Last reviewed 30 March 2020

The European Commission has called on EU Member States to support air cargo operations during the coronavirus crisis.

The new guidance, Facilitating Air Cargo Operations During COVID-19 Outbreak can be found at ec.europa.eu.

It recommends operational and organisational steps to keep essential transport flows moving, including medical supplies and personnel.

Transport Commissioner Adina Vălean said: “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.”

The Commission is therefore providing concrete measures to keep such services running, she went on, including on passenger planes.

Recognising that time-sensitive products, such as medicines, need to be flown, the new guidelines include recommendations on removing or showing flexibility in night curfews or slot restrictions at airports, and also special measures for air cargo personnel.

For example, 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.

Noting that the exceptional measures will be temporary for the duration of the coronavirus crisis, the Commissioner concluded: “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.”