Association: Corona crisis will cost airlines over $ 200 billion


According to association estimates, the corona pandemic will cause losses of more than 200 billion US dollars in the aviation industry. For this year, a minus of 52 billion dollars (currently 44.7 billion euros) is expected, said the general director of the global airline association IATA, Willie Walsh.

At the same time, the low point of the crisis has passed. For the coming year, the organization still expects red numbers of around twelve billion dollars, until the bottom line is that the industry will be profitable again in 2023.

Last year, with the drastic slump in air traffic, airlines posted a loss of 138 billion dollars worldwide, according to IATA figures. The airlines would have received $ 243 billion in government support, of which around 110 billion would have to be repaid.

At the same time, Walsh said that not all airlines would benefit equally from the recovery in the coming year. International air traffic will continue to be lower than it used to be.

Despite the difficult financial situation, the industry decided, under increasing pressure, to fly climate-neutral by 2050. This requires a combination of sustainably produced fuel, new aircraft designs, more efficiency, as well as binding carbon dioxide and offsetting emissions, said Walsh at the IATA annual conference in Boston. There was resistance from Chinese airlines to the objective, but this did not prevail.

With the adoption at the annual meeting, the goal is now the official position of the IATA, said Walsh. But the individual airlines could take different paths and set their own goals, he emphasized. The debate shows how much this is a challenge.

Passengers were increasingly interested in their carbon footprint as well as in legroom in the aircraft, said the head of the ICAO aviation organization, Salvatore Sciacchitano. That is why the industry has to act.

At the same time, people wanted to fly, stressed Walsh. Domestic flights in some markets have now almost reached pre-coronavirus pandemic levels. That shows that people wanted to travel, stressed Walsh at the IATA annual conference in Boston. At the same time, he demanded that corona measures should only remain in force as long as they were needed – “and not a day longer”. “There should be no obstacles for vaccinated travelers,” said Walsh.

The industry is also hoping for a further recovery with the reopening of entry to the USA for vaccinated travelers, including those from the EU, announced for the beginning of November. The airlines had been demanding this for months. Walsh no longer sees any reason for travel restrictions: “Covid-19 is present in all parts of the world.” And corona tests on air travelers showed that they pose no additional risk. For example, of 4.2 million passengers who arrived in Great Britain from February to the end of August, only 57,200 tested positive.

The IATA boss sharply attacked airports that wanted more money from the airlines after the pandemic. “Some of our so-called partners want to increase the fees in order to get the money that the airlines couldn’t spend on them during the crisis.” In total, the taxes have already been increased by 2.3 billion dollars this year. “That’s outrageous,” said Walsh. “That has to stop.” The next annual meeting was set for June 2022 in Shanghai.

The airport association ACI Europe reacted indignantly to the statements of IATA. The association announced that it had drawn a “distorted and incorrect picture” of the airport industry. Just like the airlines, the European airports suffered historical losses during this crisis, but were not supported to the same extent with state funds.


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