Singapore Airlines
Singapore Airlines has just gone through its worst quarterly losses ever, and is moving to raise cash from the debt markets. The airline is among the stronger ones - but many aren't. Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

Dubai: Governments worldwide will need to show their support for airlines more forcefully to keep an estimated 4.8 million aviation industry workers in their jobs. Moreso after the new round of lockdowns in Europe push airlines to the brink.

“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,” said the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) in a statement. Only government intervention can prevent an “employment catastrophe”.

Estimates from the Air Transport Action Group suggest air travel demand has dropped by more than 75 per cent. The organizations have called for continued financial support for the aviation industry, along with the re-opening of borders without quarantine procedures.

Read More

Fast running out of cash

“Airlines have cut costs to the bone, but have just 8.5 months of cash left under current conditions," said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director-General. "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.”

The organizations also called for the development of 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 statement. “Government intervention and investment therefore must not just provide support for the air transport industry now, but also to ensure that it is fit-for-purpose and able to support the world’s return to normality from the pandemic.”