The International Air Transport Association (IATA) urged Latin American countries this Thursday to implement the sanitary protocols approved by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and to reactivate the air sector in the region to avoid a collapse of the airlines. .
IATA Vice President for the Americas, Peter Cerdá, stressed today at a press conference that “the sector is ready to reactivate” at a time when the fourth month of unemployment caused by the spread of the pandemic of COVID-19.
Cerdá admitted that “Latin America is right now the epicenter of the pandemic,” although he showed confidence that “with ICAO protocols, you can fly safely.”
IATA, which groups commercial airlines, indicated that it expects that the impact of the aviation sector slowdown in Latin America and the Caribbean as a result of COVID-19 will cost the region 4.1 million jobs and 98,000 millions of dollars.
For example in Argentina, IATA estimates that the country’s airlines will stop receiving 3,280 million dollars, which will reduce their income in 2020 compared to 2019 by 65%. The break in the sector will mean the elimination of 19,800 direct jobs.
In Brazil, revenues will fall by 53%, which will mean that airlines will stop receiving 10.21 billion dollars. In addition, 81,200 direct jobs will be lost.
But IATA warned that for the Brazilian economy as a whole, the air hiatus will mean 6.250 million dollars and 299,700 jobs for the country.
“The situation is extremely delicate in Latin America,” added Cerdá, who also requested “urgent” financial support for the airlines. According to IATA data, the financial aid offered by the countries of the region to airlines is only 1% of their operating income in 2019.
IATA contrasted this figure with 25% in North America, 15% in Europe and 10% in Asia-Pacific.
Cerdá pointed out that IATA held a “very transparent” meeting with the country’s authorities today during which the restoration of international and domestic flights and aid to the sector were discussed.
The IATA representative indicated that, so far, Buenos Aires has not yet formalized the financial support that it will offer to the sector and assured that the association “will continue to look for alternatives.”
IATA also said that they are “on the right track” and put as a model for other countries the decision of the Argentine authorities to regularize repatriation flights during the months of July and August.
“We support it 100% and we would expect other countries to do the same,” said Cerdá.
The IATA vice president said they are in talks with the Chilean authorities to establish a protocol to reactivate the flights.
Regarding financial aid, Cerdá pointed out that they are waiting for the Government to communicate the adopted formulas, which can be the reduction of airport or navigation costs.
Although Cerdá expressed his general satisfaction with the level of collaboration achieved between IATA and the Colombian authorities, the director said he was “concerned” that the ICAO protocols remain unapproved one month after its completion.
IATA wants Colombia to establish “concrete dates” for the resumption of domestic flights and said that the pilot flights proposed by the authorities “will not work.”
Likewise, Cerdá rejected the validity of operating from secondary airports and demanded the opening of the Bogotá airport. “There is frustration in the industry,” he said.
Cerdá said he is confident that the Panamanian authorities will not extend the restrictive measures in the air sector again and instead adopt the ICAO health protocols.
“We call on the Panamanian government to implement these protocols and to establish a restart date that does not go beyond the date that has been established, at the end of July,” he explained.
IATA called Mexico “one of the airport leaders in the region”, which has granted aid to reduce additional costs for airlines.
But Cerdá requested the reopening of the Cancun airport because “it plays a very important role in the recovery of the country’s economy, tourism and air transport. It is the only thing pending.”
Cerdá added that “the negotiations are on the right track” and that there is still talk of “opportunities” regarding taxes and other costs.
IATA also expressed its rejection of countries charging the costs of COVID-19 tests carried out at airports to establish whether they can board.
Finally, the agency also said that it has no problem in states reincorporating into the capital of airlines, as is happening in Europe and North America, if this guarantees their viability.