Covid testing must be used to safely re-open borders, re-establish global connectivity and prevent a “systemic collapse” of the aviation industry.
The fresh plea to remove quarantine restrictions came from airports and airlines amid industry fears that 46 million jobs are at risk because of the loss of connectivity caused by the coronavirus crisis.
The Airports Council International and Iata reinforced their call for governments to act on testing – and foot the bill.
Re-opening borders safely without quarantine by using a co-ordinated approach to testing would boost the entire economy and be a revenue lifeline for airlines and airports, according to the two industry organisations.
ACI estimates the airport industry will suffer a 60% reduction in revenues, reaching a record $104.5 billion due to the impact of the pandemic.
Iata believes that airline revenues will be down at least 50% to $419 billion compared to $838 billion in 2019.
ACI and Iata have called on an ICAO Council aviation recovery task force to provide an internationally agreed and recognised approach to testing that can be adopted at a national level.
Governments are also being urged to address the “devastating impact” of border closures and other government-imposed travel restrictions by supporting aviation’s viability through direct financial support that:
- protects jobs and operations
- does not increase debt levels, and
- minimises default on debt and credit losses.
ACI and Iata are “united in the belief that costs related to public health measures aimed at mitigating the spread of communicable diseases, including the introduction of a co-ordinated approach to testing, should be borne by national governments”.
ACI director general Luis Felipe de Oliveira said: “The Covid-19 pandemic remains an existential crisis and airports, airlines and their commercial partners need direct and swift financial assistance to protect essential operations and jobs.
“But such assistance is only one piece of the puzzle as the industry restarts and prepares to sustain continuing operations focused on the health and welfare of travellers, staff and the public.
“ACI and Iata are aligned in calling for urgent government action to introduce widespread and co-ordinated testing of passengers to enable quarantine requirements to be removed.
“Without this action, it is not an exaggeration that the industry is facing collapse.”
Iata director general and chief executive Alexandre de Juniac warned: “We need action quickly. Large parts of the global air network have been severely ruptured for well over a half year.
“Job losses – inside and outside the industry – mount with each day that borders are closed. And with each job lost the recovery and impact on the broader economy becomes even more difficult.
“Momentum is building in support of testing to re-open borders. It’s the top operational priority. And to make sure that we have a viable aviation sector at the end of this crisis a second round of financial relief is unavoidable.”