The Asia Pacific region boasts some of the most incredible destinations for tourists as well as usually thriving hubs of industry which have previously been meccas of corporate travel. But none of that matters when the world has closed its borders. For airlines, the picture is clear – if they aren’t flying, they are losing money.
But just how dire is the situation? Well, extremely dire, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents airline members across the globe and is responsible for assigning airline codes.
IATA has likened the situation to an “apocalypse” for airlines in APAC who are now fighting for survival without any indication of an end in sight.
Officials at the association have urged states across APAC to support airlines with financial help, or face the real prospect of airlines not being around to fly again when the green shoots of recovery do start to show.
Already, some governments in the region have stepped in to try to shore up the ailing industry. Singapore has put in place several measures, including a jobs support scheme which will pay employers in the aviation and hospitality industries 75% of the first $4,600 of their local employees wages.
Meanwhile, in Australia, the picture is mixed. While there is an aid package including waivers on fuel and security charges, the Victorian authorities have said they will not be propping up Virgin Australia, which has asked for help. The question of whether Australia can survive with one large monopoly carrier, Qantas, is now being asked. Interestingly, the situation has now resulted in a tug of war, with authorities in NSW and Brisbane both offering short term help in return for Virgin Australia moving its headquarters to their regions.
In New Zealand, the government has opened a loan facility for its national carrier.
Now, IATA is urging other countries across Asia Pacific to step up their own support for airlines. Addressing authorities in Thailand, Vietnam, India, Bangladesh, Japan, Korea, the Philippines and Malaysia, IATA’s director general Alexandre de Juniac said leaders had a narrow window of opportunity to step in to save their countries’ airlines.
“For airlines, it’s apocalyse now,” he said: “And there is a small and shrinking window for governments to provide a lifeline of financial support to prevent a liquidity crisis from shuttering the industry.”
IATA says more help is urgently needed if there are still to be airlines in operation to take us where we want to go when the Covid-19 crisis is finally over.