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Covid-19: IATA calls for governments to assist airlines, save jobs

A special AirAsia flight carrying Covid-19 evacuees from Tehran upon landing at KLIA last month.

TheMole
Written by TheMole

KUALA LUMPUR, April 8 2020:  The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has called on governments to provide direct financial support, loans, loan guarantees and support for the corporate bond market and tax relief for the airline industry. 

It warned that some 25 million jobs are at risk of disappearing due to plummeting demand for air travel due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with almost half of that job loses being in the Asia Pacific region.

“ Airlines must be viable businesses so that they can lead the recovery when the pandemic is contained. A lifeline to the airlines now is critical,” said IATA’s director-general and chief executive officer, Alexandre de Juniac in a statement today.

He said the industry will also need careful planning and coordination to ensure that airlines are ready when the pandemic is contained.

“We have never shuttered the industry on this scale before. Consequently, we have no experience in starting it up. It will be complicated. At the practical level, we will need contingencies for licenses and certifications that have expired,” he added.

He said the airline industry have to also adapt operations and processes to avoid reinfections via imported cases.

“These are just some of the major tasks that are ahead of us. And to be successful, industry and government must be aligned and working together,” said de Juniac.

Overall, the livelihoods of some 65.5 million people around the world are dependent on the aviation industry, including sectors such as travel and tourism.

IATA research calculates that 25 million jobs in aviation and related sectors are endangered if the current severe travel restrictions continues for three months.

In such scenario, airlines are expected to see full-year passenger revenues fall by US$252 billion or 44 per cent compared to last year.

IATA, which represents some 290 airlines comprising 82 per cent of global air traffic said the second quarter is the most critical with demand falling 70 per cent at its worst point and airlines losing up to US$61 billion.

“We are not expecting to re-start the same industry that we closed a few weeks ago. Airlines will still connect the world. And we will do that through a variety of business models.

“But the industry processes will need to adapt. We must get on with this work quickly. We don’t want to repeat the mistakes made after 911 (terror attack in New York in 2001) when many new processes were imposed in an uncoordinated way. We ended up with a mess of measures that we are still sorting out today. The 25 million people whose jobs are at risk by this crisis will depend on an efficient re-start of the industry,” said de Juniac.

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