Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Two Transport Groups from Opposite Sides of the Fence Agree on Fighting the Effects of the Virus

Millions of Air Freight and Passenger Industry Jobs Threatened - and Many More Besides
Shipping News Feature

SWITZERLAND – UK – WORLDWIDE – Crises often have the effect of pulling those generally considered as opponents together as they share a common cause. But whether it be an offer of assistance by Britain to the USSR in 1941 to fight fascism, or two such diverse bodies as the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) in London and the Geneva based International Air Transport Association (IATA) battling to save an industry threatened by a pandemic, the result is the same.

Both organisations have the common goal of protecting jobs and maintaining air transport services and have now issued a mutual statement in the face of a crisis which sees passenger demand down by 80%, and in a slump that directly threatens all airlines with a never before seen liquidity crisis, threatening the viability of 25 million jobs directly and indirectly which are dependent upon aviation, including jobs in the tourism and hospitality sectors.

IATA represents those airlines responsible for carrying 82% of the world’s air traffic whilst the ITF has the interests of 20 million workers in 150 countries in its care, and the two have issued a joint statement calling for governments to:

  • Ensure that the protection of health workers caring for those with Covid-19 is prioritised
  • Coordinate carefully between each other and with industry to ensure harmonised and effective action to protect the safety of passengers and crew
  • Provide immediate financial and regulatory support for airlines, in order to maintain the sustainability of terms and conditions for air transport workers
  • Assist the industry to restart quickly by adapting regulations and lifting travel restrictions in a predictable and efficient manner

Leading figures in both organisations spoke as one when dealing with the matter, Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO saying:

“Airlines are facing the most critical period in the history of commercial aviation. Some governments have stepped in to help, and we thank them. But much, much more is needed. Direct financial support is essential to maintain jobs and ensure airlines can remain viable businesses.

”And, when the world is ready to start travelling again, the global economy will need aviation at its best to help restore connectivity, tourism and global supply chains. That will require a harmonised approach with industry, workers and governments working together.”

Both outfits also noted the aviation industry’s contribution to helping alleviate the coronavirus crisis by keeping supply chains open, and repatriating citizens. Aviation professionals are also volunteering on the front line to assist medical services in the fight against Covid-19 and ITF General Secretary Stephen Cotton added:

“IATA and ITF have a shared goal to ensure a sustainable future for the aviation industry. In order to achieve this, we need urgent action now. It is crucial that governments understand the importance of the aviation industry in rebuilding the global economy and support the industry.

”Bold decisions are required to invest in the future of airlines and protect the jobs and livelihoods of the transport workers who will lead the economic recovery when Covid-19 has been contained. Workers and the industry have joined forces, we invite more governments to join us in a coordinated approach to keep the industry and its essential supply chains moving.”

Photo: Courtesy of the International Churchill Society. Despite his hatred of Communism and Stalin’s intention to subsume the whole of Western Europe, Churchill made the offer of assistance in order to defeat a common enemy.