In April 2020, the Australian Government established the International Freight Assistance Mechanism (IFAM) to keep global air links open in response to the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
IFAM is a temporary, targeted, emergency measure to help Australian businesses deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The purpose of IFAM is to help:
- Re-build and maintain key global supply chains, protecting hard fought market share for Australian businesses.
- Enabling the import of items critical to Australia’s national interest, including medical supplies, medicines and equipment to support Australia’s health response.
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.
By keeping key airfreight routes open, IFAM is providing Australian businesses disproportionately affected by COVID-19 time to adapt their business models, adjust to a new and tougher trading environment and preserve jobs.
Find out about available support for businesses.
Eligibility for products supported by IFAM is determined by a set of overarching principles rather than by specific commodities. These principles determine eligibility based on Australian-made or produced products that are:
- High-value AND
- Time-sensitive AND
- Reliant on airfreight due to perishability.
When determining whether a product is reliant on airfreight, we may also look to whether the product:
- could not be sent by an alternative to airfreight without losing their essential product characteristics or value
- have a limited shelf life or are required to meet a sudden or immediate need.
- Otherwise deemed to be in the national interest
IFAM is not limited to agriculture and seafood goods. Any products meeting the above principles may be considered for IFAM support.
Additional products now eligible under the principles framework may include medicines which have a short shelf life, are high-value and are reliant on airfreight to meet a sudden or immediate need – for example, blood products, or raw material ingredients for pharmaceuticals.
Frozen product such as frozen meat or seafood do not meet the criteria for IFAM support, as these are not time-sensitive or perishable products. Powdered milk is also out of scope.
The eligibility principles apply to all exports seeking IFAM support, including via IFAM grants.
The International Freight Coordinator General and Australian Government Freight Controller have authority to make decisions based on the principles outlined above, with guidance from the Airfreight Deputy Secretary board.
Departure Points and Destinations
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
Since April 2020, IFAM has reconnected 9 Australian ports to 58 international destinations and helped the movement of high-value perishable Australian products to international customers.
Outbound flights depart from multiple ports around Australia to destinations throughout Asia, North America and the Middle East. For information on current routes, download the IFAM Flight Schedule Outbound.
If the scheduled IFAM supported flights do not meet an exporter’s needs, the exporter may discuss their options with their freight forwarder. Freight forwarders can apply for grant assistance through IFAM.
For inbound flight information, download the IFAM Flight Schedule Inbound.
How to apply
IFAM is prioritising high-value, time-sensitive and perishable products on outbound flights. If you rely on air freight to get these types of products to your customers, register your interest.
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).
Once you receive an email from Austrade confirming receipt of your EOI and eligibility, you can contact your freight forwarder, who will work with you to access IFAM support.
Contact the Freight assistance team at (02) 6272 2444 or email email@example.com.
For more information, visit the International Freight Assistance Mechanism (IFAM) webpage.