International Air Transport Association says 1.7 million Middle East jobs will be lost in aviation and industries supported by aviation in 2020
No-one has escaped the coronavirus impact as staff at Dubai-based Emirates Airline were this month invited to take unpaid leave of up to six months.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has warned that the damage being done to the Middle East aviation industry and on economies by the shutdown of air traffic owing to the coronavirus pandemic has deepened further.
According to new data published by the Air Transport Action Group of which IATA is a member, 1.7 million Middle East jobs will be lost in aviation and industries supported by aviation in 2020. This is nearly half of the region’s 3.3 million aviation-related employment. It added that a total of 323,000 jobs will be lost in aviation alone in 2020, about 46 percent of the region’s 595,000 aviationrelated jobs. GDP supported by aviation in the region will fall by up to $105 billion, 49 percent below pre Covid-19 levels, it warned.
No-one has escaped its impact as staff at Dubai-based Emirates Airline were this month invited to take unpaid leave of up to six months.
“This latest research highlights the urgency of restarting aviation in the Middle East. Normally aviation contributes $213 billion to the region’s GDP. Closing borders has reduced this to $108 billion. That loss has severe consequences, not least of which is the loss of 1.7 million 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, he said, adding that 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.
Oman opened its borders on Thursday but only to residents and citizens, meaning the country is still a no go area for international tourists.
IATA said this effectively stops people from travelling, calling for the systematic testing of passengers before departure to enable 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,” said Albakri.
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