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THE INTERNATIONAL Freight Assistance Mechanism has seen its last supported flights flown as the program draws to a close today, 30 June.

IFAM was established by the federal government in April 2020 to help maintain global air freight links through the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was launched with $110 in initial funding and was extended several times to give Australian businesses time to align their operating models with “new look” supply chains.

By August last year, the government had provided $1.04 billion to Australian exporters through the IFAM scheme. However, the latest iteration of the program has not been extended.

“IFAM has helped reconnect crucial global supply chains and supported the import of critical medical supplies, equipment and other goods of national importance,” the latest factsheet from Austrade said.

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“It also provides the opportunity, on the outbound legs, for high-value and time-sensitive perishable products to be exported to established markets.

“Since April 2020, IFAM has reconnected 9 Australian ports to 63 international destinations enabling direct international connections for Australian businesses reliant on airfreight to get their products to customers.”

A market update from Maersk suggested perishable cargo exported from Australia would be carried on general cargo flights following IFAM’s closure.

“Market talk indicates about 70% of general air cargo capacity is now pre-allocated to perishable suppliers,” Maersk said.

Austrade said noted there is now increasing commercial freight capacity accessible through freight forwarders.

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