IATA calls on the Caribbean to Support Aviation

Aircraft taxiing

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has renewed its call on governments in the Caribbean and Latin America to support the air transport industry both in terms of providing financial relief and support, as well as by facilitating the restart of services in line with the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) Take-off guidelines.

Promised aid from Caribbean and Latin American governments stand at USD 0.3 billion, which equates to only 0.8% of the 2019 revenue (USD 38 billion) generated by the airlines in the region. This is the lowest percentage of any global region.

Globally the promised government financial aid is currently around USD 123 billion which equals 14% of 2019’s total airline revenues of USD 838 billion.

“Aviation across the continent is now going into its fourth month of standstill. Even with a few countries having allowed the resumption of service, the majority are still keeping us grounded. As an industry we have worked with all stakeholders in the value chain to ensure that we can restart in line with the globally agreed Take-off guidelines published by ICAO. Unfortunately, we are not making the expected progress with governments implementing these, and any further suspension of operations is placing the future of aviation in jeopardy”, said Peter Cerdá, IATA’s Regional Vice President for the Americas.

In the Caribbean, regional airline LIAT has collapsed and three of the four largest airlines in Latin America have already filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the US.

With revenues having largely dried up, but costs needing to be covered, airlines are burning cash at unprecedented rates. IATA analysis suggests that airlines consumed cash reserves of USD 61 billion in the second quarter alone. Therefore, governments urgently need to provide financial relief and support, which has been particularly lacking in the Caribbean and Latin America region.

IATA’s latest financial forecast sees the industry losing USD 84.3 billion in 2020, with airlines in the Caribbean and Latin America set to post a USD 4 billion loss. Aviation’s contribution to GDP in the region is set to shrink by USD 98 billion this year, putting 4.1 million jobs at risk.

Aviation has up to now played a crucial role in all economies across the the region simply lacks viable alternatives such as roads or railroads. Therefore, aviation must be allowed to resume as quickly as possible.

“What we need as an industry is for governments to provide clear dates on when we can restart flying. The agreed ICAO Take-off protocols are the harmonized global blueprint for resuming services. States now need to implement these and not each individually reinvent the wheel. While we understand that governments are concerned for the health of their citizens, hindering an industry that has developed robust protocols to ensure that air travel does not become a vector for the spread of COVID-19 will not help in the so badly needed socio-economic recovery”, said Cerdá.

Across the Caribbean, several countries have reopened therir borders including The Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Barbados and Jamaica.

“It is good to see that we are making some progress in the reopening of markets, especially across the Caribbean. However, governments need to continue to align their protocols with those of the ICAO. Diverging from these places an operational burden on the airlines and creates confusion among travelers, at a time where restoring confidence is essential. Ensuring that all stakeholders along the travel value chain work together is essential so we can contribute to the economic revival of this region”, said Cerdá.