The International air transport Association (Iata) on Thursday painted a gloomier picture for regional aviation sector. By predicting 25 percent losses for the Middle East and African airlines because of coronavirus outbreak and restrictions on travel movements.
The global aviation body, which represents 290 airlines worldwide, said the Middle East and African airlines will incur $6 billion (Dh22 billion) extra losses in May. As Covid-19 severely impacted the flight operations.
Now, total losses amounted to $30 billion in May compared to $24 billion predicted last month. The latest estimates showed that African carriers will lose $6 billion. While their Middle Eastern peers will lose $24 billion this year.
Iata has urged governments across the region to speed up their support to the carriers so that they can survive the turbulence time.
In terms of impact on employment on aviation and its related industries. the global airlines’ body calculable that 4.3 million job losses across the region as compared to 1.2 million it announced a month ago. whereas the loss to region’s GDP from the aviation sector will grow to $94 billion as against $66 billion announced on April 23.
Airlines are essential to jump starting economies
“The aviation industry is crucial to jump starting economies once Covid-19 is brought under control,” said Muhammad Al Bakri, regional vice-president for the Middle East and Africa at Iata.
At a weekly update, he said aviation sector has to play a significant role in economic recovery across the globe.
“Without a strong role of the aviation sector, it’s going to be very difficult to recover from the Covid-19 disaster,” he said.
He additionally suggested the regulators not to impose heavy charges on airlines when the recovery begins in coming weeks. He said that the support initiatives by the regional governments are taking too long and which are bleeding the airlines further.
“We are beginning to see a severe negative impact on the carriers and they will need to cut jobs. That’s something we are trying to avoid.” Iata has been advocating a temporary multi-layers biosecurity approach to protect health and safety of passengers and aviation workers. it has a route map for restarting air travel with specific proposals for biosafety procedures and the response has been excellent from the stakeholders.
“There is presently no single measure that could mitigate all the risks of restarting air travel but we believe a globally-consistent, outcome-based approach represents the most effective way of balancing risk mitigation with the requirement to unlock economies to enable travel,” Angela Gittens, director-general at ACI World, said.
Al Baker said the UAE will be among the first countries along with Qatar, Ethiopia, and Ghana in the region to test the biosecurity measures agreed by the governments and the global aviation bodies.
These security measures form the main input of Iata using the same biosecurity measures and it’s tabling them to governments around the world. Airlines have also issued guidelines which are in principle aligned with Iata’s proposals and these plans will become the cornerstone for a global restart plan of the aviation sector.
“We are advocating a globally-harmonized strategy which is a must for the recovery phase. we should avoid individualism in this regard. However, we also need to respect that there’ll be certain local peculiarities that we’ve to respect,” said Al Baker