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COVID-19 impact on air transport in Europe to be really bad

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) publishes new estimates for the impacts of COVID-19 on air transport and economies in Europe. It indicates a further deterioration in revenues, job prospects and economic activity across the continent.

IATA’s latest economic forecast reveals that in 2021 Europe will be the worst-hit global region in terms of airline losses. They will reach $11.9 billion. Passenger traffic has fallen 70% this year, the worst performance.

“Our projections for this year and next are little short of a disaster for European air transport. Border restrictions and quarantine measures brought demand to a halt. The region has been affected even worse than most other parts of the world. There is optimism over a vaccine, but as our forecast for next year shows, this is unlikely to come in time to prevent hundreds of thousands more job losses. Unless governments take immediate action. The focus must remain on rapid testing of passengers,” says Rafael Schvartzman, IATA’s Regional Vice President for Europe.

An in-depth look at the national level impacts reveals that prospects for passenger numbers and industry revenues declined since the analysis in August. This inevitably feeds into greater numbers of jobs at risk and negative economic impacts. Across Europe as a whole more than 7 million jobs have been lost or are at imminent risk due to the COVID-19 shutdown.

“Remove quarantine, add rapid COVID-19 testing”

The impact of travel restrictions and quarantine on travel demand is clear. Intra-EU bookings are 81% down for the period to 10 January 2021. Economic recovery will be hampered by the loss of connectivity that is being felt by European cities. Since 2019, total connectivity declined by 68% in Frankfurt, 67% in London, 67% in Paris,  66% in Istanbul, 64% in Moscow, and 53% in Amsterdam.

“We see hope in vaccines. But mass inoculation is still a long way off. European governments and the European Commission must act quickly to help preserve what remains of the aviation industry and air transport network. Two priorities stand out at this time. First, remove quarantine restrictions by introducing rapid COVID-19 testing of air passengers. The latest guidance from EASA and ECDC confirms that quarantine is ineffective in the present circumstances. And second, quickly agree on a slot regulation in line with the joint industry recommendations. This, in order to preserve air routes and competition. People are desperate to visit families this winter. Businesses are desperate for travelers and trade. And we are all desperate for action from governments to safely restore the freedom to travel,” says Schvartzman.

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