Qatar Airways Cargo partners with the Australian government to restore critical global supply chains through the International Freight Assistance Mechanism (IFAM). The IFAM is an initiative by the Australian Government that has been launched to help restore critical global supply chains for high-value Australian agricultural and fisheries producers, who have been heavily impacted by Covid-19 containment measures around the world.
Through this initiative, the Australian Government is partially offsetting the cost of airfreight – reducing airfreight and freight forwarding costs for exporters and ensuring businesses and exporters in the country can swiftly transport their produce on flights and to international customers.
Through IFAM’s mechanism, Qatar Airways Cargo will offer block space capacity and charters for Australian exports like seafood, meat, dairy and horticulture such as premium fruits, packaged salads and vegetables on flights from Melbourne, Sydney and Perth with more departure points to be added based on demand and freight optimisation. For other Australian destinations like Brisbane and Adelaide, trucking options are available to the online points. The exports will be transported on Qatar Airways network to the Middle East including Qatar and many destinations in Europe.
On the import side, the flights will bring in medicines, medical supplies and equipment to support Australia’s fight against Covid-19. The carrier currently operates two Boeing 777 freighters, nine Boeing 777 freight-only passenger flights and 18 Airbus A350 belly-hold cargo flights each week to and from Australia, offering a combined cargo capacity of more than 750 tonnes each way.
Qatar Airways Group chief executive, Akbar Al Baker, said: “Air cargo is crucial during times of crisis and we are glad to support the Australian Government and businesses in the fight against the pandemic. Through our passenger flights and freighters from Australia, we are offering registered exporters over 750 tonnes of cargo capacity each week for their high value fresh produce. In times of crisis, we need to be able to adapt quickly and we are proud to be part of this initiative that supports global trade.”
The Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Michael McCormack MP, said: “The Covid-19 crisis has led to major air freight shortages and disrupted supply chains around the world. Appointment of these airlines [such as Qatar Airways Cargo] will help kick-start regular cost effective services to key export markets and enhance the capacity for full freight flights of agricultural products from regional locations. The quicker we can get our products off the farm and onto airplanes, the more Australian jobs we can save and the quicker our agricultural exporters can bounce back.”
The airline continues to operate a significant cargo schedule with approximately 100 flights per day. During the past month the cargo operator has worked closely with governments and NGOs to transport over 100,000 tonnes of medical and aid supplies to impacted regions around the world on both scheduled and charter services, the equivalent of roughly 1,000 fully loaded Boeing 777 freighters. Freight charters are being operated to multiple countries including China, India, Iran, Kuwait, Lebanon, France, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Germany, Poland, United Kingdom, the United States and Australia.
To ensure the safety of its crew and cargo, the carrier has implemented special procedures for ground handling including adherence to social distancing guidelines to ensure there is minimum contact between staff. All of its freighters and passenger aircraft are equipped with face masks, gloves and hand sanitisers for crew and all the crew and staff are screened regularly. Qatar Airways Cargo utilises its full freighter fleet as per schedule and operates belly-hold cargo flights to destinations where possible.