THE International Air Transportation Association (IATA), a trade association for the global airline industry, is asking governments to remove supply chain obstacles amid the pandemic as the continuing airfreight delays caused by bureaucratic processes are “endangering lives.”
Meanwhile, Manila’s international airport authority said all airlines with remaining flights will have to operate in just one terminal beginning March 28.
IATA said on Wednesday that its members were asking governments “to take urgent measures to ensure that vital air cargo supply lines remain open, efficient and effective.”
Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director-general and chief executive officer, was quoted as saying: “Air cargo is a vital partner in the global fight against COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019). But we are still seeing examples of cargo flights filled with life-saving medical supplies and equipment grounded due to cumbersome and bureaucratic processes to secure slots and operating permits.”
“These delays are endangering lives. All governments need to step up to keep global supply chains open,” he added.
IATA said governments should remove key barriers by fast-tracking procedures for overflight and landing permits for cargo operations, exempting flight crew members who do not interact with the public from the 14-day quarantine requirement, and promoting “temporary traffic rights for cargo operations where restrictions may apply.”
The association also said governments should remove “economic impediments” such as overflight charges, parking fees, slot restrictions, and operating hour curfews for cargo flights.
The Philippine government placed the entire Luzon island under an enhanced community quarantine, where most are in home quarantine and only essential workers in approved industries are allowed to go to work and transport goods.
While the Trade department had said that all cargo must pass unhampered through checkpoints, business groups said there are inconsistencies in implementing the guidelines.
Several air carriers, both local and foreign, have suspended operations due to the COVID-19.
The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) announced on Thursday that all airlines with remaining flights will be operating at the Terminal 1 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
Such airlines include Etihad Airways, Gulf Air, Oman Air, Korean Airlines, Asiana Airlines, China Airlines, Hong Kong Air, Eva Air, Japan Airlines, Jeju Air, All Nippon Airways, Cathay Pacific, Qatar Airways, and Singapore Airlines.
However, Singapore Airlines said it will start suspending flights to and from Manila beginning March 29, 2020.
“Flag carrier Philippine Airlines has also announced suspension of international flight operations starting March 26. PAL made their last flight out yesterday (March 25) of their MNL-SFO (PR104) and MNL-LAX (PR102). Return flights of these two will be on Friday, March 27, 2020 in NAIA Terminal 1. After these arrivals, PAL will cease to operate for the meantime,” MIAA said.
It said local and foreign airlines that have already suspended international flight operations are Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines, Air Asia, Delta Airlines, United Airlines, Qantas Airways, Turkish Airlines, Emirates Airlines, KLM, Air China, Air New Guinea, China Eastern, China Southern, Ethiopian Airlines, Jet Star Asia, Kuwait Airlines, Malaysian Airlines, Saudia Airlines, Royal Brunei Airlines, Thai Airways, Tiger Airways, and Xiamen Airlines. — Arjay L. Balinbin