Airlines for Europe (A4E) and European Regions Airline Association (ERA) welcomed the new guidelines issued on March 26 by the European Commission on Facilitating Air Cargo Operations during COVID-19 outbreak, which provide member states with clear indications on how to ensure that the air freight sector continues to operate despite the health measures in place to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Cargo capacity has dropped dramatically as a result of the travel bans and flight restrictions in place across Europe and the globe, due to the fact that most airlines transport cargo in the bellies of their passenger flights.
Under normal circumstances belly freight accounts for 50 – 60 percent of air cargo. Although it represents 2,6 percent in trade volumes, European air cargo accounts for nearly 30 percent of exports and 21 percent of imports in value, turning the industry into a crucial enabler of economic activity throughout the continent and far beyond.
Air cargo is used as the primary way to transport high-value items, such as pharmaceuticals, and perishable goods, such as fresh fruit and vegetables.
During the COVID-19 crisis, air cargo has become even more essential to ensure the uninterrupted transport of medicines, health care supplies and fresh food throughout Europe.
To ensure the continuity of trade flows, A4E and ERA welcome in particular the operational measures asking Member States to exempt asymptomatic transport personnel (including air crew, cargo personnel and airport personnel) from current travel restrictions and containment measures.