MOMBASA, KENYA: The International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) issued a joint statement calling for urgent government intervention to prevent an unemployment 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 per cent (August 2020 compared to August 2019).
The impact of COVID-19 related border restrictions and quarantine measures has effectively closed down the aviation industry, grounding planes and leaving infrastructure and aircraft manufacturing capacity idle.
The IATA and the ITF request to governments include calls to provide continued financial support for the aviation industry, safely re-open borders without quarantine by implementing a globally harmonised system of pre-departure COVID-19 testing.
Aviation faces an unprecedented employment catastrophe. Airlines have cut costs to the bone.
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''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’ interests to offer further financial aid to keep the industry viable,'' said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA's Director General and CEO.
He added that 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,” said de Juniac.
“The global aviation industry is in a state of prolonged crisis. By the end of the year, almost 80 per cent of wage replacement schemes will run out, 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 a coordinated strategy built on relief, recovery, and reform,''ITF General Secretary, Mr Stephen Cotton said.
The world’s aviation workers are calling on governments to act now, 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, Cotton said, is a skilled workforce that has been, and will continue to be, vital to nations' COVID-19 response and recovery.
''If governments fail to act and support aviation, not only will they hurt the industry, the impacts will be hard felt by society at large,” said Cotton.
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.
“The ability and speed that countries recover from Covid-19, is closely linked to the recovery of global air connectivity,” said the joint statement.