The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is appealing to governments in Africa and the Middle East to better support the aviation industry through the current situation.
On a global level, IATA has estimated that the aviation requires up to US$200 billion in emergency aid amid growing travel restrictions and slumped demand.
“Millions of jobs are at stake. Airlines need urgent government action if they are to emerge from this in a fit state to help the world recover, once COVID-19 is beaten,” explained IATA director general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac.
IATA has suggested MEA governments have a number of options to support their air travel industry. It suggested providing direct financial support to passenger and cargo carriers to counteract reduced revenues. It also noted the eligibility of corporate bonds for central bank support needs to be extended and guaranteed by governments to provide access for a wider range of companies. IATA’s final suggestion was tax relief, rebates and extension of payment terms for companies in the industry.
IATA regional VP MEA Muhammad Al Bakri said: “Our ask is that airlines, which are essential to all modern economies, are given urgent consideration. This will help keep them alive and ensure airline staff – and people working in allied sectors - have jobs to come back to at the end of the crisis. It will enable global supply chains to continue functioning and provide the connectivity that tourism and trade will depend on if they are to contribute to rapid post-pandemic economic growth.”
According to data from IATA, the Middle Eastern aviation industry has lost US$7.2 billion in revenue as of March 11 2020. This is in part caused by a spike in booking cancellations; since the end of January, 16,000 flights in the region have been cancelled.
International bookings in the Middle East are down 40% year-over-year in March and April and 30% year-over-year in May and June. Domestic bookings are down approximately 20% in March and April and 40% in May and June.Dubai-based Emirates Airline announced that it has halted operations to 104 destinations.