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Return of international flights offers no reprieve for air freight cost

Kirk Coningham, CEO at Australian Logistics Council, says the return of international flights in Victoria from 8 April will only have a marginal impact on inflated air freight costs.

“The scale of operations will not be sufficient to meet increasing demand for airfreight for the foreseeable future,” he said.

Around 82 per cent of all airfreight is carried via passenger aircraft, Kirk estimated.

“Often this is inherently inefficient, particularly where wide bodied jets are not in use,” he said.

During the height of the lockdown in 2020, air freight prices skyrocketed as passenger planes were cancelled and the demand for space grew exponentially.

The Federal Government has since extended its International Freight Assistance Mechanism (IFAM) – a temporary measure to help restore critical global supply chains impacted by COVID-19 – until the end of September.

IFAM has been identifying demand for freight space on outbound and inbound flights, while working with airlines and the industry to increase flights and restore broken supply chains.

Kirk says IFAM may need to be extended further.

“Ultimately, we need a far more efficient airfreight approach with dedicated freighters and ongoing support from governments including lifting curfew regulations around airports and distribution centres,” he said.

International flights will start at an arrivals cap of 800 people per week and scale up to 1120 per week, subject to capacity and the completion of ventilation works.

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