Department of State Development

International Freight Assistance Mechanism

  • The Australian Government has committed an additional $241.9 million to continue the International Freight Assistance Mechanism (IFAM), helping keep international freight routes and flights operating until the end of the year.
  • The new funding will keep high-value, time sensitive and perishable exports and vital imports, such as medical supplies and other essential items, flowing as we continue the economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. It will also assist producers and growers in regional and rural areas that rely on air freight to get their products to customers.
  • This funding is in addition to the $110 million announced in April to establish the IFAM.
  • The extension will give businesses more time to re-engineer their business models and adjust to a new and tougher trading environment created by COVID-19.
  • View the latest flight schedules and further information at Austrade's IFAM site.
  • We strongly encourage South Australian exporters seeking to move goods via air freight to contact their local freight forwarder to link into available flights and also to register for IFAM (particularly if seeking to access flights with perishable goods from the Eastern state capitals).
  • The two IFAN supported services departing Adelaide are:
    • a weekly Singapore Airlines return flight to Singapore departing Adelaide each Wednesday.
    • a weekly Cathay Pacific one-way service from Adelaide to Hong Kong each Sunday.
  • A further IFAM supported flight has been launched with Cathay Pacific providing a one-way service from Adelaide to Hong Kong each Sunday from 7 June.
  • Please contact your freight forwarder to access space on these services, including to further destinations beyond Singapore and Hong Kong where available.
  • Note that with more limited international flights than pre-COVID-19, air freight rates will remain higher than exporters have previously experienced, even accounting for the IFAM support.

Frequently asked questions

Yes. Direct cargo-only services operating weekly are currently provided from Adelaide to Singapore with Singapore Airlines, departing Adelaide each Wednesday, whilst Cathay Pacific are flying one-way to Hong Kong each Sunday.  

In addition, Singapore Airlines is operating a weekly passenger service from Adelaide to Singapore on Tuesdays, whilst Malaysia Airlines also has operated a passenger service from Adelaide to Kuala Lumpur.  This flight first departed in early July on a Saturday, with further scheduled Saturday services from August.

Whilst only limited eligible passengers will travel initially, these limited passenger flights provide additional freight capacity beyond the IFAM funded services.

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.

On 3 July 2020, the Australian Government announced a $240 million extension to IFAM support, through to the end of 2020 (see press release and updated fact sheet).

The main departure points for IFAM are 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 return service supported by IFAM from Adelaide to Singapore with Singapore Airlines departs Wednesdays, whilst a Cathay Pacific one-way service from Adelaide to Hong Kong departs on Sundays. Please contact your freight forwarder to access space on these ex-Adelaide services, including to further destinations beyond Singapore and Hong Kong 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 IFAM indicated support to reach China, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and the UAE, but with indication that support may be expanded based on demand, operating method and commercial opportunities.  This has recently seen flights to Kuala Lumpur, Los Angeles and Auckland also supported.

To access the weekly services supported by IFAM from Adelaide to Singapore and Adelaide to Hong Kong, please contact your freight forwarder. Destinations beyond Singapore and Hong Kong may also have viable connections.

To access IFAM support from the main hubs, 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.

For perishable goods requiring air freight, we would advise you to seek to access direct flights from Adelaide.

If this is not possible, the Australian Government is supporting a minimum domestic network running through to the end of September at this stage. This provides direct domestic pathways from Adelaide to Melbourne and Sydney, which may be an opportunity for export bound product.

Freight can still travel by road to the eastern states to meet international flights. 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 and have generally been operating well, with some delays only at selected 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.