The closure of air borders due to the coronavirus has a huge impact for airlines, many of which will require government support to recover from the crisis, the director of the Latin American and Caribbean Association of Air Transport (HIGH), Luis Felipe de Oliveira.
To contain the pandemic, which records nearly 125,000 cases worldwide and which has caused at least 4,613 deaths, the United States announced that it will suspend all trips from the 26 countries that belong to the European Schengen area as of this Friday and for 30 days. free movement, including Spain.
The United States has recorded a total of 1,215 infections and 36 deaths from COVID-19, according to data from the government Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Several Latin American countries, including El Salvador and Guatemala – where no cases of the coronavirus have yet been registered – that for weeks have prevented the entry of people from China, are now prohibiting the entry of nationals of European countries, Iran and South Korea. .
“Thirty days without flying really impacts us a lot,” de Oliveira said in Panama City.
Only “the American restriction” assumes that “our members will have more than 50% of their fleets stopped … many of the airlines do not have the financial conditions to maintain themselves during that time,” he added.
According to data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the Schengen-US space market. It represented basic passenger revenue of $ 20.6 billion in 2019.
De Oliveira recalled that IATA calculates losses for this 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic of “between 63,000 million and 113,000 million dollars, depending on future scenarios.”
The maximum projection of $ 113 billion in losses is “a fairly wide range that would also cover this impact generated by the closure of the American skies to airlines in the Schengen area,” he added.
GOVERNMENT SUPPORT TO OVERCOME EFFECTS OF THE CRISIS
De Oliveira said that the governments that are taking these “sovereign” actions to close air borders “should also think about plans to support airlines in the future, in relation to reducing operating costs, which are really high today.”
Airline is an industry “that pays a lot in terms of rates, in terms of fuel (…) governments can temporarily reduce these costs. Reducing that tax burden would be a very important way of helping us to have the possibility of recovering from the big impact, “said the senior executive.
“Unfortunately we do not know when (the crisis) will happen, but if countries continue to close their borders in the air, we certainly have an increasing impact and airlines, mainly in Latin America and the Caribbean, do not have the capacity to maintain like this for a long time, “he warned.
De Oliveira recalled that in 2019 and for the 16th consecutive year passenger traffic grew in Latin America and the Caribbean (3.9%), but that this 2020 “the numbers will probably not be positive.”
ALTA is a non-profit organization founded in 1980 that has more than 80 members between airlines in Latin America and the Caribbean with national or international services, others that are not based in the region but have interests or are doing business, and organizations and supplier companies of the aviation industry.