25 million jobs in aviation and related sectors are at risk, says IATA

GENEVA — Some 25 million jobs are at risk due to plummeting demand for air travel, says IATA.

According to new analysis released in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, the livelihoods of approximately 65.5 million people are dependent on the aviation industry, including sectors such as travel and tourism. Among these are 2.7 million airline jobs.

In a scenario of severe travel restrictions lasting for three months, IATA calculates that 25 million jobs in aviation and related sectors are endangered across the world, including 2.0 million jobs in North America.

In the same scenario, airlines are expected to see full-year passenger revenues fall by $252 billion (-44%) in 2020 compared to 2019. The second quarter is the most critical with demand falling 70% at its worst point, and airlines burning through $61 billion in cash.

“There are no words to adequately describe the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the airline industry. And the economic pain will be shared by 25 million people who work in jobs dependent upon airlines. Airlines must be viable businesses so that they can lead the recovery when the pandemic is contained. A lifeline to the airlines now is critical,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

Airlines are calling on governments to provide immediate financial aid to help airlines to remain viable businesses able to lead the recovery when the pandemic is contained. IATA is specifically calling for direct financial support, loans, loan guarantees and support for the corporate bond market, as well as tax relief.

“We have never shuttered the industry on this scale before. Consequently, we have no experience in starting it up. It will be complicated. At the practical level, we will need contingencies for licenses and certifications that have expired,” added de Juniac. “We will have to adapt operations and processes to avoid reinfections via imported cases. And we must find a predictable and efficient approach to managing travel restrictions which need to be lifted before we can get back to work. These are just some of the major tasks that are ahead of us. And to be successful, industry and government must be aligned and working together.”

IATA is scoping a comprehensive approach to re-booting the industry when governments and public health authorities allow. A multi-stakeholder approach will be essential. One initial step is a series of virtual meetings—or summits—on a regional basis, bringing together governments and industry stakeholders. The main objectives will be understanding what is needed to reopen closed borders, and agreeing on solutions that can be operationalized and scaled efficiently.

“We don’t want to repeat the mistakes made after 9.11 when many new processes were imposed in an uncoordinated way. We ended up with a mess of measures that we are still sorting out today,” said de Juniac. “The 25 million people whose jobs are at risk by this crisis will depend on an efficient re-start of the industry.”

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