Enabling global trade

Airlines transport over 52 million metric tons of goods a year, representing more than 35% of global trade by value but less than 1% of world trade by volume. That is equivalent to $6.8 trillion worth of goods annually, or $18.6 billion worth of goods every day. Find out more interesting air cargo facts (pdf)

Industry response to the COVID-19 crisis

Since the COVID-19 crisis began, air cargo has been a vital partner in delivering much-needed medicines, medical equipment (including spare parts/repair components), and in keeping global supply chains functioning for the most time-sensitive materials. This has been done through dedicated cargo freighter operations, utilization of cargo capacity in passenger aircraft, and relief flights to affected areas. Click below for more information on the specific areas:

Keeping air cargo flying

Visit TACT’s repository to see the status of member cargo operations.

See these guidelines: safe handling of cargo & staff safety during COVID-19 (pdf)

These reference guidelines for ground handlers will help all to remain up to date during the COVID-19 outbreak (pdf)

We are supporting the industry in executing cargo operations using passenger aircraft to enhance shipper connectivity options. Please check the documentation below for more information:

Please note that cargo compartments on passenger aircraft may or may not support the transport of dangerous goods in response to shipper needs.

IATA guides its members on the ramp-up of E-Commerce transport, respecting social distancing and quarantine environments and supporting new shipper channels.

Please refer to our COVID-19 - Dangerous Goods Guidance for Operators (pdf) for more information on the transport of specimens of Covid-19 and alcohol-based hand sanitizers.

IATA works with industry and regulators to review the guidelines and prevent restrictions. See the World Organization for Animal Health guidance related to COVID-19.

IATA provides guidance on the procedures to follow for the preparation of mortal remains (pdf), which had been infected by the virus. Some airline embargoes exist – check with carriers.

Regulatory & operation environment

IATA works with ICAO and other regulatory bodies to ensure air cargo supply chains remain open. We cooperate with states on slot relaxation where restrictions apply and advocate for a fast-tracked charter permit and ad-hoc slot allocation for cargo operations.

We collaborate with the World Customs Organization (WCO) on emergency border contacts to minimize border blockages for humanitarian goods (eg protective clothing, medicines vaccines). IATA member airlines can access the WCO country-specific information by sending an email

The WCO has also created a specific section on its website compiling relevant customs information and actions in relation to Covid-19.

We have been compiling a list of incoming regulations, requirements, and guidance material impacting air cargo, including those related to the COVID-19 crisis (pdf)

Please contact us to subscribe to cargo border updates.

IATA advocates through ICAO and the states to reduce landing and parking fees associated with cargo to keep supply chains open and medical services flowing. 

IATA works to achieve slot relaxation where restrictions apply, including the suspension of the 80/20 rule. We advocate for fast-tracked charter permits and ad-hoc slot allocation for cargo.


IATA has advocated for cargo flights to be exempt from state transport restrictions and cargo crew should be exempt from travel and quarantine requirements. Positive support from ICAO and EU.


Industry action: join the debate

Many industry stakeholders are also helping during this time of crises, we invite everyone to share what they are doing, or propose further actions the industry can take. Join 'Cargo Action' group in the IATA Standard-Setting Workspace 

Register and join the group, 'Cargo Action'. Further guidance to register can be found here (pdf)

Need any support?  

Please do not hesitate to contact us. The entire Cargo team is there to support you.