Friday, March 20, 2020

International Freight Forwarding Group Agrees Air Cargo Proposals to Beat Covid-19

Wholehearted Support for IATA from FIATA
Shipping News Feature

WORLDWIDE – The International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations (FIATA) and its National Association Members, who are at the centre of the international trade logistic and supply chain management process, have backed proposals to ensure essential traffic flows via air cargo are unaffected by the global spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus.

FIATA points out that at this time all methods of the international movement of goods in trade have been impacted. However, airfreight is probably one of the key movers in international freight that has been most dramatically affected by government’s restrictions and overnight embargoes to the movement of people across borders, with daily flight cancellations and fleets near to being fully grounded.

It is commonly understood that International airfreight provides the opportunity to deliver goods in the just in time (JIT) concept inherent in most modern business models. The disruption to the aviation sector is now one of the greatest threats to the timely delivery of life saving medical supplies and key components to sectors identified as vital to economic security.

On this matter FIATA notes and supports the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Media release which criticises governments which do not appear to clearly understand that short term decisions will exacerbate the immediate and short-term ability of economies to meet the challenge of Covid-19 containment and then the economic rebuild.

As to those two critical needs, air cargo is vital in delivering emergency relief, medical technical infrastructure components and keeping global supply chains functioning with JIT intervention. Such delivery has been traditionally through dedicated cargo aircraft and high utilisation of capacity in passenger aircraft (belly hold).

With passenger aircraft now denied cross border access such belly hold capacity has significantly declined, rates have become exorbitant and suppliers, through their international freight forwarder partners, are now seeking to move goods through other compromised logistic chains. As international airfreight is instrumental in transporting perishable, short shelf life goods and medical supplies it is time for all governments to address decisions that are counterproductive to the fight of Covid-19

FIATA supports the IATA objective comments that governments must see air cargo as an essential part of the fight against COVID- 19 and future economic rebuild and take the actions we outlined in our piece earlier in the week, noting the commentary of the IATA Director General and CEO to the effect:

“Over 185,000 passenger flights have been cancelled since the end of January in response to government travel restrictions. With this, vital cargo capacity has disappeared when it is most urgently needed in the fight against Covid-19. The world’s fleet of freighter aircraft has been mobilised to make up this capacity shortfall. Governments must take urgent measures to ensure that vital supply lines remain open, efficient and effective,”

FIATA also sees particular merit in the IATA request for governments and airport operators to address the impact of their fiscal measures and economic impediments, such as overfly charges, parking fees, and slot restrictions to support air cargo operations during these unprecedented times. This decision is not only sensible but imperative to allow the airfreight industry to consolidate for the rebuild as it will be the international trade sector that will revive economies in an orderly transition back to ‘normal’ trade.

FIATA has recently joined the Technical Group on Joint Actions Related to Covid-19 with actors such as ICAO, IATA, TIACA, ACI and is looking to work closely with the airfreight community at large to preserve an essential service to our societies and economies worldwide. FIATA, in a Statement from its President on 18 March 2020, also encouraged all its National Association Members to ensure the international airfreight industry (as well as other modes) in their respective country is recognised by government as a ‘special category industry’ essential to economic recovery and Covid-19 intervention. It urges Members to address current and future industry and community needs with government.

To this end FIATA now urges all governments, through a common need, to fully implement the World Trade Organisation Agreement on Trade Facilitation. FIATA and its National Association Members and their members are the key to meeting community and economy expectations in these challenging times and the rebuild for the future.