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IATA issues renewed call for Latin American intervention

written by Sandy Milne | June 16, 2020

Argentinean state-owned airline Aerolineas has grounded almost all of its fleet (Source: Australian Aviation archives)

After warning Latin American countries mid-May that government support would likely be needed to shore up the regional aviation sector, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has once again called for action from respective governments.

“This is our last chance to survive this crisis. Time is against us and every day that goes by places more agony on an industry that is seeking clarity on timelines to restart operations,” said Peter Cerdá, IATA regional vice president for the Americas.

“No sector has the liquidity to stay afloat during a four- or five-month standstill. We recognise the efforts made by the authorities in fighting this pandemic and we understand what countries are facing, but air transport is essential for our region and cannot be allowed to disappear.”

Countries in the region hold to some of the strictest travel restrictions globally, with the Colombian government recently following Argentina’s lead in sealing its external borders through to September. 

Yet at the same time, Latin American and Caribbean governments have also been the most reluctant to provide government assistance, loans, or grants – an approach the IATA has been a vocal critic of.

Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, aviation contributed US$167 billion to the region’s combined GDP, as well as supporting 7.2 million jobs. IATA forecasts now show a drop of at least US$77 billion in this contribution to GDP, with more than 3.5 million of these jobs now at risk.

“In countries like Panama, where air transport sustained nearly a quarter of a million jobs and its main airport offered connections to nearly 90 international destinations before the pandemic, it is worrying that the government has so far failed to take any firm action to provide tangible support to the industry,” added Cerdá.

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“The same is true in Peru, where financial relief is urgently needed for an industry that is key to its population and its economy, and operations must be allowed to resume in July.”

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