Action needed to prevent a jobs catastrophe

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IATA and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) issued a joint statement calling for urgent government intervention to prevent an employment catastrophe in the aviation industry.

Estimates from the Air Transport Action Group suggest some 4.8 million aviation workers’ jobs are at risk as a result of air travel demand falling more than 75% in August 2020 compared with August 2019. The impact of travel restrictions and quarantine measures have effectively closed down the aviation industry, grounding planes, and leaving infrastructure and aircraft manufacturing capacity idle.

The IATA and the ITF have called for governments to

  • provide continued financial support for the aviation industry
  • safely re-open borders without quarantine by implementing a globally harmonized system of pre-departure COVID-19 testing.

“Aviation faces an unprecedented employment catastrophe,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO. “Airlines have cut costs to the bone but have just 8.5 months of cash left under current conditions. Tens of thousands of jobs have already been lost, and unless governments provide more financial relief these are likely to increase to the hundreds of thousands. Aviation plays an essential role connecting nations and carrying essential cargo, and it is in governments’ own interests to offer further financial aid to keep the industry viable. But more importantly, governments need to work together to safely re-open borders. That means putting in place a global scheme for testing passengers for COVID-19. With that in place, quarantine can be removed, and passengers can have the confidence to fly again.”


“By the end of the year, almost 80% of wage replacement schemes will run out,” said Stephen Cotton, ITF’s General Secretary. “Without urgent intervention from governments, we will witness the biggest jobs crisis the industry has ever seen. But the catastrophic jobs crisis can be avoided with a clear, coordinated strategy built on relief, recovery and reform. The world’s aviation workers are calling on governments to deliver the financial support that will protect their jobs and to commit to working with trade unions and employers to support the industry’s long-term recovery. The aviation workforce is a skilled workforce that has been, and will continue to be, vital to nations' COVID response and recovery. If governments fail to act and support aviation, not only will they hurt the industry but also the impact will be hard felt by society at large.”

In addition to re-opening borders with testing and financial support, the organizations also called for governments to develop a roadmap for long-term industry recovery, including investment in workforce retraining and upskilling, and in green technologies, especially sustainable aviation fuels.

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