The Airports Council International (ACI) World and the International Air Transport Association (Iata) reinforced the urgent call for governments to use tests for COVID-19 as a means of safely reopening borders and re-establishing global connectivity, and preventing systemic collapse of the aviation industry with financial support that does not generate debt.
The dual measures protect countries from receiving infected people, prevent a tourism job crisis, and ensure that the aviation structure remains viable and capable of sustaining the economic and social benefits on which the world depends.
“The pandemic remains a crisis, and airports, airlines, and their business partners need direct and rapid financial assistance to protect essential operations and jobs. But this assistance is just one piece of the puzzle as the industry restarts. It prepares to sustain ongoing operations focusing on the health and well-being of travelers, employees, and the public. ACI and Iata are aligned with calling for urgent government action to introduce widespread and coordinated testing of passengers to allow removal of quarantine requirements. Without this action, it is not an exaggeration that the industry is facing a collapse ”, said the director-general of ACI, Luis Felipe de Oliveira.
The Air Transport Action Group (ATAG) estimates that 46 million jobs are at risk due to the loss of connectivity caused by the covid-19 crisis. The vast majority of them (41.2 million jobs) are in the travel sector, which depends on aviation. The rest (4.8 million jobs) are distributed through direct aviation jobs, including airports and airlines.
The aviation sector’s viability to support employment is challenged by the severe and prolonged fall in business. ACI estimates that the airport industry will experience a 60% reduction in revenues, representing an unprecedented US $ 104.5 billion. At the same time, Iata estimates that airline revenues will fall by at least 50% ($ 419 billion compared to $ 838 billion in 2019).
Reopening borders safely without quarantine, using a coordinated testing approach, would boost the entire economy and be a revenue source for airlines and airports. ACI and Iata have appealed to the ICAO Council’s Aviation Recovery Task Force to provide an internationally accepted and recognized approach to tests adopted at the national level.
Governments are also urged to address the devastating impact of border closures and other government-imposed travel restrictions, supporting aviation’s viability through direct financial support that protects jobs and operations, does not increase debt levels, and minimizes debt defaults and credit losses.
“We need to act quickly. Large parts of the global airline network have suffered severe disruptions for more than half a year. The loss of jobs, inside and outside the industry, increases every day that the borders are closed. And with each job lost, the recovery and impact on the economy becomes even more difficult. The momentum is growing in support of tests to reopen borders. It is the main operational priority. And to ensure that we have a viable aviation sector at the end of this crisis, a second round of financial relief is inevitable, ”said Iata’s general director and CEO, Alexandre de Juniac.
According to the International Health Regulations of the World Health Organization (WHO), ACI and Iata are united in the belief that the costs related to public health measures aimed at mitigating the spread of communicable diseases, including the introduction of an approach coordinated testing, should be supported by national governments.