IATA calls on Middle East governments to help airlines

Governments should consider providing support to airlines to help them manage the impact of the coronavirus, the airline body IATA has said. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 03 March 2020

IATA calls on Middle East governments to help airlines

ABU DHABI: Middle East governments should consider providing support to airlines to help them manage the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, which has led to a raft of flight cancelations, the industry’s largest global body said on Monday.

Global airlines have warned of the toll on their business as passenger numbers fall due to the outbreak that first emerged in China in late December and has since spread to more than 50 countries.

Airlines have stopped flights to Iran, where the virus is rapidly spreading, and Saudi Arabia has temporarily banned tourists from 25 countries that have recorded cases the virus.

“The region depends on air connectivity, and support from governments will really help the airlines to get through this difficult period,” the International Air Transport Association’s Vice President for Africa and the Middle East Muhammad Ali Albakri said.

Albakri said that IATA was not calling for state bailouts, but that governments could help airlines with their operating costs.

Governments control a number of costs incurred by airlines, such as taxes and landing and overflight fees.

Most Middle East airlines are state-owned. In the past major Gulf carriers have come under scrutiny over allegations they
unfairly benefited from state funds, a charge they deny.

Albakri said that he did not expect other jurisdictions to criticize support given to airlines due to the coronavirus.

Emirates, the Middle East’s biggest carrier, is asking its staff to take paid and unpaid leave to help it manage a “measurable slowdown” due to the virus.

Air ticket sales to, from, and within the Middle East are seen dropping over the next few weeks, and airlines in the region stand to lose about $100 million in revenue at this stage, AlBakri said.

Middle Eastern carriers, most of which are unprofitable, have stopped most flights to China and cut or reduced flights on other Asian routes.

“Significant additional revenue is at risk to the Middle East carriers if the travel restrictions spread further to the rear of Asia Pacific,” Albakri said.

Roughly 50 percent of all Middle East airline capacity is flown on services to and from Asia Pacific, he said, highlighting the considerable risk to their business. 


Emirates launches airbridge between Dubai, Lebanon emergency relief 

Updated 14 August 2020

Emirates launches airbridge between Dubai, Lebanon emergency relief 

  • Customers of Emirates will be able to donate cash or pledge their Skywards Miles to the airline for the aid
  • Emirates SkyCargo will also provide 20 percent reduction on air freight transportation charges for approved shipments

DUBAI: UAE national carrier Emirates SkyCargo plans to ramp up its freighter operations to Lebanon with 50 flights to deliver emergency relief in the wake of the Beirut port blast that killed nearly 200 people.
Customers of Emirates will be able to donate cash or pledge their Skywards Miles to the airline for the aid, state news agency WAM reported.
The Emirates Airline Foundation will coordinate shipments of urgent food, medical supplies with NGO partners to ensure donations directly help those affected on the ground.
Emirates SkyCargo will also provide 20 percent reduction on air freight transportation charges for approved shipments, underscoring its commitment to expedite emergency relief efforts to Beirut.
“Today, the world is banding together to stand in solidarity with Lebanon, providing urgent relief and immediate recovery support to those affected by this tragic disaster,” Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline & Group, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, said. 
“Emirates supports the UAE’s ongoing humanitarian efforts to support Lebanon and is committed to bolster its global emergency response to ensure that it can support organizations which provide urgent care, shelter, food and medical support to the Lebanese people,” he added. 
Emirates said that it had dispatched several charter flights carrying food, clothing and medical supplies donated by various grassroots organizations in the UAE to Lebanon.