COVID-19 is set to cause the biggest slump in the aviation industry since the 2008 financial crisis.
In Europe, airlines are calling on the EU to relax its approach to the scheduling of flights.
“The rule now is that airlines have to continuously use the slots they’re allocated, and if they don’t for whatever reason then they might lose out on certain slots. What we’re asking is a wavier on that rule given the fact that we have to cancel so many flights at the moment because of the coronavirus,” Thomas Reynaert, Managing Director of Airlines for Europe explains.
Last week the International Air Transport Association said that instead of passenger numbers growing by 4.1 per cent they would drop by 4.8 per cent for the year. There are concerns it could wipe over 26 billion euros from the value of the global business.
Unions are worried about how this will affect people who work in the transport industry.
“There is a growing number of self-employed workers so if they are not entitled to sick leave they will probably be more reluctant to go off sick so this is dangerous for them and it’s a general danger as well,” says Livia Spera, General Secretary of the European Transport Workers’ Federation.
This could all lead into a negative domino effect on Europe’s tourism sector according to some European politicians.
István Ujhelyi, a Hungarian MEP who sits on the European parliament’s Transport committee, says there are two million fewer tourists in Europe the last 2 months
“And then we didn’t add how many millions of people are cancelling their trips because of the crisis in Italy. How many airlines will go bankrupt, how many small and medium-sized businesses, hotels, restaurants will go bankrupt?” he went on.
British Airways, Ryanair and others have cancelled hundreds of flights this week emulating moves made by their Asian and American competitors.
Getting some semblance of control over the outbreak is going to prove crucial for the aviation industry over the coming months.