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European Commission Looks to Keep Air Cargo Flowing

Photo source: IATA

Photo source: IATA

The European Commission last week issued guidance to support air cargo operations during the coronavirus crisis.

The new guidance recommends operational and organisational steps to keep essential transport flows moving, including medical supplies and personnel.

“Air cargo amounts to approximately 35 percent of world trade by value and is a key part of freight transport… We are providing concrete measures to keep such services running, including on passenger planes. Time-sensitive products, such as medicines, need to be flown,” Commissioner for Transport Adina Vălean said.

The measures include inviting member states to grant temporary traffic rights for additional cargo operations from outside the EU if restrictions would normally apply, even if these cargo operations are conducted with passenger aircraft.

Member states are also advised to temporarily remove night curfews and/or slot restrictions at airports for essential air cargo operations, and to facilitate the use of passenger aircraft for cargo-only operations. Aircrew flying the aircraft should be exempted from travel restrictions if they do not show symptoms.

The Commission said the measures will be temporary for the duration of the coronavirus crisis.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) welcomed the Commission’s guidelines on facilitating air cargo operations during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The EC has understood the industry’s challenges and provided comprehensive and practical guidance to ensure that permissions to operate are quickly granted and that air crew are able to operate efficiently with exemptions from quarantine measures,” the association said.

IATA Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac underlined that EU member states need to act quickly to ensure that the guidance is followed so that air cargo — including vital shipments of medicines and medical equipment — “gets to where it needs to be”.

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