Air freight support

The Australian Government is setting up an International Freight Assistance Mechanism (IFAM) to keep key international freight links with trading partners open for goods coming into, and going out of Australia.

The purpose of IFAM isto help :

  • support the efforts of businesses to re-establish key global supply chains disrupted by COVID-19 (including in the agricultural, seafood and healthcare sectors)
  • secure items critical to the ongoing health response in Australia (such as medical supplies, medicines and personal protective equipment).

A key feature of IFAM is the support it provides for international freight movements. This includes aggregating cargo loads, negotiating with airlines, working with partner governments to facilitate clearances, and improving transparency around freight costs during the pandemic.

IFAM is a temporary, targeted, emergency measure to help Australian businesses deal with the COVID-19 crisis.


On outbound flights, perishable products where businesses have important and established international customers are the priority.

Eligible products may include:

  • seafood, including lobsters
  • premium meat, including beef, sheep meat and pork
  • dairy, including fresh milk and yoghurt
  • horticulture, including premium fruits and packaged salad or vegetables.

Ineligible goods

Given the economics of airfreight, and the focus of IFAM to maintain pre-COVID air freight arrangements, some products may not be eligible. These will likely include:

  • products that are heavy, bulky and are conventionally shipped by sea
  • trade to markets not open to airfreight
  • trade by airfreight that is not likely to be economic on an ongoing basis.

Destination countries

Target countries will be determined by demand and freight optimisation criteria as advised by the International Freight Coordinator General. This could include sources of critical medical supplies, maintaining connections to key international freight hubs and maintaining vital global supply chains.

IFAM will initially focus on the key markets of China, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and the Middle East.

Departure points in Australia

The initial departure points for freight will be Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.

Additional departure points will be determined by demand, aircraft availability and freight optimisation criteria. We will use the details provided by exporters in the online expression of interest (EOI) to decide.

Expansion will prioritise regional airports servicing international markets. 

How to apply 

Express your interest by sharing your air freight requirements now. Your input will help inform final airfreight mechanism decisions.

If you submitted an EOI before 16 April 2020

You will need to resubmit the form with additional information to be eligible. This information will inform which air freight routes will be prioritised.

Have Your Say

What to include

You will be asked to supply the following details:

  • business name, and contact details
  • routes, including preferred departure airport and destination airport
  • information on what and when you are seeking to trade internationally, type of freight (i.e. wet or dry), frequency of despatch per week, volume (cubic meters), and weight (tonnes).

You will:

  • receive an email from Austrade confirming receipt of your EOI
  • be notified of upcoming IFAM-supported airfreight opportunities if you are eligible under the mechanism.

Need help?

Phone (02) 6272 2444.

Flight coordination

The government has appointed Mr Michael Byrne as International Freight Coordinator General.

Mr Byrne is one of Australia’s most experienced logistics professionals. He will advise the government on operational aspects. This includes departure points, arrival points, freight mix, product eligibility and other factors.


Airfreight has been constrained in both capacity and cost. The mechanism intends to address both issues.

IFAM does not provide individual funding for exporters or importers . Exporters will need to make a financial contribution towards the increased cost of their freight. This cost will be more than pre-COVID airfreight rates.

IFAM is not intended to fully offset the increase in freight costs to pre-COVID-19 levels. However, IFAM helps ensure that Australian businesses trading internationally can reset and recover quickly when the COVID-19 crisis begins to abate.


IFAM is a temporary, emergency measure.

It will operate until ordinary commercial markets return, or for six months, whichever is earlier. If demand, value and need are clear, IFAM may be extended.

Flight frequency

The mechanism is not limited by a flight schedule. Flight schedules by departure point and arrival point will be determined by demand and market access.

Flights will be expedited as soon as they are full of valuable exports.

Aircraft types

Aircraft types will be determined by demand, end market, and freight optimisation criteria as advised by the International Freight Coordinator General.

Some freight has specialist needs. We will seek to meet these where full loads can be arranged. 

Organising airfreight by an IFAM flight

Austrade will advise if you are eligible for an upcoming flight under the mechanism and provide details of IFAM-supported flights you can access. After receiving this advice, you should contact:

  • your freight forwarder

  • one of our 6 contracted freight forwarders.

Freight forwarders

Air Menzies International (Aust) or
CT Freight
DHL Global Forwarding
Kuehne & Nagel  Exports:
Schenker Australia
Toll Group

Air freight service providers

Freight forwarder will coordinate flights with these airlines.

Cathay Pacific Airways
Emirates  Melbourne: or
Sydney: or
Australia (other):
Etihad Airways
Federal Express Corporation
Japan Airlines or
Singapore Airlines
Qantas Airways
Qatar Airways   Sydney:
Virgin Australia Airlines or

Return items to Australia

Air Vice-Marshal Margaret Staib AM CSC (Retd) has been appointed as the Australian Government Freight Controller to oversee the import of critical goods that are in the national interest. These include goods such as vital medical supplies, medicines and equipment or other items identified as being nationally important.

Last reviewed: 26 May 2020
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