KUALA LUMPUR, March 26 -- The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has appealed to the governments of 18 Asia-Pacific member states for emergency support to airlines as they fight for survival due to the drastic plunge in air travel demand while COVID-19 rages on unconstrained.
Malaysia, Bangladesh, India, Japan, Pakistan, the Philippines, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries called upon by the association to help out.
IATA director-general and chief executive officer Alexandre de Juniac said airlines were fighting for survival as travel restrictions and evaporating demand meant that, aside from cargo, there was almost no passenger business.
“For airlines, it’s apocalypse now and there is a small and shrinking window for governments to provide a lifeline of financial support to prevent a liquidity crisis from shuttering the industry. We need them to understand that without urgent relief, many airlines will not be around to lead the recovery stage.
“Failure to act now will make this crisis longer and more painful. Some 2.7 million airline jobs are at risk and each of those jobs supports a further 24 in the travel and tourism value chain,” he said in a statement today.
According to de Juniac, IATA has proposed several options for governments to consider, among them, direct financial support to passenger and cargo carriers to compensate for reduced revenues and liquidity attributable to travel restrictions imposed as a result of COVID-19.
IATA further called on the governments and their respective central banks to provide loans, loan guarantees and support for the corporate bond market, which is a vital source of finance as well as tax relief.
A growing number of governments in Asia-Pacific, including Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, have announced financial relief packages for the airline industry.
Australia, for example, has prepared an A$715 million (RM1.85 billion) aid package comprising refunds and forward waivers on fuel taxes, and domestic air navigation and regional aviation security charges.
New Zealand’s government will open a NZ$900 million (RM2.28 billion) loan facility to its national carrier as well as an additional NZ$600 million (RM1.52 billion) relief package for the aviation sector specially to ensure continuity in air freight capacity.
Singapore has undertaken relief measures valued at S$112 million (RM336.31 million) including rebates on airport charges, assistance to ground handling agents, and rental rebates at Changi Airport.
Malaysia National News Agency
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