Overview of TIACA’s Work at The Time of Coronavirus Crisis

posted on 2nd April 2020 by Eddie Saunders
Overview of TIACA’s Work at The Time of Coronavirus Crisis

TIACA has two directions in its work. One is working with the members of the Association by informing them, learning their needs and sharing experience on the most current issues and the second one is to liaise with the governments with the view of resolving issues of importance to the Association members and to the whole air cargo industry.

The second direction today has become of utmost importance because all over the world the governments have taken resolute steps in order to battle the Corona virus threat, and sometimes in these efforts they negatively affect the ability of air cargo movement between the countries.

Air cargo is an integrated industry; hence we need consistent actions and consistent messaging across the industry. There is no better integrator of the industry interests than ICAO, and once we learned that they are establishing a Technical group for joint actions related to COVID-19 we joined it. The group consists of ICAO, TIACA, WHO, IATA, ACI and GEA. World Customs Organization (WHO) is joining the meetings next week as well.

There are weekly virtual meetings and very vibrant communications in between. We already took part in two of them and have submitted our proposals on several issues of importance to the TIACA members.

There are several objectives of these two Groups which are of interest to the air cargo industry from two points of view: to make input and to follow and disseminate information to the air cargo industry. The main ones:

  • drafting guidance material on managing outbreaks that occur in aircraft and airport
  • fostering broad actions by governments and users
  • supplying data for a single source aviation-specific website on COVID-19
  • regular analysis of the economic impact of COVID-19.

TIACA’s objectives within “ICAO Technical group on joint actions related to COVID-19”.

One of the key tasks is to safeguard the functionality of the air cargo supply chain to the maximum extent possible. TIACA sees its role in the ICAO Technical Group as using ICAO’s mechanism to reach out to governments and remind them that air cargo is a significant contributor to the global economy and international trade, and that it plays a very important role in preventing and battling the disastrous effect of coronavirus. One of the major sources for us is information from the TIACA members, especially about the problems they are facing.

What TIACA members tell us and what we feed in the Group

  • The existing structure of commercial rights within bilateral and multilateral agreements imposes restrictions on the necessity for quick change in air routes which are caused by the necessities for delivery of emergency supplies medications and industry products which are of importance for the global trade and manufacturing recovery.
  • It’s important to allow airlines to quickly change the geography of the flights depending on the urgency in deliveries.
  • Slots at airports remain a problem. A good example has been shown by Amsterdam Schiphol Airport which released slots for cargo operations. Other airports would be wise to follow this example.
  • The danger of flight crew to be placed in quarantine after performing flights to destinations which are not considered as clean from the virus and the threat remains very high. Several airlines report problems with training and retraining their crews on flight simulators. Some flight simulators are situated in high risk countries and after visiting these individuals are to be placed in quarantine.
  • Some countries do not allow transit of certain goods through their territories. This involves not only foods, including fruits and vegetables but also other commodities including the masks which initially traveled from Europe to China and now the traffic is reversed, and the masks go from China to Europe and other parts of the world.

What results from the meetings of the Group

ICAO has accepted that the air cargo industry needs support and included in their State Letter Ref.: EC 6/3-20/46 dated 18 March 2020 several requests to the Contracting States, relevant to air cargo, which I would like to quote.

ICAO Secretary General is asking for “…facilitation of entry, departure and transit of aircraft engaged in relief flights and to implement all measures to facilitate the receipt of aid, including overflight and landing rights and necessary privileges and immunities for relief units…”

Furthermore, ICAO Secretary General informs that “…several States have implemented measures to prevent disruptions to such critical operations, by maintaining all cargo flights and excluding crew members of cargo flights from quarantine. There is an urgent need to ensure sustainability of the global air cargo supply chain and in maintaining the availability of medication, and equipment such as ventilators, masks and other health and hygiene-related goods, which are necessary to assist in reducing the public health risk from COVID-19.”

What practical use can we make of the ICAO Group and ICAO State Letters

We have raised the profile of the air cargo industry amongst the regulators and other international organizations.

We have used the positive sides of the joint work of the Group in talking to the press.

We took some practical steps helping our members. As an example, arranged for support in response to the problems emerged in Russia, Somalia and Djibouti where the administrations took decisions which have effectively banned all international flights including cargo charter and scheduled for the next 2 weeks. Using the ICAO State Letter, which was just issued, TIACA’s Secretary General wrote to the respective Ministers explaining why it would be proper to reconsider (linked for reference).

Letter to Minister of Transport of Djibouti

Letter to the Minister of Transport of Somalia

Logistics is a big part in TIACA’s work, and logistic companies are significant contributors to the circulation of the high-value goods through air cargo operations. Their views were also obtained on the issues which ought to be resolved. Most of them are in line with what is presented by the airlines and airports which only confirms that the supply chain is a homogeneous entity in both benefits and problems.

Economic impact of COVID-19 on air transport.

Data has been obtained from different sources, including our new partner CLIVE, Veritas Global, Seabury and certain TIACA members. It was used internally and some was shared with ICAO and other partners. In turn ICAO has produced their study which will be updated on a weekly basis and shared with TIACA and other partners. One of the latest studies on the economic impact is enclosed.

Most of the estimates do not include potential impacts on the international air freight movements on cargo-only aircraft because of the lack of reliable data.