Department of State Development

International Freight Assistance Mechanism

  • COVID-19 has particularly impacted exporters who use international air freight to move perishable items, particularly seafood, along with meat, some horticulture and dairy.
  • In response, on 1 April, the Australian Government announced the International Freight Assistance Mechanism (IFAM), a $110 million initiative to help agricultural and fisheries sectors to export their quality produce into key overseas markets, with return flights bringing back vital medical supplies, medicines and equipment.
  • On 23 April 2020 the Australian Government provided updated information on the IFAM – see press release.
  • Further details including how to register your interest to access IFAM can be found on the Austrade IFAM page.
  • We strongly encourage South Australian exporters seeking to move goods via air freight (predominantly perishables) to register for IFAM.
  • On 1 May, the first IFAM supported cargo flights ex-Adelaide were announced, commencing a once a week return flight to Singapore with Singapore Airlines from 6 May. Please contact your freight forwarder to access space on this service, including to further destinations beyond Singapore where available.

Frequently asked questions

A direct cargo-only service operating weekly from Adelaide to Singapore with Singapore Airlines, commenced on 6 May from Adelaide, departing Adelaide each Wednesday. The initial six-week service has been extended for another six weeks (supported by IFAM).

In response to the lack of availability to air freight, on 1 April 2020 the Australian Government announced a $110 million air freight support package for essential, agriculture, fisheries and forestry industries that aims to support exporters of high value fresh products to access air freight options - see press release.

new network of 15 air freight service providers (nine airlines and six freight forwarders) has now been established to accelerate delivery of agricultural, fisheries and other high value exports into key overseas markets.

The main departure points will be Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth. Noting that many exporters are outside of these hubs, the Mechanism provides for other departure points where possible, including departures from regional airports servicing international markets, depending on demand and aircraft dynamics.

A weekly service supported by IFAM from Adelaide to Singapore with Singapore Airlines commences on Wednesday 6 May. Please contact your freight forwarder to access space on this service, including to further destinations beyond Singapore where available.

Financial assistance will generally only be available to freight travelling as part of the Mechanism. Industries organising their own flights may be eligible for assistance where excessive costs are threatening the viability of such flights.

Initially China, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and the UAE. This list may be expanded in the future based on demand, operating method and commercial opportunities.

To access the weekly service supported by IFAM from Adelaide to Singapore with Singapore Airlines, please contact your freight forwarder to access space on this service, including to further destinations beyond Singapore where available.

To access the IFAM you must register your interest. The Department of Agriculture Water and the Environment has established an information line (02) 6272 2444 and a system for exporters to register your details.

The South Australian Government has been advised by Austrade and the International Freight Coordinator General that many business enquiries have provided insufficient detail on key matters such as volume (cubic metres), nature of packaging, frequency required, destination and even tonnage. Responses that don’t provide sufficient detail will be relegated to lowest priority and have limited prospect to be serviced.

The Australian Government has announced a minimum domestic network running from April through to June at this stage. This provides direct domestic pathways from Adelaide to both Melbourne and Sydney, which may be an opportunity for export bound product. Further information is available at Austrade’s IFAM page.

Freight can still travel by road to the Eastern states where some international flights are still leaving. You should seek advice from your logistics coordinator or freight forwarder to understand whether these are viable options for you.

Yes, ports remain open in Australia and around the world. However, there are some delays at various ports due to congestion related to staffing issues and additional health-based COVID-19 requirements.

In South Australia, Port Adelaide and all commercial regional ports remain open and in use for commercial shipping.

Given the pressures on air freight, some exporters with perishables have shifted their product to refrigerated/frozen sea freight. However, this is not an option for some highly perishable products and is also dependent on the distance of the designated market.

Some countries have restricted air mail services, which may require importers to shift to sea freight, or look at dedicated courier options. Social distancing requirements are also impacting on the processing of mail at sorting centres.