The airline industry is “very, very likely” to have to ask governments for more financial support to survive through the coming winter season.
Iata director general and chief executive Alexandre de Juniac said that while governments had generally “done a good job” in backing their aviation sectors during the early days of the pandemic, more support was needed.
“The situation is so bad and uncertainty so high, it’s highly likely that the recovery will be bumpy,” said de Juniac during the online World Aviation Festival Virtual event.
“The longer the crisis lasts, the more support we need. We will probably ask for more support, as US carriers have done recently.
“We will have to do it probably – it’s very, very likely.”
Iata is pinning its hopes for a recovery in airline passengers this winter on the implementation of a worldwide rapid testing system for Covid-19 at airports.
The association called for this testing system to be introduced earlier this week, with international air traffic down by 92% year-on-year.
De Juniac said he hoped this system could begin being implemented and tested by the end of October.
Currently Iata is not predicting a return to 2019 passenger levels until late 2023 or early 2024.
But De Juniac said this recovery could happen “more quickly” if airport testing was introduced worldwide and ended the need for quarantine and other Covid-related restrictions.
He added he was “optimistic” that this could be achieved because the “testing industry is ready and governments are ready to listen and ready to implement to allow travel restrictions to be lifted”.
“We are discussing bilaterally with more than 20 states to convince them to implement or test that system,” he said.
De Juniac warned that without “restarting international travel very quickly”, the industry faced “more bankruptcies and significant shrinkage in the size of airlines”.