Abu Dhabi: Middle Eastern carriers reported a cargo decline of 14.1 per cent in the month of March in newly released data by IATA, with cargo capacity flown also down by 20 per cent.
Globally, cargo demand and capacity was down 15.2 per cent and 22.7 per cent respectively, with the cargo industry continuing to see its supply chains severely disrupted as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
“At present, we don’t have enough capacity to meet the remaining demand for air cargo. Volumes fell by over 15% in March compared to the previous year. But capacity plummeted by almost 23%,” said said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO.
“The gap must be addressed quickly because vital supplies must get to where they are needed most. For example, there is a doubling of demand for pharmaceutical shipments that are critical to this crisis,” he added.
Juniac also called for the removal of bureaucratic hurdles in getting approval for special charted cargo flights.
“With most of the passenger fleet sitting idle, airlines are doing their best to meet demand by adding freighter services, including adapting passenger aircraft to all-cargo activity.
“Governments must cut the red tape needed to approve special flights and ensure safe and efficient facilitation of crew,” he added.
“The capacity crunch will, unfortunately, be a temporary problem. The recession will likely hit air cargo at least as severely as it does the rest of the economy. To keep the supply chain moving to meet what demand might exist, airlines must be financially viable. The need for financial relief for airlines by whatever means possible remains urgent,” he said.
In terms of cargo routes from the Middle East, routes to Europe and Asia were down by 20 per cent, with routes to cargo down by 30 per cent.