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Governments must ease restrictions on airlines as the lack of cargo capacity continues to dog various sectors.

Following last week’s concerns about services to and from Africa, IATA warns today that now postal services are struggling.

The 95% axing of passenger flights, which tend to carry mail, has led to challenges for the industry that have been exacerbated by a 25%-30% rise in e-commerce demand.

IATA and the Universal Postal Union have urged governments to remove restrictions which have led to blockages, as well as to fast-track the issue of permits for charter operations.

The associations are meanwhile providing postal operators with updated information on the cargo flights that are taking off.

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

UPU director general Bishar Hussein added that keeping mail moving was critical.

“Posts are trusted partners in the delivery of goods, vital medical supplies and essential information on the pandemic. The cancellation of more than 4.5 million passenger flights has meant that capacity is scarce, costs more and takes longer. Action needs to be swiftly taken to address the shortfall in air cargo capacity and to keep the mail moving.”

The call for more capacity follows an appeal last week by Tiaca, urging airlines to put more flights into Africa, where perishables are waiting to be exported and medical supplies and equipment need to come in.

Many carriers have cut capacity to Africa, but few seem able to replace it in the face of “very high operational restrictions”.

A spokesperson for Lufthansa Cargo explained: “We have to face drastic capacity cuts in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. Around 700 of the 763 aircraft in the Lufthansa group are on the ground and, consequently, their belly capacities are not available for air cargo. It is currently unclear when and to what extent services will be resumed.

“Unfortunately, this also applies to flights to Kenya. Lufthansa Cargo is responding to the worldwide shortage of airfreight capacity with the full deployment of all the freighters at our disposal, and their network is being managed, as always, in a highly flexible manner in line with commercial demand and a set of currently very high operational restrictions. This unfortunately led to the discontinuation of freighter services to Kenya and South Africa. We hope to be able to link up these markets again, at least via belly capacities, as soon as possible.”

IATA noted that at recent emergency meetings, G20 governments had committed to “minimise disruptions to trade and global supply chains and identified the need to prioritise keeping air logistics networks open and functioning efficiently”.

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