Airports around the world employ – either directly or indirectly – 6.1 million people which makes up 60% of all employment in the aviation sector, according to Airport Council International (ACI) World. But the livelihoods of these millions of employees is now seriously under threat as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Current estimates suggest airport industry losses of up to $70 billion compared to a project pre-COVID-19 baseline for 2020.
Subsequently ACI World is calling for measures to protect the livelihoods of these employees with Angela Gittens, ACI World’s Director General calling on States to “consider financial relief measures that will help to alleviate the significant drop in cash flows and to ensure operational and business continuity of airport activities, and to protect jobs.”
Gittens added: “The present crisis is leading toa domino effect and Tourism Economics, an Oxford Economics Company, estimates that the decline in international visitor spending in the US will tally 13 times the impact of SARS and nearly double the impact of 8/11.”
On behalf of airports globally, ACI is asking for measures to be considered that include the immediate provision of government assistance through grants and subsidies to support operating expenses and wages to airport staff. Other measures include: ensuring secured financing and loans at preferential rates and bank guarantees; the suspension of all national and local aviation taxes for 2020; and the waiving or postponement of airport rents and concession fees applicable to airport operators, irrespective of their ownership status.
ACI is also suggesting that its member States must also consider maintaining a minimum level of employment to allow continued operations and to preserve a rapid return to full operations. This would mean supported wage guarantees with regards to those still employed and bridge-in programmes for those temporarily laid off.