IATA and its members continue to support
governments in their efforts to contain the spread of COVID19. At
this time of extreme pressure on the industry, IATA urged
- Prepare for the broad economic consequences of
these actions, - Respond quickly to the financial frailty of
airlines, and - Follow WHO (World Health Organization)
These calls come in response to the US
government’s banning of non-US citizens, and individuals who are
not legal permanent residents of the US, who have been in the
Schengen Area in the past 14 days from entry into the United
“These are extraordinary times and governments are
taking unprecedented measures. Safety - including public health - is
always a top priority. 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,” said Alexandre de
Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
When taking such measures, IATA urged governments
to prepare for the adverse economic impact that they will cause.
The dimensions of the US-Europe market are enormous.
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
While the US measure recognizes the need to
continue to facilitate trans-Atlantic trade, the economic fallout
of this will be broad.
“Governments must impose the measures they
consider necessary to contain the virus. And they must be fully
prepared to provide support to buffer the economic dislocation
that this will cause. In normal times, air transport is a catalyst
for economic growth and development. Suspending travel on such a
broad scale will create negative consequences across the economy.
Governments must recognize this and be ready to support,” said de
The US measures will add to this financial
pressure. The total value of the US-Schengen market in 2019 was
$20.6 billion. The markets facing the heaviest impact are
US-Germany ($4 billion), US-France ($3.5 billion) and US-Italy
“This will create enormous cash-flow pressures for
airlines. We have already seen Flybe go under. And this latest
blow could push others in the same direction,” added de Juniac. “Airlines will need
emergency measures to get through this crisis. Governments should
be looking at all possible means to assist the industry through
these extreme circumstances. Extending lines of credit, reducing
infrastructure costs, lightening the tax burden are all measures
that governments will need to explore. 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.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) continues to
advise against the application of travel or trade restrictions to
countries experiencing outbreaks, though on Wednesday Dr. Tedros
Adhanom Ghebreyesus, DG of the WHO, did state that countries with
no confirmed COVID19 cases at all, of which there were 81 at the
time, should "do everything they can to make sure that the virus
does not step foot in their country".
According to the WHO's latest COVID19 update,
published at 10am CET on 12 March, there were 125,048 confirmed
cases (6,729 new within past 24 hours) and 4,613 deaths (321 new
within past 24 hours) globally. In China 80,981 confirmed (26 new)
and 3,173 deaths (11 new). Outside of China there were 44,067
confirmed (6,703 new) and 1,440 deaths (310 new).
“We urge the US and other governments that have
placed travel restrictions to follow the WHO guidance. This is
fast evolving. Health and safety are the top priorities for
governments and the air transport sector. But the effectiveness
and necessity of travel restrictions must be continuously
reviewed,” said de Juniac.