Coronavirus: Middle East airlines revenue losses ‘set to reach $19bn’

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The International Air Transport Association (IATA) strengthened its call for urgent action from governments to provide financial relief to airlines, as its latest scenario for estimated potential lost revenues in the Middle East as a result of the coronavirus rose to $19bn.

The figures provided by IATA on Thursday translate into a drop of industry revenues of 39 percent for the region compared to 2019, with around 800,000 jobs potentially at risk.

Among major carriers in the Middle East, Emirates, Flydubai and Saudia, Saudi Arabia’s state airline, have all suspended scheduled passenger flights. 

Israel’s El Al has slashed its flight schedule, while Turkish Airlines suspended all international flights on 27 March.

Some of the estimated impacts at national level include:

Saudi Arabia

Around 26.7 million fewer passengers resulting in a $5.61bn revenue loss, risking 217,570 jobs and $13.6 bn in contributions to the kingdom’s economy.

United Arab Emirates

At least 23.8 million fewer passengers resulting in a $5.36bn revenue loss, putting 287,863 jobs at risk and the loss of $17.7bn in contributions to the UAE’s economy.

Egypt

An estimated 9.5 million fewer passengers amounting to a $1.6bn revenue loss, risking almost 205,560 jobs and around $2.4bn in contributions to the Egyptian economy.

Qatar

Around 3.6 million fewer passengers equating to a $1.32bn revenue loss, putting 53,640 jobs in jeopardy and removing $2.1bn in contributions to Qatar’s economy.

Jordan

At least 2.8 million fewer passengers amounting to a $500m revenue loss, jeopardising 26,400 jobs and resulting in a $800m loss in contributions to Jordan’s economy.

‘The most difficult times imaginable’

In late March, IATA estimated lost revenue from the coronavirus would exceed $250bn worldwide in 2020.

Coronavirus: A breakdown of Middle East and North Africa airline operations

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It said the current crisis was far worse and more widespread than after 9/11, when US airlines lost approximately $19.6bn in revenue in 2001-2002.

After the attacks, the US government provided $15bn to airlines in compensation and loan guarantees.

“Airlines are desperately trying to survive in the most difficult times imaginable,” said Alexandre de Juniac, head of IATA. 

“We have the people and the experience to see this through. But, to be perfectly frank, we don’t have the money.”

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