As Brian has shown, the near-term industry outlook has actually gotten darker, something I would not have believed possible just a few months ago.
In normal times, the peak summer travel season provides airlines with a cash cushion to help weather the slower autumn and winter seasons. But this year the industry is heading into the slow season in the worst financial position in its history
This highlights two points:
- This is no time for governments to walk away. The industry is grateful to those governments that have already provided support, but new job-saving measures are needed--including financial measures that do not add to overstressed balance sheets.
- The second point is that for the good of aviation and the global economy we need to reopen borders and remove travel killing quarantines. The ability to travel is absolutely central to doing business in our highly integrated global economy; and globalization has lifted more than a billion people from poverty since 1990.
Yesterday the World Bank issued a report for East Asia and the Pacific that puts this in sharp focus. It estimates that there will be 33 and 38 million more people living in poverty in that region alone, this year than in their pre-COVID scenario. And job losses in transport and hospitality industries are among the most affected in that region.
There is much to be gained by re-opening borders. And every day that we delay in re-connecting the world people are getting poorer and tens of millions of jobs that depend on aviation are at risk of going away.
We addressed the need to re-open borders last week when we talked about systematic pre-departure testing.
- This should give Governments the confidence they need to reopen borders.
- And it will give passenger’s added confidence that they won’t get infected while travelling.
We don’t underestimate the challenges of integrating systematic testing into the travel process.
- Finding sufficient fast, highly accurate, affordable and easy-to-use tests will not be easy. And, of course the priority will be on fulfilling medical needs before those required for travel.
- Governments and health authorities will need to agree on common standards so that tests administered in the departure country are accepted on arrival. This is on ICAO’s re-start agenda.
We are also seeing some progress with pre-departure testing being put in place on some routes and at some airports. Notably, in the past days we have seen announcements by airlines for testing Hawaii-bound travellers from continental US. These and other airline-led testing programs will give us valuable experience while the numbers of travellers are still low, so that we can be ready as demand ramps up.
And I will just repeat the findings from our passenger survey which shows overwhelming support for testing:
- 84% agreed that testing should be required of all travelers
- 88% agreed that they are willing to undergo testing as part of the travel process
A further result reveals that 61% of those surveyed in the 11 markets covered believed that COVID-19 is sufficiently controlled in their country to enable borders to re-open. We are ready to work with governments worldwide to make this happen. Establishing systematic pre-departure testing is the key to unlocking global connectivity, stimulating battered economies, and giving hope to the 10% of the global workforce whose livelihoods depend on travel and tourism.
Media Briefing Recording: Listen to the teleconference (mp3)