Logistics groups urge Australian government to extend cargo support scheme
17 / 01 / 2022
By Damian Brett
Australian logistics firms and shippers have called on the government to extend its Covid scheme to support air cargo operations.
The Freight & Trade Alliance (FTA) and the Australian Peak Shippers Association (APSA) have written to Australia’s Federal government to implore them to extend the Austrade International Freight Assistance Mechanism (IFAM) that is due to end in mid-2022.
The programme offers financial support to airlines to maintain flights and also grants to shippers.
The groups argue that the Omicron variant has delayed the restart of passenger and bellyhold operations that previously accounted for 80% of cargo transported to Australia.
“With dedicated freighter aircraft operating at capacity, airlines are increasingly deploying passenger aircraft for freight purposes and have initiated some new freight only services.
“This has been complemented by freight forwarders who have also initiated chartered services utilising what would otherwise be idle passenger aircraft.
“As a result of this operational environment, air freight costs have understandably substantially increased without the cross-subsidisation and demand of passenger traffic.
“While industry has been proactive, continuity of service could not have been sustained without the ombination of Federal Government initiatives being the IFAM, administered by the Australian Trade and Investment Commission, Cash Flow Boost and JobKeeper Payment schemes.”
The groups pointed to Cathay Pacific’s recent decision to substantially reduce their long-haul freighter capacity, including to Australia and New Zealand, in the first quarter of this year as a result of stricter quarantine measures in light of Omicron as an example of how capacity will be affected.
“Whist we hope that the Omicron outbreak will soon peak in Australia and other key overseas markets, we urge the Federal Government to make contingency plans with appropriate budgetary considerations to continue IFAM,on a needs basis, post the scheduled termination in mid-2022,” they said.