The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has called on governments to help airlines through a difficult period following the reduction in flights between Europe and the US.
IATA and its members continue to support governments in their efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19, but many airlines have had to ground the majority of their fleet and put staff on unpaid leave.
Following US President Donald Trump’s decision to enforce a travel ban on non-Americans who have been in the Schengen Area in the past 14 days, IATA said governments must react swiftly to alleviate the concerns of the air transport industry.
Governments must also recognize that airlines are under extreme financial and operational pressures. They need support
In 2019, there was a total of around 200,000 flights scheduled between the United States and the Schengen Area, equivalent to around 550 flights per day. There were around 46 million passengers (roughly equivalent to 125,000 travelers every day).
IATA said States should prepare for the economic consequences of the US directive and urged against travel restrictions as per World Health Organization advice, which continues to advise against travel or trade restrictions.
“These are extraordinary times and governments are taking unprecedented measures. Safety—including public health—is always a top priority,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
“Airlines are complying with these requirements. Governments must also recognize that airlines—employing some 2.7 million people—are under extreme financial and operational pressures. They need support.”
IATA added that the travel ban between Europe and the US would hit airlines already struggling to deal with the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on demand.
De Juniac said airlines would require “emergency measures” to get through the crisis, and called on governments to explore all options to assist airlines, including extending credit lines, lowering infrastructure costs and reducing tax burdens.
“Air transport is vital, but without a lifeline from governments we will have a sectoral financial crisis piled on top of the public health emergency,’ said de Juniac.
- To read IATA analysis of the impact of the US travel ban, click here