Coronavirus: Commission issues guidance to ensure essential freight keeps moving by air

cargo

Nafis Al Sadnan, Unsplash)

This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.


The European Commission calls on EU Member States to support air cargo operations during the coronavirus crisis. The new guidance recommends operational and organisational steps to keep essential transport flows moving, including medical supplies and personnel.

Commissioner for Transport Adina Vălean declared: “Air cargo amounts to approximately 35% of world trade by value and is a key part of freight transport. It keeps global supply chains functioning for many of the most high-value materials and it is a critical complement to the transport of freight by land and sea. We are providing concrete measures to keep such services running, including on passenger planes. Time-sensitive products, such as medicines, need to be flown. The guidelines adopted today have also recommendations on removing or showing flexibility in night curfews or slot restrictions at airports, and also special measures for air cargo personnel.”

The measures include inviting Member States to grant temporary traffic rights for additional cargo operations from outside the EU if restrictions would normally apply, even if these cargo operations are conducted with passenger aircraft. Member States are also advised to temporarily remove night curfews and/or slot restrictions at airports for essential air cargo operations, and to facilitate the use of passenger aircraft for cargo-only operations. Aircrew flying the aircraft should be exempted from travel restrictions if they do not show symptoms.

It is crucial that open airports have sufficient capacity to handle air cargo, and put in place special measures for transport personnel involved in the transport of goods.

These exceptional measures will be temporary for the duration of the coronavirus crisis.

Any restrictions incompatible with Union law must be lifted. The Commission is also calling on all third countries to refrain from unnecessary restrictions on air cargo operations, in particular those incompatible with agreements in place. This is in the common interest of supply chain continuity for goods, including essential ones, such as highly specialised, urgent and critical products such as medical supplies.

Background

Continued and uninterrupted air cargo services are vital for the economy and for fighting the coronavirus. European and global supply chains depend on them, and air cargo should be able to continuously deliver products such as food, medical supplies and other products, which are critical to the functioning of vulnerable supply chains. The Guidelines for border management measures to protect health and ensure the availability of goods and essential services adopted by the European Commission on 16 March 2020, stress the principle that all EU internal borders should stay open to freight, and that the supply chains for essential goods continue to function. Member States should fully implement these guidelines at all internal border-crossings.

The Communication on the implementation of green lanes adopted by the European Commission on 23 March 2020 is intended to ensure continuous flow of goods in a cooperative manner across the EU to ensure all freight, including but not limited to essential goods such as food and medical supplies, gets to its destination quickly, without any delays.

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