Australia has rolled out a freight export service network, aimed at re-establishing global supply chains and accelerate exports of agricultural and fisheries exports to key overseas markets. 

The network comprises 15 airlines, freight service providers and freight forwarders, such as Qantas, Singapore Airlines, Emirates and FedEx. 

The Australian authorities add that since its inception three weeks ago, 55 freight flight agreements have been secured. 

The move is part of the government’s A$1 billion ($631 million) relief package for affected sectors and communities, and comes amid dwindling passenger flights in and out of the country due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

About 90% of the agricultural freight usually goes in the bellyhold of passenger aircraft, notes Australia federal trade minister Simon Birmingham. With fewer passenger flights, “our exporters are facing major hurdles”, he adds. 

Deputy prime minister Michael McCormack notes that the coronavirus outbreak has disrupted supply chains around the world, and led to “major air freight shortages”.

“Appointment of these airlines and freight forwarders 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,” McCormack, who is also minister for infrastructure, transport and regional development, adds.