The Director General of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), a trade body which represents 290 airlines around the world, has launched a thinly veiled attack against President Trump’s COVID-19 travel ban that will ground many flights between the United States and 27 European countries for at least 30-days.
Alexandre de Juniac urged governments to follow recommendations from the World Health Organisation (WHO), eluding to the fact that health experts believe travel bans are ineffective in stopping a pandemic.
“These are extraordinary times and governments are taking unprecedented measures,” cautioned de Juniac. “Safety—including public health—is always a top priority. Airlines are complying with these requirements.”
“Governments must also recognize that airlines—employing some 2.7 million people—are under extreme financial and operational pressures. They need support,” he continued.
IATA released data that showed on average there were 550 flight that flew between the United States and Schengen-area countries throughout 2019 – a total of 200,000, which flew 46 million passengers.
“Suspending travel on such a broad scale will create negative consequences across the economy. Governments must recognize this and be ready to support,” de Juniac said while conceding that governments should “impose the measures they consider necessary”.
Figures released by IATA last week estimated that airlines could stand to lose $113 billion because of the COVID-19 outbreak – that estimate did not account for such “severe measures” being implemented by the likes of the United States, as well as Israel, Kuwait and also Spain.
“This will create enormous cash-flow pressures for airlines. We have already seen Flybe go under. And this latest blow could push others in the same direction. Airlines will need emergency measures to get through this crisis,” de Juniac cautioned.
“We urge the US and other governments that have placed travel restrictions to follow the WHO guidance,” he finished.
Read more about the WHO’s guidance on travel bans here.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.