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Middle East aviation sector to lose 1.7mn jobs this year: IATA

3 Oct 2020

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) warned that the damage being done to the Middle East aviation industry and on economies by the shutdown of air traffic owing to the COVID-19 pandemic has deepened.

According to the figures released by the Air Transport Action Group of which IATA is a member, around 1.7mn jobs in the Middle East’s aviation and aviation-related industries will be lost in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and border closures. This is nearly half of the region’s 3.3mn aviation-related employment.

As per the IATA estimates, 323,000 jobs will be lost in aviation alone in the region in 2020. This is about 46 per cent of the region’s 595,000 aviation-related jobs, IATA said in a press statement.

It said the GDP supported by aviation in the region, will fall by up to US$105bn this year. This is 49 per cent below pre COVID-19 levels.

“This latest research highlights the urgency of restarting aviation in the Middle East. Normally aviation contributes US$213bn to the region’s GDP. Closing borders has reduced this to US$108bn. That loss has severe consequences, not least of which is the loss of 1.7mn jobs. Governments in the Middle East must protect their citizens from COVID-19 while also protecting their livelihoods,” said Muhammad Albakri, IATA’s regional vice president for Africa and the Middle East.

To minimise the impact on jobs and the broader Middle East economy, an accelerated recovery of air transport across the region is paramount, IATA said, adding, ‘This can be achieved through COVID-19 testing as an alternative to restrictive quarantine measures.’

‘Eleven countries in the Middle East have opened their borders to regional and international air travel. However, in nine of these countries, passengers are still subject to a mandatory quarantine. This effectively stops people from travelling,’ the statement said.

IATA has called for the systematic testing of passengers before departure. This willenable governments to safely open borders without quarantine and better support recovery efforts. 

“Quarantine measures are crippling the industry’s recovery and hampering its ability to support social and economic development. Testing for COVID-19 will enable the Middle East and the world to safely re-connect and recover,” Albakri added.


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