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‘Time running out on financial lifelines for air travel reboot’

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The Airports Council International (ACI) World, and the International Air Transport Association (IATA), yesterday, warned that time was running out on financial supports for quick restart of the air travel business in many countries.

The bodies said the financial lifelines were most critical to keep aviation infrastructure and aircraft running for seamless return to operations. Unfortunately, many governments are not coming forth.

The Guardian, yesterday reported that the aviation regulatory agencies and key service providers were in dire straits over operating cost of facilities and payment of salary estimated in excess of N6billion a month.

Without revenue in the last one month due to lockdown, sustaining the heavy overhead and keeping the critical facilities serviceable are already a tough call among the government parastatals in Nigeria.

ACI and IATA yesterday reiterated the call for governments to quickly grant financial relief to assist airport operators and airlines during the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis and support the essential connectivity the industry will provide for economic recovery.

They said the industry was united with governments worldwide in efforts to stop the spread of the virus, and, in the face of massive government-imposed travel restrictions, the industry is doing all it can to maintain air cargo operations vital to supporting global supply chains, including medical shipments critical to fighting COVID-19.

The economic impact of these measures on all involved in the global air transport industry has been severe. With passenger demand plummeting to unprecedented levels, revenues are falling beyond the ability of even the most extreme cost-cutting measures to mitigate. Airports and airlines continue to face a financial liquidity crisis.

The current state of the global air transport industry risks the loss of millions of jobs. The aviation industry supports 65.5 million jobs around the world, including 10.5 million people employed at airports and by airlines, and supports $2.7trillion in world economic activity. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold, airports and airlines around the world are engaged in a battle to sustain essential operations and to preserve jobs.

ACI and IATA are calling for urgent balanced support to the industry via: taxation relief, including alleviation of payroll taxes, corporate taxes, concession fees or other government incomes from the industry; loans, loan guarantees or direct support to maintain financial liquidity across the aviation ecosystem.

Some governments have recognised the urgency of action but time is running out for other governments to provide the necessary financial relief to keep the whole industry viable and ready to support a balanced recovery including ground handlers and other service providers at airports.

ACI World Director-General, Angela Gittens, said the financial impact of the current crisis was unlike anything we have ever seen and requires urgent action by governments to assist the aviation industry to protect jobs, ensure essential operations, and plan for recovery.

“Urgent tax relief and direct financial assistance that is to the benefit of the entire aviation ecosystem is needed to help preserve millions of jobs, protect essential operations, and foster a balanced recovery. Preserving the continuity of operations for airports and airlines and protecting aviation jobs today will result in a faster economic recovery tomorrow,” Gittens said. IATA’s Director-General and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Alexandre de Juniac, said the situation could not be direr.

“Governments will depend on aviation to be ready to lead an economic recovery when this pandemic is behind us. Governments must act now with financial lifelines that only they can provide for airlines and airports to see them through these extraordinary times.

“Airlines and airports are in this together. The more financially stable our airport partners are, the more they can help the industry to drive a recovery in air travel that will jump start the global economy,” de Juniac said.


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