Monday, May 4, 2020

Postal Services Union and Airline Lobby Call for Help to Maintain Airfreight Services

Shortage of Space and Rising Traffic Levels and Costs Hitting Industry
Shipping News Feature

WORLDWIDE – One side effect of the current crisis is the way that the huge variety of transport and logistics associations, lobby groups and other various industry representatives have kept themselves busy, all pushing to get their members and clients' interests to the top of the heap. From road haulage to ocean shipping we have witnessed a flurry of open letters and press releases.

One group which has certainly not been idle in lockdown, understandably given the size of their members problems, is the International Air Transport Association (IATA) which, having appealed to international governments more than once a week since the pandemic started to creep across the world, has covered almost every base, from ensuring the safety of aircrew, siding with unions over job preservation, singling out geographical areas from Europe to Africa to highlight their problems and, just last week, tying up with the Airports Council International (ACI) to seek financial assistance for airports as well as airlines.

Now it is the turn of the postal service as IATA and the Universal Postal Union (UPU), both warning in a joint statement that air capacity for postal services is insufficient, urging governments to do more to support the movement of mail by air during the Covid-19 crisis. The UPU is a United Nations specialised agency and the primary forum for cooperation between postal sector players. During the pandemic, UPU is keeping its 192 member countries updated on global postal service disruptions.

The pair say that owing to the drastic 95% reduction in passenger flights, which are typically used to transport mail, and a 25-30% increase in demand for e-commerce as customers and businesses resort to online purchasing in response to social distancing restrictions, postal administrations are facing a challenge in sending and delivering international mail, in particular, cross-continental mail.

IATA and UPU are calling on governments to facilitate the flexibility that airlines need to meet this critical demand by removing border blockages to ensure trade flows continue, avoiding unnecessary regulations and fast tracking the issuance of permits for chartered operations. Additionally, ensuring adequately trained staff are available to process and clear the mail upon arrival is essential.

IATA and UPU are also working to support posts’ use of cargo flights in addition to commercial passenger flights by providing information on the airlines and cargo carrier status, available new alternative routes and best practices. Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO, commented:

“Airlines have been required to cut passenger services in the fight to stop the spread of Covid-19. So, it’s vital that everything is done to support the smooth movement of mail which is an important component of society.”

G20 governments, at their recent emergency meetings, committed to ‘minimise disruptions to trade and global supply chains’ and identified the need to prioritise keeping air logistics networks open and functioning efficiently. Posts and airlines are cooperating to meet this priority by ensuring that reliable operations continue throughout the pandemic and UPU Director General Bishar A. Hussein, observed:

“Posts are trusted partners in the delivery of goods, vital medical supplies and essential information on the pandemic. The cancellation of more than 4.5 million passenger flights, the primary means of transporting post, has meant that capacity is scarce, costs more and takes longer. Action needs to be swiftly taken to address the shortfall in air cargo capacity and to keep the mail moving.”