A former air vice-marshal with 30 years’ Defence Force experience has been appointed to kickstart essential inbound freight including medical supplies.
Margaret Staib will become Australia’s first Freight Controller, as part of a new government initiative to partially underwrite cargo routes previously cut off by the coronavirus crisis.
Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said, “Defence Force logisticians are some of the best in the business and their skills have never been in more demand than now.”
Staib, also a former chief executive of Airservices Australia, will work alongside International Freight Coordinator-General, Michael Byrne, with the latter concentrating on commercially-oriented freight such as premium agricultural exports.
Last week, Australian Aviation reported how 15 airlines have already signed up to utilise the new $110 million “International Freight Assistance Mechanism” initiative, which will initially focus on key markets of China, Japan, Hong Kong and the UAE.
The first airlines and freight companies to sign up are Qantas and Virgin Australia as well as Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Etihad, Federal Express, Japan Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Qatar, CT Freight, Schenker Australia, Kuehne + Nagel, Air Menzies International, Toll and DHL Global Forwarding.
The IFAM will initially focus on restoring critical global supply chains for agriculture and fisheries producers, and will work by partially offsetting the cost of airfreight, reducing airfreight and freight forwarding costs.
Minister for Trade Simon Birmingham said, “Maintaining our airfreight capacity is crucial to keeping businesses open and protecting livelihoods through this crisis and will be a critical part of our economic recovery. By maximising coordination efforts we can ensure our farmers and fishers can get their high-quality produce on flights and into key overseas markets while also bringing back vital medical supplies for Australia.”
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said of the wider scheme, “We’ve already seen lobster from Western Australia, lamb from Victoria and salmon from Tasmania shipped to international ports and markets.
“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.”