As the world scrambles to limit the spread of the novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak, the International Air Transport Association (Iata) has called on world governments to ensure that air cargo is available to assist in transporting essential medicines and medical equipment.
In a statement on Monday, the air association said that air cargo had played a critical role in supplying affected countries witch much-needed relief and aid during this period, and that governments should prioritise air travel as a sustained effort to combat the outbreak.
Alexandre de Juniac, Iata chief executive, said the travel restrictions imposed by the world’s leaders had had a severe impact on air travel, which had also impacted air cargo operations.
“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,” he said.
“Governments must take urgent measures to ensure that vital supply lines remain open, efficient and effective.”
The air association also called for the removal of all economic barriers, such as overfly charges, parking fees and slot restrictions.
Additionally, De Juniac claimed that lives would be saved following the increased facilitation of air cargo.
“Air cargo carriers are working closely with governments and health organisations around the world to safeguard public health while also keeping the global economy moving. Today, as we fight a global health war against Covid-19, governments must take urgent action to facilitate air cargo. Keeping cargo flowing will save lives,” said De Juniac. – Bjorn Vorster