Air, Freight News

Airline red tape thwarts relief efforts

[ March 25, 2020   //   ]

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) warns that cargo flights filled with life-saving medical supplies and equipment have been grounded due to cumbersome and bureaucratic processes to secure slots and operating permits.

It has renewed its call to governments to take urgent measures to ensure that vital air cargo supply lines remain open, during the COVID-19 crisis.

With airlines scrambling to meet the gap between cargo demand and available lift by all means possible, including re-introducing freighter services and using passenger aircraft for cargo operations, it says that governments should introduce fast track procedures for overflight and landing permits for cargo operations, particularly in key manufacturing hubs in Asia — China, Korea and Japan — in response to the increased number of cargo charters replacing withdrawn passenger operations.

They should also exempt flight crew members who do not interact with the public from 14-day quarantine requirements to ensure cargo supply chains are maintained and support temporary traffic rights for cargo operations where restrictions may apply

They must also remove economic impediments, such as overflight charges, parking fees, and slot restrictions to support air cargo operations and eliminate operating hour curfews for cargo flights.

World Health Organisation chief of operations support and logistics, Paul Molinaro said: “Around the world the frontline health workers who fight against COVID- 19 need to be continuously supplied with necessary medical equipment and protective material. It is our collective duty to keep these supply lines open by continuing air cargo operations. The scale-down of air passenger flow is seriously hurting our scheduled freight operations. We call on airline companies and governments to join the global effort to ensure dedicated freight capacity continues to operate on previously high volume passenger routes that are now closed down.”

IATA said that  Delta, American and United have started cargo-only flights, using passenger aircraft domestically and internationally to bolster global airfreight capacity

Air Canada, Aeromexico, Austrian, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Iberia, Korean, LATAM Lufthansa, Qantas, Scoot, Swiss and many other carriers have made some passenger aircraft in their fleets available for chartered cargo operations.

Ethiopian Airlines is playing a key role in transporting COVID-19 medical equipment through its hub to Africa’s 54 nations, including recently transporting equipment donated by the Jack Ma Foundation.

Croatian Airlines has operated a charter flight from Abu Dhabi to Zagreb delivering critical medical equipment.

And China Eastern delivered a significant amount of medical supplies to support doctors in Italy.