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TIACA urges governments to facilitate flow of air cargo to fight COVID-19

As efforts to facilitate the movement of cargo amidst the COVID-19 outbreak begin to achieve results, TIACA has called for governments to enable the smoother transportation of air cargo to help combat the health crisis.

Air cargo needs support during COVID-19

The International Air Cargo Association (TIACA) has reported that efforts to facilitate the flow of air cargo across the globe are achieving substantial results through the work of the ‘COVID-19 Technical Group’, created by ICAO.

The group includes experts from the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Airports Council International (ACI) and the Global Express Association (GEA). The World Customs Organization (WCO) is also set to join the group in the coming weeks.

Written in cooperation with the ICAO Technical Group, the state letter sent by ICAO to all member states on 18 March 2020 is an important step forward, highlighting the vital nature of air cargo during this time of crisis. Specifically, it urges “the facilitation of entry, departure and transit of aircraft engaged in relief flights and to implement all measures to facilitate the receipt of aid, including overflight and landing rights and necessary privileges and immunities for relief units”.

Secretary General of TIACA, Vladimir Zubkov, said: “It’s a very resolute message to the states and we are seeing some initial results. It’s a collective effort and we are working tirelessly to ensure that ICAO member states commit to taking action. On 23 March 2020, for instance, I received a letter from the Russian authorities that specifically stated that flight crews were exempt from the 14-day quarantine.”

TIACA also wrote to the Ministers of Transport of Somalia and Djibout, asking them to reconsider their decisions to include air cargo in the ban on all international flights within their respective countries, which is being followed up together with IATA and ICAO Regional Offices.

Steven Polmans, Chairman of TIACA, said: “To expand the coverage, we invited both TIACA members and those who are not, to contribute by specifying their problems, and received already inputs from airlines, airports and logistics companies. It will be used in working with our international partners.”

Several countries have already introduced measures to issue exemptions for crew members of cargo flights from quarantine and allow all cargo flights to continue operation, but there is still an enormous amount of work to be done in order to smoothly facilitate the movement of air cargo across the globe.

Additionally, TIACA has raised other issues with decision-makers and the international community, including the following:

  • The existing structure of commercial rights within bilateral and multilateral agreements imposes restrictions on the necessity for quick change in air routes: The need to allow airlines to quickly change the geography of the flights depending on the urgency of deliveries
  • Slots at airports remain a problem: Airports must release slots for cargo operations
  • Some countries do not allow transit of certain goods through their territories.

The COVID-19 situation is developing extremely quickly, but the ICAO Technical Group and TIACA – as the voice of air cargo – have come together in this unprecedented crisis to put forward concrete solutions and provide information to all stakeholders. 

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