IATA sends industry SOS to G20 leaders

Published: 27 March 2020 - 5 a.m.

IATA’s director general, Alexandre de Juniac, has called for G20 leaders to encourage world governments to back airlines with financial support “to prevent irrecoverable damage to international connectivity”.

In an open letter to the G20 Presidency, Mr de Juniac emphasised the role that air transport will play in facilitating the recovery of the global economy.

Noting that the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting government-mandated border closings and travel restrictions have led to the destruction of global air travel demand, de Juniac made a plea to governments to urgently provide financial support.

He noted that some G20 members already have acted, including Australia, Brazil and China. Mr de Juniac also pointed out that without the global connectivity provided by aviation, sustaining global supply chains, as well as developing country industries such as perishable horticulture and tourism would be “impossible”.

By value, 35% of international trade flown by air, 57% of international tourists travel by air and each airline job contributes to 24 more in the wider economy.

In the letter, Mr de Juniac wrote: “While airlines have substantial expenses which are fixed and cannot be reduced, they are taking every measure possible to mitigate the cash drain by cutting avoidable costs. Furthermore, as the crisis has worsened, many airlines have been paying out more in refunds than they have received in new booking revenues.

“As a result, the average two-month cash reserves held by airlines are rapidly being exhausted. As the global trade association for the air transport industry representing 290 members and 82% of global air traffic, we have estimated the cash shortfall globally at approximately US $200 billion.

“As the world’s premier forum for economic cooperation, the G20 is uniquely positioned to demonstrate leadership and encourage governments around the world to act quickly to prevent irrecoverable damage to international connectivity.”

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