IATA welcomes Brussels guidance on air cargo during coronavirus

By Damian Brett

IATA has welcomed the European Commission’s (EC) Guidelines on Facilitating Air Cargo Operations During the Covid-19 Outbreak.

IATA said that the EC has understood the industry’s challenges and provided comprehensive and practical guidance to ensure that permissions to operate are quickly granted and that air crew are able to operate efficiently with exemptions from quarantine measures.

Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and chief executive said: “We are in an emergency and the European Commission has responded with speed and clarity.

“European Union (EU) member states need to act quickly to ensure that the guidance is followed so that air cargo—including vital shipments of medicines and medical equipment—gets to where it needs to be.

“Other governments should follow the EC’s example and implement similar measures so that we can unblock the global air cargo networks on which we all depend.”

IATA said that the evaporation of passenger demand and cancellation of passenger flights has resulted in a reduction in air cargo capacity, exacerbated by red tape.

“Unfortunately, airlines faced bottlenecks in getting appropriate permissions and crewing cargo flights amid quarantine restrictions,” IATA said.

“The result was delays to shipments when time is of the essence to fight the COVID-19 outbreak and keep global supply chains functioning.”

The guidelines call for:

For transport from outside the EU, granting without delay all necessary authorisations and permits, including, where legally possible, temporary traffic.

Temporarily removing or applying flexibly night curfews, or slot restrictions at airports for essential air cargo operations.

Facilitating the use of passenger aircraft for cargo-only operations, including for the re-positioning of air cargo flight crew, medical staff and anyone involved in the transport of goods regardless of the transport mode.

Ensuring that air cargo crew as well as handling and maintenance personnel are qualified as critical staff in cases of lockdown or curfew.

Ensuring that, where possible, sufficient cargo capacity is maintained when regional airports are closed for economic reasons or considering keeping airports open for air cargo only, and in any case ensuring that open airports maintain sufficient air cargo handling capabilities to ensure timely treatment and delivery.

Exempting from travel restrictions asymptomatic transport personnel, including aircrew, engaged in the transport of goods.

Exempting from containment measures asymptomatic aircrew, cargo personnel and airport personnel working on the ramp, if adequate health protocols are in place.

Allowing fast-track ad-hoc exemptions to address unforeseen situations such as sudden and unforeseen emergency operations.

Allowing ramp personnel to do their work both safely as well as efficiently, by providing staff with guidance on health precautions in an air cargo environment and supporting them with appropriate supplies of hygiene products.

Encouraging that cargo and express airlines exceptionally reserve capacity for the supply of essential goods, in particular medical and emergency supplies, and applying reasonable shipping rates for such supplies.

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