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Over 185,000 passenger flights cancelled since Jan-end due to Covid-19 – IATA

Over 185,000 passenger flights cancelled since Jan-end due to Covid-19 – IATA

Several countries have imposed restrictions on international air travel

The coronavirus outbreak has led to the cancellation of more than 185,000 passenger flights since the end of January, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has revealed.

Several countries have imposed restrictions on international air travel in a bid to curb the spread of Covid-19.

UAE airlines including Emirates, Etihad Airways and flydubai have cancelled several flights and reduced frequencies on many routes in line with government directives.

Read: Etihad suspends flights to Beirut, Istanbul as part of network changes due to virus

Flydubai suspends flights to India, Saudi, Bahrain among other countries

Other airlines have taken more drastic steps – Philippines carrier Cebu Pacific has cancelled all flights until the end of this month.

Earlier this month, IATA had forecast that global revenue losses for airlines’ passenger business could range between $63bn and $113bn due to the Covid-19 impact.

In a statement on Tuesday, the association also urged governments to take urgent measures to ensure that air cargo will continue to be available worldwide.

Since the crisis began, air cargo has delivered medicines, medical equipment (including spare parts/repair components), and supported global supply chains functioning for time-sensitive materials.

“This has been done through dedicated cargo freighter operations, utilisation of cargo capacity in passenger aircraft and with relief flights to affected areas,” a statement said.

Air cargo is also key in transporting food and other products purchased online in support of quarantine and social distancing policies implemented by states.

But the dramatic travel restrictions and collapse of passenger demand have severely limited cargo capacity.

“Over 185,000 passenger flights have been cancelled since the end of January in response to government travel restrictions. With this, vital cargo capacity has disappeared when it is most urgently needed in the fight against Covid-19,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO.

“The world’s fleet of freighter aircraft has been mobilised to make up this capacity shortfall. Governments must take urgent measures to ensure that vital supply lines remain open, efficient and effective,” he added.

Governments take the following actions, IATA recommended:

* Exclude air cargo operations from any Covid-19-related travel restrictions, to ensure medical products can be transported without disruption

* Ensure that standardised measures are in place so that air cargo can continue to move around the world with minimal disruptions

* Exempt air cargo crew members, who do not interact with the public, from 14-day quarantine requirements

* Support temporary traffic rights for cargo operations where restrictions may apply

* Remove economic impediments, such as overfly charges, parking fees, and slot restrictions to support air cargo operations

“Air cargo carriers are working closely with governments and health organisations around the world to safeguard public health while also keeping the global economy moving,” said de Juniac.

“Keeping cargo flowing will save lives,” he added.

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