New research from IATA says worst yet to come for European aviation

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has published new research which shows that the impacts on the European aviation industry caused by the shutdown of air traffic due to the COVID-19 pandemic have worsened over recent weeks.

Iberia's Airbus A350 taking off from New York's JFK airport. Photo by Andrew Pries | AeroNewsX

The newly published data reveals that airlines in Europe are “set to lose $21.5 billion in 2020, with passenger demand declining by over half”. The organisation, which represents the airline industry, said that losses of this magnitude will put between 6-7 million aviation-related jobs at risk in Europe. With predicted financial losses and potential job losses on this scale, IATA is hoping for an accelerated recovery of air transport in Europe, which they say is “vital if the worst of these impacts are to be avoided.”

The organisation which represents approximately 290 airlines worldwide outlined two priority areas that European governments should consider if they wish to limit the effects of the shutdown of air traffic on their respective countries. The first priority is to have a coordinated restart of air travel. The organisational body said that borders should be opened up and this includes the “elimination of quarantine.” IATA also said that “the guidance set out by ICAO is broadly consistent” with measures recommended by EASA and the European Centre for Disease Control. The body said the health guidance “strikes the right balance between safeguarding public health while permitting viable air services”. The new health measures include more thorough and frequent cleaning, along with the wearing of face masks, which the organization says will “further reduce the already low risk of transmission on board.”

Table and data provided by IATA Corporate Communications - 18th June 2020

The research table produced by IATA outlines how the shutdown of air traffic and the COVID-19 pandemic has affected air traffic in each European country. The table includes the impacts from all carriers irrespective of the airline’s registered region.

The second major priority for IATA is for financial and regulatory support to continue for airlines. The organisation particularly wants to see “an extension of the waiver to the 80-20 slot rule, and relief from taxes and charges.” The organisation, which represents 82% of global air traffic, highlighted that “many European governments have recognized the strategic importance of their aviation industries and provided support.” However, the representative body for the majority of airlines said that “much of the financial aid has been in the form of loans, which are adding to the debt burden for airlines and which will hinder their ability to invest in new services, cleaner aircraft, and expanded employment going forward.”

According to the IATA’s Regional Vice President for Europe, Rafael Schvartzman “thousands of jobs have already been lost due to the shutdown of air traffic. For our future prosperity it is imperative that the industry recovers as soon as possible.” He added that IATA was grateful to governments who have provided assistance so far to the aviation industry. “Those actions have saved thousands of jobs and are enabling airlines to keep connectivity going. But I’m afraid the worst may be yet to come. Airlines rely on the summer season to provide a financial cushion for the more challenging winter months. But we know that European airlines are set to lose $21 billion this year.”

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