The International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) have again appealed for urgent government intervention to prevent an employment catastrophe in the global 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 Nigerian Government has disclosed plans to support operating carriers with N4 billion, which stakeholders have described as too small. Aviation accounts for over 124,000 direct and indirect jobs in the country.
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.
IATA’s Director-General and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Alexandre de Juniac, said aviation faces an unprecedented employment catastrophe with governments’ support for airlines.
“Airlines have cut costs to the bone, but have just 8.5 months of cash left under current conditions. 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 in connecting nations and carrying essential cargo, and it is in governments’ own interests to offer further financial aid to keep the industry viable.
“But 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,” de Juniac said.ITF’s General Secretary, Stephen Cotton, added that 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 coordinated strategy built on relief, recovery and reform.
“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 is a skilled workforce that has been and will continue to be, vital to nations’ COVID 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,” Cotton said.
In addition to reopening borders with testing and financial support, the organisations also called on 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.“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.”