The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), International Maritime Organization, World Health Organization, and UN World Tourism Organization led calls to governments to take immediate actions—including through financial aid packages and incentives—to help the aviation and tourism sectors withstand current COVID-19 risks and impacts.
The joint call was issued together with tourism ministers and various industry bodies including Airports Council International and International Air Transport Association, as the groups underlined the unprecedented COVID-19 consequences that confront the air transport sector.
ICAO Secretary General Dr. Fang Liu underscored that COVID-19 is presenting states and air transport operators with entirely new levels of systemic risk beyond those posed by various financial crises, the 9/11 attacks, the Eyjafjallajökull volcano eruption and even earlier pandemics.
“The COVID-19 consequences the air transport sector is confronted with today are truly unprecedented,” she said.
She also stressed that commercial operators had “registered significant losses not only in specific areas of COVID-19 impact, but indeed globally given the realities of network interconnectivity and preventative actions now being carried to limit international mobility.”
Liu also highlighted that while key economic sectors such as tourism are being more seriously impacted, cascading impacts were being felt throughout civil societies as other types of essential supplies and goods vanish from shelves as more and more international trade is curtailed.
“All of these effects deplete the society-wide sustainability benefits which air transport is relied on for, especially in developing States,” she noted.
“ICAO urges our Member States to implement public health related regulations and guidance. We also have a leading role to play in the ICAO Collaborative Arrangement for the Prevention and Management of Public Health Events in Civil Aviation (CAPSCA) programme,” she said.
Liu added that “without reliable, affordable air services, and harmonized aviation and tourism policies, the benefits of aviation and tourism simply cannot be realized.”
“All industry stakeholders agreed that global connectivity by air is facing dire and possibly critical risks due to the threats to the economic sustainability of operators being posed by COVID-19 response protocols worldwide,” she further said.
The UN agencies also agreed that a wide ranging coordination body be established to begin addressing the public-private response required to address these significant and sector-threatening consequences.
Photo courtesy of ICAO