With the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis deepening in the Middle East, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has renewed its call for government relief measures for the aviation industry in the region.
IATA estimates that the Middle East and North Africa region’s airlines could lose US$24bn of passenger revenue this year compared to 2019. That is US$5bn more than was expected at the beginning of April.
According to IATA’s estimates, Oman’s aviation industry could see 4.3mn fewer passengers in 2020 resulting in a US$724mn revenue loss to the sultanate’s airlines.
This sharp decline in number of passengers at the sultanate’s airports could risk 51,500 jobs and US$1.7bn in contribution to Oman’s economy by aviation and related industries, the IATA said in a press statement on Saturday.
For the entire Middle East and North Africa region, the job losses in aviation and related industries could grow to 1.2mn. That is half of the region’s 2.4mn aviation-related employment.
Full-year 2020 traffic is expected to plummet by 51 per cent compared to 2019. GDP supported by aviation in the region could fall by US$66bn from US$130bn, IATA said.
These estimates are based on a scenario of severe travel restrictions lasting for three months, with a gradual lifting of restrictions in domestic markets, followed by regional and intercontinental.
“Airlines in the Middle East continue to be battered by the impact of COVID-19. Passenger traffic has all but ground to a halt and revenue streams have evaporated. No amount of cost cutting will save airlines from a liquidity crisis. The collapse of air transport will have devastating effects on countries’ economies and jobs. And in a region where aviation is a key pillar of many nations’ economies the effect will be much worse. Direct financial support is essential to maintain jobs and ensure airlines can remain viable businesses,” said Muhammad al Bakri, IATA’s regional vice-president for Africa and the Middle East.
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