The International Freight Assistance Mechanism (IFAM) is a temporary, targeted, emergency support measure put in place by the Australian Government to keep global air links open in response to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The program has maintained global air connections to give Australian businesses time to align their operating models to ‘new-look’ supply chains.

IFAM will officially draw to a close and last flights flown by 30 June 2022.

How IFAM works

In response to the pandemic, IFAM provides logistical and administrative support for international freight movements by:

  • aggregating cargo loads
  • negotiating with airlines
  • dealing with partner governments to facilitate clearances and improve transparency of freight costs.

Since April 2020, IFAM has reconnected 9 Australian ports to 63 international destinations. It has helped move high-value perishable Australian products to existing international markets. The program has also enabled the import of nationally important goods, aiding Australia’s pandemic response.

IFAM virtual briefings

IFAM holds regular industry briefings to provide updates on:

  • the program
  • supply chain challenges
  • flight developments
  • pricing
  • routes.

These sessions are essential for:

  • freight forwarders
  • importers
  • exporters
  • producers
  • agribusinesses.
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IFAM Horticulture Briefing

Thursday 23 June
13:00 - 14:00 (AEST)

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IFAM Dairy Briefing

Thursday 23 June
16:00 - 16:30 (AEST)

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IFAM Meat Briefing

Thursday 23 June
10:00 - 11:00 (AEST)

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IFAM Seafood Briefing

Thursday 23 June
14:00-15:00 (AEST)


Register for IFAM virtual briefings.

Subscribe to our mailing list to stay up to date on all things IFAM.

How to access IFAM



IFAM support

IFAM prioritises high-value and time-sensitive perishable products on outbound flights.

Contact your freight forwarder to access:

  • IFAM-supported flights 
  • Grant assistance
  • Regional and remote flight connections.


Airfreight costs will be more than pre-COVID airfreight rates. Exporters will need to make a financial contribution towards the increased cost of their freight. The pricing in the flight schedule is inclusive of IFAM government support but not inclusive of freight forwarders’ fees or additional costs.

Additional options

In addition to IFAM-supported flights, there is increasing commercial freight capacity, accessible through your freight forwarder.

IFAM flight schedule outbound



IFAM support

On inbound flights, IFAM is prioritising medical supplies, medicines and equipment to support Australia’s health response, as well as items of national importance.

Importers can work with their freight forwarder to access freight capacity.

If importers are having difficulty accessing freight space for urgent medical supplies, contact


Airfreight costs will be more than pre-COVID airfreight rates and inbound freight pricing is offered at market rate.

Additional options

In addition to IFAM-supported flights, there is increasing commercial freight capacity, accessible through your freight forwarder.

A network of airfreight service providers and freight forwarders supports the delivery of IFAM. They also provide specialist advice.

IFAM flight schedule inbound


More information

About IFAM

IFAM was established in April 2020 with $110 million in funding to help rebuild critical global air supply links. IFAM is led by:

IFAM received additional funding of:

  • $241.9 million in July 2020
  • $317.1 million in October 2020
  • $112.8 million in March 2021
  • $260.9 million in August 2021.

The last round of funding extends IFAM operations to the middle of 2022.

Why IFAM is needed

Since April 2020, IFAM has successfully reconnected global airfreight routes in the wake of COVID-19 containment measures. These measures saw commercial passenger flights drop by more than 90% almost overnight (Source: Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications, internal paper prepared by the Boston Consulting Group, 2020).

This had an immediate and devastating effect on Australia’s ability to airfreight goods. As an island nation, Australia is heavily reliant on passenger flights for time-sensitive freight. Eighty per cent of Australia’s airfreight is typically carried in the bellies of passenger flights (Source: Infrastructure Partnerships Australia and Oxford Economics, International Airfreight Indicator 2019, page 8).

Around 35,000 direct and over 120,000 indirect jobs in the agriculture, seafood, and aviation and logistics sectors are at risk if airfreight supply chains fail. Many of these jobs are in regional communities (Source: Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications, internal paper prepared by the Boston Consulting Group, 2020).

By keeping key airfreight routes open, IFAM is providing Australian businesses disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic time to:

  • adapt their business models
  • adjust to a new and tougher trading environment
  • preserve jobs.

Restoring global supply chains has been vital to:

  • Australia’s COVID-19 health response
  • maintaining relationships between Australian businesses and their existing customers around the world.

What goods are eligible for IFAM support?

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, or
  • has a limited shelf life or is required to meet a sudden or immediate need.


  • Otherwise items deemed to be in the national interest, as approved by the Australian Government Freight Controller or their delegate (including medical supplies, medicines and equipment to support Australia’s health response). 

IFAM is not limited to agriculture and seafood goods. Any products meeting the above principles may be considered for IFAM support.

Additional products 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.

Inbound IFAM Support

On inbound flights, IFAM is prioritising items deemed in the national interest.

For example, on inbound flights IFAM has supported:

  • Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)
  • Pharmaceuticals and consumables
  • Medical equipment and consumables
  • Inputs to health industries
  • Imported components essential to the operation of key infrastructure assets, non-medical personal protective equipment and agricultural chemicals.

Airlines, airfreight service providers and freight forwarders

Airlines and airfreight service providers

  • Air New Zealand Limited
  • Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd
  • Emirates
  • Etihad Airways PJSC
  • Federal Express Corporation
  • Japan Airlines Co. Ltd
  • Singapore Airlines Ltd
  • QANTAS Airways Ltd
  • Qatar Airways Group (Q.C.S.C.).

Freight forwarders

  • CT Freight Pty Ltd
  • Schenker Australia Pty Ltd
  • Kuehne & Nagel Ltd
  • DHL Global Forwarding (Australia) Pty Ltd.

IFAM flights and grant assistance are available for all eligible freight forwarders (not just those listed above). For more information on eligibility, you can read:

What support is available for regional and remote locations?

IFAM is committed to supporting regional Australia. There are international IFAM supported freight flights departing from regional locations across Australia, as well as domestic flights connecting to international IFAM supported flights from major cities.

What is grant assistance?

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.

Submit an application via SmartyGrants

Information on using SmartyGrants can be found in the How to Guide.

Please note:

  • Exporters' products must be high-value, time-sensitive and reliant on airfreight (highly-perishable) to be considered
  • IFAM cannot provide grant assistance on scheduled IFAM flights (see IFAM flight schedule outbound)
  • Exporters and freight forwarders are expected to firstly consider the scheduled IFAM supported flights
  • Larger loads of high-value, time-sensitive and perishable freight, or applications for support over multiple flights or weeks, are more likely to be supported

More information on the grants process is available by downloading the IFAM Grant Guidelines.

What other flight options are available?

In addition to IFAM supported flights, there is increasing commercial freight capacity, accessible through your freight forwarder.

View more information on aviation here.

Qantas are also making airfreight capacity available on repatriation international passenger services to key destinations. Contact your freight forwarder, or for more information contact:

Compliance information

To reduce the risk of goods being held up at international ports, please include all relevant physical export documents, including government-issued phytosanitary and health certificates, with your consignment.

Disruptions to air and courier services due to the COVID-19 crisis are delaying the delivery of airmail. Including your export documents with your consignment will avoid delays between the arrival of goods in overseas markets and the arrival of documents sent via airmail.

This will help ensure your goods are processed and unloaded in a timely manner.

IFAM fact sheet

The IFAM fact sheet [PDF, 177 KB] has more information and answers to commonly asked questions.

Grant assistance

The IFAM grant application process has moved to an online system called SmartyGrants. Submit an application.

Information on using SmartyGrants can be found in the How to Guide [PDF, 1.69 MB].

Read the IFAM Grant Guidelines [PDF, 281 KB] for more information.

Additional flight options

In addition to IFAM-supported flights, there is increasing commercial freight capacity, accessible through your freight forwarder.