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FIATA–IATA, key partners in adversity - COVID-19 medical and economic impacts

Zurich, 20 March 2020 - The International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations (FIATA) and its National Association Members who are at the centre of the international trade logistic and supply chain management process continue to support initiatives to contain the spread of Covid-19. At this time all methods of the international movement of goods in trade have been impacted. However, airfreight is probably one of the key movers in international freight that has been most dramatically impacted by government’s restrictions and overnight embargoes to the movement of people across borders, with daily flight cancellations and fleets near to be fully grounded.

It is commonly understood that International airfreight provides the opportunity to deliver goods in the just in time (JIT) concept inherent in most business models. The disruption to the aviation sector is now one of the greatest threats to the timely delivery of life saving medical supplies and key componentry to sectors identified as vital to economic security.

On this matter FIATA noted and supports the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Media release where government’s do not appear to clearly understand that short term decisions will exacerbate the immediate and short-term ability of economies to meet the challenge of Covid-19 containment and then the economic rebuild.  As to those two critical needs, air cargo is vital in delivering emergency relief, medical technical infrastructure componentry and keeping global supply chains functioning with JIT intervention. Such delivery has been traditionally through dedicated cargo aircraft and high utilization of capacity in passenger aircraft (belly hold). With passenger aircraft now denied cross border access such belly hold capacity has significantly declined, rates have become exorbitant and suppliers, through their international freight forwarder partners, now seeking to move goods through other compromised logistic chains.

As international airfreight is instrumental in transporting perishable, short shelf life goods and medical supplies it is time for all governments to address decisions that are counterproductive to the fight of Covid-19

FIATA notes the commentary of the IATA Director General and CEO to the effect:

“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. The world’s fleet of freighter aircraft has been mobilized to make up this capacity shortfall. Governments must take urgent measures to ensure that vital supply lines remain open, efficient and effective,”

FIATA also supports the IATA objective comments that governments must see air cargo as an essential part of the fight against COVID- 19 and future economic rebuild and take the following actions:

  • 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

FIATA also sees particular merit in the IATA request for governments and airport operators to address the impact of their fiscal measures and economic impediments, such as overfly charges, parking fees, and slot restrictions to support air cargo operations during these unprecedented times. This decision is not only sensible but imperative to allow the airfreight industry to consolidate for the rebuild as it will be the international trade sector that will revive economies in an orderly transition back to “normal” trade.

FIATA has recently joined the Technical Group on Joint Actions Related to COVID-19 with actors such as ICAO, IATA, TIACA, ACI and is looking to work closely with the airfreight community at large to preserve an essential service to our societies and economies worldwide.

FIATA, in a Statement from its President on 18 March 2020, also encouraged all its National Association Members to ensure the international airfreight industry (as well as other modes) in their respective country is recognised by government as a “special category industry” essential to economic recovery and Covid-19 intervention. It urges Members to address current and future industry and community needs with government.

To this end FIATA now urges all governments, through a common need, to fully implement the World Trade Organisation Agreement on Trade Facilitation. FIATA and its National Association Members and their members are the key to meeting community and economy expectations in these challenging times and the rebuild for the future.    

Media Contact

Stéphane Graber | FIATA Director General

+41 43 211 6500 | [email protected]


FIATA, the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations, was founded in Vienna, Austria on May 31st 1926.  It is a non-governmental organisation that today represents an industry covering approximately 40,000 forwarding and logistics firms, employing around 10 million people in some 160 countries. FIATA has consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations (inter alia ECE, ESCAP, ESCWA, etc.), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and the UN Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) as well as many other UN related bodies, e.g. the World Bank. It is recognised as representing the freight forwarding industry by many other governmental organisations, governmental authorities, private international organisations in the field of transport and logistics, such as the European Commission (through CLECAT), the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the International Union of Railways (UIC), the International Road Transport Union (IRU), the World Customs Organization (WCO), the World Trade Organization (WTO), etc.

For further information, please go to: www.fiata.com


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