Global airlines warned that 25 million jobs across the world could be at risk from the coronavirus travel downturn and the industry's representative body said airline finances were so fragile they could not afford to refund customers.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has held a series of weekly news conferences, issuing increasingly desperate messages about the state of airline industry, and urging governments to help carriers.
Global air travel slumps by 70 percent
View of departures area at Hamad International airport in Doha, Qatar. (File photo Reuters)
Three months of severe travel restrictions plus lower traffic over 2020 could put 25 million jobs at risk, IATA warned, adding that about a third of 2.7 million direct jobs in the airline sector had either been lost or were furloughed.
Airlines are burning through their cash reserves as they try to stay afloat, IATA said, and providing refunds for cancelled flights, as rules in many parts of the world such as EU261 in the European Union, require them to do, was not possible. Consumer groups are angry at airlines for ignoring those rules and say hard-up passengers need the cash just as much as the airlines.
$35 billion of tickets due for refund[3/15 12:18 PM] Omar Elkatouri The History of Pandemics
Separately on Tuesday, an environmental group called Stay Grounded published an open letter signed by 250 environmental groups and charities from across Europe calling on governments to attach climate and labour conditions to any airline bailouts.
IATA has been asking governments for a reduction of charges and taxes to help its members, which represent 82% of global air traffic, survive, and for funds to help restart routes in future.
It said on Tuesday that European countries had agreed to defer air traffic control charges totalling some 1.1 billion euros ($1.2 billion) from February to May.