KUALA LUMPUR, April 19 2020: The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) has pleaded for the government to promptly consider providing financial support for local airlines.
Matta was responding to a recent suggestion by the Senior Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali for Malaysia Airlines to be merge with AirAsia Group due to the Covid-19 crisis.
“The aviation industry sits at the core of the whole tourism ecosystem. Air connectivity is crucial to the nation’s tourism and economic recovery,” it said in a statement.
Matta president Datuk Tan Kok Liang said the government should help Malaysia Airlines in particular as countries were expected to bailout their national carriers after Covid-19 restrictions hit the industry hard around the world.
He noted that the Singapore government has arranged up to S$19 billion (US$13 billion) of funding to support Singapore Airlines (SIA).
“And, Hong Kong has provided a relief package of HK$2 billion (US$258 million) to ease the liquidity pressure of airlines and aviation support services operators.
“In addition, the US government has reached an agreement in principle with US major airlines over the terms of a US$25 billion bailout, while the European Commission has approved approximately €455 million loan guarantee scheme to Sweden, to help the airline industry as it struggles to weather the economic fallout from the Covid-19,” he said.
Tan said the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has also strengthened its call for urgent action from government worldwide to provide financial relief to airlines.
The Covid-19 crisis was expected to inflict up to US$314 billion (RM1.36 trillion) in losses for global airlines,.
“Without airlines to bring in millions of tourists in and out of Malaysia, there will be no viable tourism industry. They are the first in the long line of the supply chain in the tourism industry that includes airports, road and rail transport, accommodation, food and beverage, entertainment and shopping plus business, education and health services,” added Tan.