The International Air Transport Association (IATA), and the Swiss-based Universal Postal Union (UPU) have issued a statement warning that air capacity for postal services is currently insufficient and they are urging governments to do more to support the movement of mail by air during the COVID-19 crisis.
The two organisations said the drastic 95% reduction in passenger flights, which are typically used to transport mail, combined with a 25-30% increase in demand for online purchases while shops are closed, has left postal administrations facing a challenge in sending and delivering international mail, in particular, cross-continental mail.
The joint IATA / UPU statement said governments to facilitate the flexibility that airlines need to meet this critical demand by removing border blockages to ensure trade flows continue, avoiding unnecessary regulations and fast tracking the issuance of permits for chartered operations. Both organisations said they are also working to support posts’ use of cargo flights as well as commercial passenger services by providing status information on the airlines and cargo carriers, the new and alternative routes available and best practices.
Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO, said: “Airlines have been required to cut passenger services in the fight to stop the spread of COVID-19. So, it’s vital that everything is done to support the smooth movement of mail which is an important component of society.”
UPU director, General Bishar A Hussein, added: “Posts are trusted partners in the delivery of goods, vital medical supplies and essential information on the pandemic. “The cancellation of more than 4.5 million passenger flights – the primary means of transporting post – has meant that capacity is scarce, costs more and takes longer. “Action needs to be swiftly taken to address the shortfall in air cargo capacity and to keep the mail moving.”
The joint statement noted that at their recent emergency meeting, the G20 governments committed to “minimise disruptions to trade and global supply chains and identified the need to prioritise keeping air logistics networks open and functioning efficiently. Posts and airlines are cooperating to meet this priority by ensuring that reliable operations continue throughout the pandemic.”