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Wed 13 May 2020 02:30 PM

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IATA calls for 'urgent' government aid to Saudi airlines

IATA said that it estimates that airline revenue in Saudi Arabia will plummet 35% below 2019 levels

IATA calls for 'urgent' government aid to Saudi airlines

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has called on the government of Saudi Arabia to provide aviation-specific relief measures to help mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the kingdom’s air transport sector.

In a statement on Tuesday, IATA said it estimates that revenue generated by airlines in the Saudi market will plummet 35 percent below 2019 levels, putting at risk 287,500 Saudi jobs and $17.9 billion of the kingdom’s GDP.

In response to the pandemic, the Saudi government has introduced economic relief measures worth $32 billion for the private sector. It has also provided support for air transport by suspending airport slut use rules for the summer, and extending licenses and certifications for crew, trainers and examiners.

“We urge the government to build on this and implement specific financial relief measures for aviation to ensure that the sector will be capable of driving the recovery,” the IATA statement said.

Measures recommended by IATA include direct financial support to passenger and cargo carriers, financial relief on airport and air traffic control (ATC) charges and taxes, and reduction, waivers or deferrals of government-imposed taxes and fees.

“Given the industry’s role in social and economic development as well as achieving the kingdom’s Vision 2030, it is important the government prioritises aviation and provide urgent financial relief,” said Muhammad Albakri, IATA’s regional vice president for Africa and the Middle East.

“Without a viable air transport sector, we can expect a slow and painful economic recovery,” Albakri added. “Before the crisis, Saudi Arabia was moving at full speed and achieving tangible results in modernisation, infrastructure development and economic growth. Fully supporting aviation now means a stronger recovery for the kingdom.”

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