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The recovery of commercial air transport

Dr. Alejandro Herrera, Director General of Instituto Dominicano de Aviación Civil (IDAC) analizes the COVID-19 pandemic effect on air transport and the road to recovery.

Dr. Alejandro Herrera, Director General of Instituto Dominicano de Aviación Civil (IDAC) analizes the COVID-19 pandemic effect on air transport and the road to recovery.

Dr Alejandro Herrera

After four months, nobody has a precise idea of ​​the dimensions of the cataclysm that represents the pandemic caused by the Covid-19. In the words of the Spanish journalist and sociologist Ignacio Ramonet: “The world economy is paralyzed by the first global quarantine in history. The economy of the entire planet has never been seen to slow down.”

One of the most pernicious effects that this pandemic will leave, after the unfortunate thousands of deaths it has caused worldwide, will be the millions of people who will unceremoniously cast out at different levels of poverty and extreme poverty, especially in Latin America, considered the most unequal region on the planet, where it is expected that this year alone, nearly 30 million people will fall into this painful condition.

On other hand, one of the sectors hardest hit by the closure of borders in the almost all countries in the world, is commercial transport, whose stoppage will also generate more poverty. Nearly 90% of the world fleet, estimated at approximately 25,000 aircraft, has been grounded, putting at risk a high percentage of the 25 million people (of whom 2.9 million are Latinas) whose wages depend of the civil aviation industry.

It is not just that the pandemic has caused the start of an “unprecedented crisis”, unprecedented in the dynamic and demanding sector of civil aviation and air transport, which transported more than 4 billion passengers each year between the different points on the planet; rather, the global health phenomenon has placed this industry in a virtual state of global collapse. The size and effect generated almost 19 years ago by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 do not compare with the challenges that Covid-19 imposes on humanity today.

Furthermore, with factors that previously made business difficult, such as fierce and relentless competition between classic and other low-cost airlines; high fuel prices; tax obstacles in some cases; high operational costs, now with losses estimated in the billions of dollars; as well as the paralyzed operations, with no exact date to restart, will require many governments and financial institutions to develop ambitious rescue plans to avoid total or cascadinding bankruptcy of major airlines in the world.

With tourism as a sister activity to aviation, also in the doldrums, it is hit hard by the effects of a virus that has forced people to seclude themselves in their homes. As a declared enemy of travel and tourism, the two sectors must unite, with the understanding that one depends on the other, when initiating recovery plans that allow them to return to being generators of wealth for our countries.

Leading entities in the aeronautical field such as the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), International Air Transport Association (IATA), International Airports Council (ACI), Latin American Civil Aviation Commission (LACAC), and the Central American Corporation for Air Navigation Services (COCESNA), aware of the crucial drama that the industry is experiencing, have initiated virtual meetings with the aeronautical authorities of the different countries, aimed at exploring all the possibilities of a gradual restart to the extent that the sanitary circumstances of each nation allow the reopening of its air borders.

Without the existence of a vaccine against Covid-19, airlines based on the cooperation, coordination and leadership of ICAO and the World Health Organization (WHO), must agree on biosecurity standards as key to start restoring confidence to the public, and that travelors gain confidence that they will not be infected. In the meantime, some airlines have unilaterally decided, the mandatory use of gloves, masks and rapid tests before boarding, among other preventive measures.

The modern world and the commercial dynamics cannot be conceived without the airplane as the quintessential means of transport for people and cargo, so its recovery is a priority, and must be the result of another great effort by all parties involved in the system, including predominantly national governments, and their aeronautical and health authorities.

This article was first published by Listin Diario

About Wayne Farley

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