Aviation

Airlines could take $409 billion hit from coronavirus pandemic: IATA

Christian Fleetwood

Christian Fleetwood

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) says the prolonging of severe travel restrictions could push the aviation industry to the brink of collapse.

Global airlines have urged for immediate government relief measures, as IATA increased its estimate of 2020 revenue losses due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis to US$252 billion ($409.17 billion).

“The airline industry faces its gravest crisis,” IATA director general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac said in a statement.

“Within a matter of a few weeks, our previous worst case scenario is looking better than our latest estimates.

“But without immediate government relief measures, there will not be an industry left standing.”

With planes around the world unable to fly due to travel restrictions, and plummeting demand for flights caused by the fears of contracting the potentially deadly novel virus, airlines have been forced to ground many of their fleets. Some, without government support, face collapse.

See more: Australia’s regional carriers thrown $300 million lifeline

It comes as Europe’s largest low-cost carrier, Ryanair, announced it did not expect to fly until June.

“We do not expect to operate fl­ights during the months of April and May at this time, but this will clearly depend upon government advice, and we will in all cases comply with these instructions,” CEO Michael O’Leary said in a group letter.

IATA’s director general said certain governments had already stepped forward, but many more need to follow suit. According to de Juniac, airlines will require US$200 billion ($324 billion) in support “simply to make it through”.

The association’s latest projections of the impacts to revenue caused by COVID-19 envision a scenario where severe travel restrictions are lifted after three months.

Last week, India joined countries like China, France, Italy, New Zealand, Poland, and the UK in enforcing mass quarantines. In Australia, state and national border closures are in effect.

It comes as the United Nations predicted COVID-19 is likely to cost the international economy US$1 trillion in 2020.

“We envisage a slowdown in the global economy to under two per cent for this year, and that will probably cost in the order of $1 trillion, compared with what people were forecasting back in September,” Richard Kozul-Wright, director of UNCTAD’s globalisation and development strategies division, said.

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