Fears over air freight movement are rising as government efforts to stem the rising tide of COVID-19 infection in Canada intensify.
Those fears are increasing even though new air travel restrictions announced this morning by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will not be applied to trade or businesses.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) noted Monday morning that the combination of dramatic travel restrictions and the subsequent collapse of the industry’s passenger sector has “severely limited cargo capacity.”
Passenger planes are a major mover of air freight cargo, which includes medicines, medical equipment and a wide-range of time-sensitive goods.
Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO, noted in a press release that more than 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,” de Juniac said. “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.”
The IATA is therefore pushing for governments to take a number of actions to ensure the continued free flow of air freight.
Those measures include, excluding air cargo operations from any COVID-19-related travel restrictions, exempting air cargo crew from 14-day quarantine requirements and removing overfly charges, slot restrictions and other economic impediments for air cargo operations.
Trudeau said in his press briefing that only four airports in Canada will now receive international flights: Vancouver International Airport, Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, Montreal’s Trudeau Airport and Calgary International Airport.