Coronavirus: Airlines highlight economic impact across Europe

Iata has demanded “urgent action” by European governments to provide financial relief for carriers.

Airline association Iata warned Europe’s airlines could lose $76 billion due to the coronavirus crisis this week, with passenger traffic for 2020 forecast to be near half the level of 2019.

The association warned UK carriers could see almost 114 million fewer passengers year on year resulting in almost $22 billion in lost revenue.

It suggested German airlines would see a $15 billion loss and 84 million fewer passengers, and Spain a $13 billion revenue loss and 94 million fewer passengers

Iata estimates the loss in Italy at $9.5 billion and almost 68 million passengers and in France $12 billion and 65 million passengers.

The association noted some European governments have already acted, including Norway, Sweden, Finland, Spain, and Italy”, but said: “It is vital governments step up their efforts.”

Iata is urging governments to offer a combination of direct financial support, loans and loan guarantees and tax relief.

Rafael Schvartzman, Iata regional vice-president for Europe, said: “Support is urgently needed, first [to] keep airlines financially viable during the present lockdown, preserve jobs, maintain essential connections to repatriate citizens, and carry life-saving air cargo.

“Second, this would avoid broad economic damage by ensuring airlines can rapidly scale-up operations when travel restrictions are lifted.”

Iata has also called on regulators to amend air passenger rights rules, permitting use of vouchers instead of refunds.

Schvartzman said: “Some regulators are taking positive action. But there is more to do. Amendments are urgently needed to give more flexibility for EU 261 [on air passenger rights].”

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