Air Cargo and the Facilitation of Essential Trade
As the coronavirus outbreak continues, trade remains an essential activity. Air cargo plays an important role in the international trade of essential items such as medicine, medical equipment, and food. Prior to the outbreak, about 40% of annual global air cargo was transported via passenger aircraft. Due to the extreme lack in passenger demand and the grounding of passenger aircrafts, cargo capacity has declined severely. Several airlines have began using passenger aircraft for cargo or filling low-occupancy flights with critical supplies and other cargo. Post COVID-19, the resumption of safe passenger air travel will require coordination between industry and government and the establishment of new policies and regulations that protect safety and ensure the flow of goods along the supply chain.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) urges governments to take the following actions regarding air cargo during the COVID-19 crisis:
- “Exclude air cargo operations from any COVID-19-related travel restrictions, to ensure life-saving medical products can be transported without disruptions
- Ensure that standardized measures are in place so that air cargo can continue to move around the world with minimal disruptions
- Exempt air cargo crew members, who do not interact with the public, from 14-day quarantine requirements
- Support temporary traffic rights for cargo operations where restrictions may apply
- Remove economic impediments, such as overfly charges, parking fees, and slot restrictions to support air cargo operations during these unprecedented times”
The Resumption of Air Travel
The IATA Medical Advisory Group has been discussing various strategies to be implemented when passenger aviation services resume. The group published a report that explored what the resumption of international travel would look like. The measures included temperature screening employed both at departure and arrival, symptom screening, physical distancing through modified airport protocols, the provision of personal protective equipment to all crew members and airline staff, strict cleaning and disinfection procedures, and COVID-19 testing.