Airports Council International (ACI) World and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) reinforced the urgent call for governments to use testing as a means to safely re-open borders and re-establish global connectivity and to prevent the systemic collapse of the aviation industry with non-debt generating financial support.
The dual measures they stated would protect countries from the importation of COVID-19 cases, avert an employment crisis in the travel and tourism sector, and ensure that the critical aviation structure remains viable and able to support the economic and social benefits on which the world relies.
The Air Transport Action Group (ATAG) estimates that 46 million jobs are at risk because of the loss of connectivity caused by the COVID-19 crisis and that the vast majority of these (41.2 million jobs) are in the travel and tourism sector which relies on aviation.
The remaining 4.8 million jobs are spread across direct employment in aviation, including airports and airlines, adding that the viability of the airline sector to support employment is being challenged by the severe and prolonged fall in business:
ACI estimates the airport industry will suffer a -60 per cent reduction in revenues, reaching an unprecedented -$104.5 billion.
IATA estimates that airline revenues will be down at least 50 per cent ($419 billion compared to $838 billion in 2019).
Safely re-opening borders without quarantine by using a coordinated approach to testing would boost the entire economy and be a revenue lifeline for airlines and airports.
ACI and IATA have called on the ICAO Council Aviation Recovery Task Force to provide an internationally agreed and recognized approach to testing that can be adopted at a national level.
They also urged governments to address the devastating impact of border closures and other government-imposed travel restrictions by supporting aviation’s viability through direct financial support that: protects jobs and operations, does not increase debt levels, and minimizes default on debt and credit losses.
According to ACI World Director General Luis Felipe de Oliveira, “The COVID-19 pandemic remains an existential crisis and airports, airlines and their commercial partners need direct and swift financial assistance to protect essential operations and jobs. But such assistance is only one piece of the puzzle as the industry restarts and prepares to sustain continuing operations focused on the health and welfare of travelers, staff, and the public. ACI and IATA are aligned in calling for urgent government action to introduce widespread and coordinated testing of passengers to enable quarantine requirements to be removed. Without this action, it is not an exaggeration that the industry is facing collapse.”
On his part, IATA’s Director General and CEO, Alexandre de Juniac, said, “We need action quickly. Large parts of the global air network have been severely ruptured for well over a half year. Job losses—inside and outside the industry—mount with each day that borders are closed. And with each job lost the recovery and impact on the broader economy becomes even more difficult. Momentum is building in support of testing to re-open borders. It’s the top operational priority. And to make sure that we have a viable aviation sector at the end of this crisis a second round of financial relief is unavoidable.”
In accordance with World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Health Regulations, ACI and IATA are united in the belief that costs related to public health measures aimed at mitigating the spread of communicable diseases, including the introduction of a coordinated approach to testing, should be borne by national governments.