Tuesday 9 June 2020 3:20 pm

Airlines face £84bn loss in 'worst year in aviation history'

Global aviation body the International Air Transport Association (IATA) today said that the coronavirus crisis will see the world’s airlines make record losses of over £$100bn over 2020 and 2021.

At a press conference this afternoon, director general Alexandre de Juniac said: “The losses this year will be the biggest in aviation history—over $84bn  in 2020 and nearly $16bn in 2021”.

By contrast, he said, the financial crisis of 2008 to 2009, combined with the global spike in oil prices, cost airlines just $31bn. 

“There is no comparison for the dimension of this crisis”, de Juniac said. 2020 will go down as the “worst year in the history of aviation”.

In its previous estimates, IATA had said the crisis would remove over $300bn from airlines’ revenues over 2020, a 55 per cent fall in revenues.

Speaking today, de Juniac said that passenger numbers would rise 51 per cent next year from this year’s nadir, but said overall figures would still be 29 per cent down on pre-coronavirus levels.

Due to the unprecedented lockdowns and travel bans imposed around the world, many governments have had to step in and prop up their struggling carries.

As a result, IATA revealed, the cumulative debt of the world’s airlines has risen from $120bn to $550bn – approximately 92 per cent of next year’s expected revenue.

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De Juniac also said that governments should try to avoid implementing lockdown measures, calling on them instead to rely on screening measures, contact tracing, and in-flight health precautions.

He said: “This layered approach should give governments the confidence to re-open borders without quarantine measures. 

“Quite frankly, if quarantine is introduced economies are effectively kept in lockdown for the purposes of travel. Over 80 per cent of travellers tell us that if quarantine is imposed, they won’t travel”.

The Frenchman’s words came as the UK government came under increasing pressure from business groups, airlines and politicians to scrap the blanket quarantine measures it implemented yesterday.

The plan has met with outcry from aviation bosses, with Easyjet, Ryanair and British Airways in the process of launching legal action against the government.

Most want authorities to replace the blanket measures with targeted air bridges to low-risk countries.

A government spokesperson confirmed that the measures were being considered, but did not give a date for them to be implemented. 

However, a group of businesses lobbying against the quarantine said that they had received assurances from senior government officials that air bridges would be in place by 29 June.