DUBAI — As the coronavirus pandemic takes a heavy toll on human life across the world, it has also dealt an unprecedented blow to the global airline industry.
According to a report compiled and released by the International Air Transport Association on Tuesday, the airline industry is expected to post a loss of $39 billion during the second quarter this year as many airlines, even those with strong finances, are struggling to survive as the traffic and revenue have dropped by 70 percent.
A recovery for the global airline industry to pre-2019 levels is unlikely before the fourth quarter of this year or till 2021, said Brian Pearce, IATA’s Chief Economist.
“These are numbers beyond anything we have ever had in our industry,” said Alexandre de Juniac, Director General of IATA, which urged governments to speed up bailouts for airlines facing estimated full-year revenue losses of $252 billion.
Hit by the pandemic, American Airlines, the world’s biggest airline is seeking $12 billion in financial help from the US government to tide it over for the next six months.
Under the massive $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill passed by the US Congress last week, $50 billion was set aside for airlines with half given as grants.
The other half will be offered as loans in exchange for not furloughing employees until at least Sept. 30.
Another US airline, Delta, has also offered voluntary leave of absence, and carriers outside the US such as Singapore Airlines have unveiled plans to raise funds by tapping share and debt markets with the backing of sovereign investment fund Temasek Holdings.
Meanwhile, British airways, another big name in the airline industry, has suspended all flights from Gatwick, UK’s second-busiest, amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Also on Tuesday, Philippine Airlines and other domestic carriers sought help from the government, saying measures imposed globally to contain the coronavirus pandemic threaten their survival. — With input from agencies