A large number of Latin American airlines will close if they do not resume flights in the coming weeks, in a region where public aid to the sector is minimal, warned Peter Cerdá, vice-president for the Americas of the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
“If border restrictions or closures continue into September or October, we have the possibility that a large majority of our airlines will begin to disappear in our region,” he said.
By that time, the airlines would be inactive for six or seven months, due to the closures decreed in an attempt to contain the coronavirus pandemic, which makes it “very difficult” and “complicated” for them to “survive” in that time, he added.
Cerdá also noted that in Latin America and the Caribbean, state aid to refloat the sector “has been practically nil” and that is why “we have the results we have at the level of airlines closing” or restructuring.
Globally, “governments have given around US$130 billion to the (aeronautical) industry to survive this situation,” Cerdá said.
The majority of that aid, US$60 billion, comes from the United States and “a large percentage from Europe,” while only “1%” corresponds to public aid in Latin American countries, he said.
However, Cerdá said that the main aid that IATA asks governments for “is not monetary. The main request is that “central governments give the order to reactivate and restart air transport in our region” using biosafety protocols, he said.
To date, according to an AFP count, of the more than 17 million infections reported globally, Latin America and the Caribbean have accumulated 4.6 million, the highest number of infections worldwide. In addition, it accounts for more than 192,000 deaths out of the more than 668,000 recorded globally.
According to IATA, in 2020 the global number of passengers is expected to decrease by 55% compared to 2019. In June, international air traffic contracted 96.8% compared to last year, while in Latin America and the Caribbean passenger demand plunged by 96.6%.
IATA recently warned that global air traffic will have to wait four years to recover its pre-pandemic viral levels.