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ALTA Asks Governments to Protect Airlines Amid Pandemic

By Alicia Arizpe | Tue, 03/31/2020 - 10:44

The effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic have created a significant economic burden on airlines, putting at risk not just their operations but their capability to transport passengers and essential supplies to treat the outbreak. The Latin American Association of Air Transport (ALTA) joined Airports Council International (ACI), CANSO and IATA in calling for Latin American governments to implement measures that would protect airlines during this period.

While travel bans have hurt the aviation industry, these associations recognize their importance in containing the spread of the disease. However, while limiting passenger travel might be essential, associations warn that the transportation of essential supplies across regions and borders should continue unimpeded to ensure timely and efficient supply of medical goods and other necessary utilities to continue fighting the outbreak. The efficient transportation of air cargo has been partly limited by the cancellation of numerous passenger flights, which in turn has put airlines in a liquidity crisis. IATA’s Alexandre de Juniac explained that the much necessary cargo sector is struggling to meet demand. “Passenger operations have been reduced so drastically that there is just not enough capacity in the system to meet even the reduced levels of air cargo. And, as I have said before, this includes vital medical shipments on which people’s lives depend,” he said on March 31.

For that reason, ALTA joined other industry associations in their request to local governments to include the “aviation sector in any national scheme or special aid package to provide relief for the current dire situation.” The associations asked Latin American governments to support the continuous operations of airports, airlines and their service providers through several measures including debt renegotiation, adjustments to working conditions, flexibility regarding airport slots and temporary relief in requirements for infrastructure developments.

ALTA also indicated that airlines would require support not just through the crisis but also through its aftermath as their recovery is essential for Latin America due to the region’s reliance in national and international aviation for tourism, connectivity and transportation of goods. “If … this industry does not survive the COVID-19 outbreak, the socio-economic recovery from this crisis across the region will be severely hampered,” said the associations in a joint press release.

Alicia Arizpe Alicia Arizpe Senior Writer