Subscribe Free
in Air Transport

IATA calls for borders to open and continued relief measures

Posted 2 September 2020 · Add Comment

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is calling on governments to work together to urgently find ways to re-establish global connectivity by re-opening borders and to continue with relief measures to sustain airlines during the COVID-19 crisis.

“Protecting their citizens must be the top priority of governments," said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.  Image: IATA

IATA’s call reflects deep industry frustration as government policies such as closed borders, travel restrictions and quarantines continue to annihilate travel demand. This was evident in a disappointing “peak (Northern Hemisphere) summer travel season” that saw minimal improvements compared to the May-June period, as four in five potential travelers stayed home, based on comparisons with the year-ago period. 

·       Total July 2020 traffic was 79.8% below 2019 levels 

·       International traffic in July 2020 was 91.9% below 2019 levels

“Protecting their citizens must be the top priority of governments. But too many governments are fighting a global pandemic in isolation with a view that closing borders is the only solution. It’s time for governments to work together to implement measures that will enable economic and social life to resume, while controlling the spread of the virus,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

Specifically, IATA calls for governments to grasp the seriousness of the crisis facing the airline industry and its consequences for their citizens; and IATA urges governments to focus their attention on these key issues: 

·       Re-opening borders

·       Continuing relief measures

·       Global leadership  

Re-Opening Borders 

The world remains largely closed to travel despite the availability of global protocols to enable the safe re-start of aviation (Take-off guidance) developed by governments through the leadership of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) with the support of the World Health Organization (WHO). This guidance covers all aspects of the passenger journey and recommends sanitary measures to keep travellers safe and reduce the risk of importing infection. 

“Airlines have been largely grounded for a half-year. And the situation is not improving. In fact, in many cases it is going in the wrong direction. We see governments replacing border closures with quarantine for air travellers. Neither will restore travel or jobs. Worse, governments are changing the entry requirements with little notice to travelers or coordination with their trading partners. This uncertainty destroys demand. Ten percent of the global economy is sustained by travel and tourism; governments need to do better to re-start it,” said de Juniac.

The prerequisite to open borders is the ICAO Take-off guidance. Additionally, IATA is proposing travel bubbles to mitigate risks between specific markets and foresees a much wider and strategic use of COVID-19 testing as technology improves accuracy, speed and scalability.

“No government wants to import COVID-19. Equally, no government should want to see the economic hardships and associated health impacts of mass unemployment. Successfully getting through this crisis requires careful risk-management with effective measures. If government policies focus on enabling a safe re-start, aviation is well-prepared to deliver. Risk-management is a well-developed discipline that airlines rely on to keep travel safe and secure,” said de Juniac.

IATA proposes a three-point action plan for governments to safely re-open borders as follows:

1.  Implement the ICAO Take-off guidance universally.

2.  Build on the solid work of ICAO Council’s Aviation Recovery Task Force (CART) by developing an agreed common framework for states to use in coordinating the safe re-opening of their borders to aviation.

3.  Develop COVID-19 testing measures that will enable the re-opening of borders by reducing the risk of COVID-19 importation to what is acceptable to public health authorities with accuracy, speed and scalability that also meet the exacting requirements for incorporation into the travel process.

“As a participant in the ICAO CART, IATA will work with governments, medical experts and testing manufacturers to accelerate proposals specifically focused on using COVID-19 testing to re-build confidence, re-open borders, re-start aviation, re-charge demand and restore jobs. There is much at stake and no time to lose,” said de Juniac

Relief Measures

With the exception of some domestic markets there is little evidence of an early industry recovery. Airlines continue to lose billions of dollars and are facing difficult decisions to resize their operations and workforce for the future.

“Many airlines will not have the financial means to survive an indefinite shutdown that, for many, already exceeds a half-year. In these extraordinary times, governments will need to continue with financial and other relief measures to the greatest extent possible. It’s a solid investment in the recovery because each airline job saved supports 24 in the broader economy. And a functioning airline industry will be a critical enabler for economies to regain their full power,” said de Juniac.

IATA urges governments to focus relief measures in two areas: 

·       Financial Relief: Facing an industry loss of $84.3 billion this year, a 50% cut in revenues and high fixed costs for aircraft and labour, the financial viability of many airlines is in question. Government relief has been a critical lifeline. But what relief has been given is quickly running out. Government measures to provide additional financial buffers against failure will be critical, and these must not increase already ballooning debt levels. 

·       Regulatory Relief: The most urgent regulatory relief is a global waiver on the use-it-or-lose-it 80-20 slot rule. The severe uncertainty in the market means that airlines need the flexibility to adjust schedules to meet demand without the pressure of being penalized for not using allocated slots. Airlines cannot afford to fly empty planes when market demand drops. Similarly, they cannot pass up revenue when opportunities open up.

Many governments, including China, Brazil, Mexico, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand have granted waivers for the winter 2020 season (October 2020-March 2021) recognizing the severe constraints on planning schedules during this period of extreme disruption. Unfortunately, the European Commission (EC), which many governments look to for leadership on air transport policies, is under-estimating the severity of the crisis and dragging its feet:

o   The EC has stated that traffic will be restored to between 75% and 85% of February 2020 levels (pre-COVID-19 in most markets) for the winter season. This is far more optimistic than industry scenarios.

o   Moreover, the EC believes that granting a waiver in mid-October will give a sufficient window for airlines and airports to plan for what is already the most challenging time in aviation history. Given the extraordinary circumstances, over the last several weeks both airports and airlines have been calling for the governments to provide clarity as early as possible. Together with independent slot coordinators they have jointly agreed conditions to allow the EC to progress swiftly.

“The European Commission’s delay in granting a full-season waiver of the 80-20 slot rule for the Northern Hemisphere winter season is bad for everyone. Airlines and airports will scramble while consumer uncertainty will only increase. As the Commission returns from its summer activities, granting a full-season waiver should be at the top of the aviation priority list,” said de Juniac. 

Global Leadership 

“Governments have cooperated to set the guidelines for a safe re-start of aviation. But they have not cooperated to actually make a re-start happen. That’s why 90% of international flying has stopped. The demand is there. When borders open without quarantine, people fly. But there is too much uncertainty in how governments are managing the situation for passengers to re-build the confidence to travel.

In fact, what is killing aviation is the fact that governments are not managing the risks of opening borders. Instead, they are keeping global mobility effectively in lockdown. And if this continues, the damage to global connectivity could become irreparable which will generate its own severe consequences for economies and public health.

The global protocols for safely re-starting aviation are agreed and no industry is as experienced in successfully implementing global safety programs as aviation. But we need governments to take on the leadership to manage risks and adopt a mindset of not being defeated by this virus. Then, with testing, technology, science and determination we can re-open borders and get the world moving again,” said de Juniac.

* required field

Post a comment

Other Stories
Advertisement
Latest News

Rolls-Royce tests tech set to power world's fastest all-electric plane

Rolls-Royce has completed testing of the ground-breaking technology that will power the world’s fastest all-electric plane.

Emirates to resume flights to Jo'burg, Cape Town, Durban, Harare and Mauritius

Emirates today announced it will resume flights to Johannesburg (1st October), Cape Town (1st October), Durban (4th October) in South Africa; Harare in Zimbabwe (1st October) and Mauritius (3rd October).

Dassault Aviation supports the Lebanese NGO Nawraj

To help Lebanon after the tragic explosion of August 4th, 2020 in the port of Beirut, and in response to the call for mobilisation launched by the President of the French Republic, Dassault Aviation has decided to sign an agreement to

Etihad Airways marks Saudi Arabia’s 90th National Day

Etihad Airways helps celebrate leadership and people of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on the 90th National Day of the Kingdom.

Recaro CL3710 economy class seat debuts on Gulf Air’s new A321neo

Recaro Aircraft Seating’s CL3710 economy class seat is taking flight on Gulf Air’s new A321neoLR aircraft.

Boeing’s ecoDemonstrator is tested on Etihad Boeing 787-10

Boeing's ecoDemonstrator has been tested in the air saying the programme will improve sustainability for airlines, passengers and the environment.

GAS_SK2805200920
See us at
Manama Air Power Symposium 2020Saudi International Airshow 2021World Defence Show 2022Aviation MENA 2021Global Aerospace Summit 2020