More than six million jobs will be lost in aviation and industries supported by aviation in the Middle East and Africa in 2020, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has warned.
IATA said that the damage being done to the Middle East and Africa aviation industry and on economies by the shutdown of air traffic owing to the Covid-19 pandemic has deepened.
1.7 million Middle East jobs will be lost in aviation and industries supported by aviation in 2020, said IATA. This is nearly half of the region’s 3.3 million aviation-related employment. IATA said 4.5 million African jobs will be lost in aviation and industries supported by aviation in 2020. This is well over half of the region’s 7.7 million aviation-related employment.
In the Middle East, 323,000 jobs could be lost in aviation alone in 2020. This is about 46% of the region’s 595,000 aviation¹ related jobs. In Africa, 172,000 jobs could be lost in aviation alone this year. This is about 40% of the region’s 440,000 aviation jobs.
“This latest research highlights the urgency of restarting aviation in the Middle East,” said Muhammad Albakri, IATA’s regional VP for Africa and the Middle East. “Normally aviation contributes $213 billion to the region’s GDP. Closing borders has reduced this to $108 billion. That loss has severe consequences, not least of which is the loss of 1.7 million jobs.”
Albakri said that governments in the Middle East must protect their citizens from Covid-19 while also protecting their livelihoods.
To minimise the impact on jobs and the broader Middle East economy, an accelerated recovery of air transport across the region is paramount, IATA said. The group said this can be achieved through Covid-19 testing as an alternative to restrictive quarantine measures.
Eleven countries in the Middle East have opened their borders to regional and international air travel. However, in nine of these countries, passengers are still subject to a mandatory quarantine. IATA is calling for the systematic testing of passengers before departure. This will enable governments to safely open borders without quarantine and better support recovery efforts, the group said.
“Quarantine measures are crippling the industry’s recovery and hampering its ability to support social and economic development,” said Albakri.