Europe's airlines expected to lose $76bn in passenger revenues in 2020
Europe’s airlines are expected to lose $76bn (£63bn) in passenger revenues over the course of 2020 because of travel bans combating the spread of the coronavirus outbreak, the industry body has warned.
The figures from the International Air Transport Association (Iata) suggest European airlines will bear a significant part of the global hit caused by the pandemic, which has resulted in an unprecedented decline in the number of passengers.
Iata has already warned it expects demand for passenger flights to fall by 38%, causing global revenues to fall by $252bn in 2020, almost halving the industry’s revenues compared with 2019.
Those estimates were based on three-month shutdowns across much of the world, with the lack of cashflow threatening the survival of airlines globally. The British airline Flybe, previously Europe’s largest regional carrier, collapsed at the start of the month as the coronavirus crisis caused a slump in bookings.
Rafael Schvartzman, Iata’s regional vice-president for Europe, said on Thursday that many airlines did not have enough cash to sustain them through more than two months of shutdowns.
The industry this week called for governments around the world to intervene with cash support – including cash injections, loans and tax reliefs – to stave off a “liquidity crisis”. Alexandre de Juniac, Iata’s chief executive, said that failure to do so could cause airlines to fail “en masse”.
US politicians have responded with a bailout for the industry expected to run to as much as $50bn in loans and cash support.
In the UK, the government has so far proven unwilling to give special assistance to the airline industry. The chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has pledged to pay 80% of the salaries of furloughed workers across the UK, but the government was thought to be against providing special support for airlines, some of which had boasted of strong balance sheets.
British Airways owner, International Airlines Group, this month said it had £8.9bn in cash and loan facilities available, while the budget carrier easyJet continued with a £171m dividend payout despite the crisis.
Environmental campaigners have also argued airlines should not be bailed out unless they have realistic plans to tackle the climate emergency.
Source: The Guardian