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Air sector calls for second round of government aid

Credit: Belga

On Tuesday, the air transport sector launched an urgent worldwide appeal to obtain a second round of government aid in the face of the coronavirus crisis.

The sector is also pushing governments to use rapid testing of passengers before departure to allow borders to reopen safely and to avoid quarantine measures that are harmful to the sector, the Airports Council International (ACI) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) stressed.

ACI manages nearly 2,000 airports across the world, and IATA has 290 member airlines.

“Without these actions, it is no exaggeration to consider that the industry is facing collapse,” they said. “In the absence of a second round of (financial) aid, the companies will not make it this winter,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director-general, during a joint press conference with Luis Felipe de Oliveira, ACI’s global director.

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According to de Oliveira, airports are also exposed to bankruptcy. Especially the smaller ones, and those managed by private groups which, compared to the public airports, “could suffer much more from the increase in their debt.”

After a low point reached in April, air traffic recovered very slowly before being slowed down again in August. According to de Juniac, traffic on international routes currently reaches only 10% of last year’s volume.

According to the organisation, the air transport sector has already obtained support of $160 billion through direct aid, loans, support for the payment of wages, tax relief or relaxation.

However, the very slow resumption of traffic is exhausting the companies’ treasuries, they said.

The situation is particularly critical in the United States, where some are reportedly preparing to make tens of thousands of workers redundant in the absence of new aid. They benefited from a $25 billion package paid by the government in March, in exchange for which they promised not to cut jobs until 30 September.

ACI estimates the drop in turnover in the airport sector at 60% in 2020 compared to 2019 and IATA estimates a drop of “at least 50%” for the airlines.

The Brussels Times