to immediately, and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has issued a series of state letters urging member states to further facilitate air cargo flows during this time of crisis.
But there are still too many examples of delays in getting charter permits issued, a lack of exemptions on Covid-19 testing for air cargo crew, and inadequate ground infrastructure to and from and within airport environments, IATA says.
The group is urging governments to cut the paperwork for charter operations, exempt cargo crew from quarantine rules that apply to the general population, ensure there is adequate staff and facilities to process cargo efficiently and ensure alternate airports are available even if passenger flights are not operating.
Hughes added: “To keep cargo flights operating safely, airlines need access to alternate airports along all routes. These alternate airports are where aircraft can land in the event of an emergency during flight.
“Because of the sharp drop in passenger flights, some airports that serve the critical alternate airport function are closed or not available at all times.
“A coordinated effort by governments to keep alternate airports operational is needed. If not, the global air cargo network cannot function and vital shipments are at risk.”