IATA and Universal Postal Union warn of air capacity shortage

The two organisations call on governments to fast track the issuance of permits for chartered operations

The air capacity for postal services is insufficient as airlines cut passenger flights to stop the spread of coronavirus, the International Air Transport Association and the Universal Postal Union warned recently. AFP
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Air capacity for postal services is insufficient and governments need to do more to support the movement of mail by air during the Covid-19 crisis, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), and the Universal Postal Union (UPU) warned on Monday.

“Owing to the drastic 95 per cent reduction in passenger flights, which are typically used to transport mail, and a 25-30 per cent increase in demand for e-commerce as customers and businesses resort to online purchasing in response to social distancing restrictions, postal administrations are facing a challenge in sending and delivering international mail, in particular, cross-continental mail,” the two organisations said.

IATA and UPU also called on governments to remove border barriers, allow the flow of trade to continue and avoid "unnecessary regulations and fast-tracking the issuance of permits for chartered operations.”

Airlines have been hit hard by the coronavirus crisis and the travel industry has come to a virtual halt. The pandemic has grounded more than half the world's planes and is set to plunge the global economy into its deepest recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

“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," said UPU director general Bishar A Hussein. "Action needs to be swiftly taken to address the shortfall in air cargo capacity and to keep the mail moving."

IATA and UPU also said they are working to support posts’ use of cargo flights in addition to commercial passenger flights.

“Airlines have been required to cut passenger services in the fight to stop the spread of Covid-19," said Alexandre de Juniac, Iata’s director general and chief executive. "So, it’s vital that everything is done to support the smooth movement of mail which is an important component of society.”

G20 governments, at their recent emergency meetings pledged their commitment to “minimise disruptions to trade and global supply chains” and identified the need to prioritise keeping air logistics networks open for efficient functioning.

The Universal Postal Union is a United Nations specialised agency and the primary forum between its 192 member countries and postal sector players.