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Air Cargo is Essential in Fight Against Covid-19, Says IATA

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) on Monday requested that air cargo operations be excluded from any Covid-19-related travel restrictions to ensure life-saving medical products can be transported without disruptions.

As underlined by IATA Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac at a media briefing in Geneva, the measures that governments have introduced to restrict travel are shrinking the size of passenger operations. Over 185,000 passenger flights have been cancelled since the end of January in response to government travel restrictions.

“That is also removing significant cargo capacity from the system — capacity that is vitally needed to help keep supply chains going, including the delivery of critical medicines and medical equipment,” de Juniac stressed, underlining that governments must to do all that they can to ensure efficient cargo operations.

IATA Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac.

“That includes exempting crew—who do not interact with the public—from quarantine, granting temporary traffic rights where needed, keep air cargo excluded from travel restrictions….and other practical measures to keep cargo moving at this critical time,” he said.

Relief measures for airlines

Referring to the industry’s request on the waiver on slots — the 80-20 use-it-or-lose-it rule – de Juniac expressed concerns that the EU may only grant the suspension until June.

“It is unclear what demand will look like in June. So we are asking for this to be reviewed,” he said.

On other relief measures for airlines, IATA’s CEO underlined that governments have the financial means to avoid an industry calamity through direct financial support for carriers to compensate for reduced revenues, and therefore support liquidity due to travel restrictions; loans, loan guarantees and support for the corporate bond market by the Government or Central Bank; tax relief in the form of rebates and/or suspension on all employer imposed payroll taxes, deferral or reduction in income taxes to date in 2020 and a temporary waiver of ticket taxes and other Government-imposed levies.

De Juniac also said that reducing charges that airlines face at airports would also be helpful but “against the scale of today’s crisis” it will not save the airline industry from financial peril.

‘Connectivity is crucial’

Moreover, IATA’s president stressed that connectivity is crucial.

“Some of you may wonder why, given the broad economic impact of this crisis, governments should focus on airlines… The world will get through this crisis. And when it does it will need a functioning air transport sector,” he told the media.

According to de Juniac, in normal times, airlines transport about 35 percent of global trade and every job in air transport supports another 24 in the travel and tourism value chain — nearly 70 million jobs.

“Prioritizing air transport — helping airlines financially survive through these dark times — will position the world for the eventual recovery,” he concluded.

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