How to reboot the airline industry post-Covid-19

Published: 8 April 2020 - 5 a.m.

Aviation markets around the world must plan carefully and coordinate when setting up new processes in the aftermath of the Covid-19 crisis, industry leaders have said.

Alexandre de Juniac, CEO for the International Air Transport Association (IATA), warned against repeating mistakes made after 9/11 when ‘many new processes were imposed in an uncoordinated way’.

“We have never shuttered the industry on this scale before,” he said. “Consequently, we have no experience in starting it up. It will be complicated.”

“At the practical level, we will need contingencies for licenses and certifications that have expired. We will have to adapt operations and processes to avoid reinfections via imported cases.

“And we must find a predictable and efficient approach to managing travel restrictions which need to be lifted before we can get back to work. These are just some of the major tasks that are ahead of us. And to be successful, industry and government must be aligned and working together.”

IATA is assessing how best to re-boot the industry when governments and public health authorities allow.

A multi-stakeholder approach will be essential, the group notes.

One initial step is a series of virtual meetings—or summits—on a regional basis, bringing together governments and industry stakeholders.

The main objectives will be understanding what is needed to re-open closed borders and agreeing solutions that can be operationalised and scaled efficiently.

De Juniac said: “We are not expecting to re-start the same industry that we closed a few weeks ago.

“Airlines will still connect the world. And we will do that through a variety of business models. But the industry processes will need to adapt. We must get on with this work quickly.”

He added: “We don’t want to repeat the mistakes made after 9/11 when many new processes were imposed in an uncoordinated way. We ended up with a mess of measures that we are still sorting out today.

“The 25 million people whose jobs are at risk by this crisis will depend on an efficient re-start of the industry.”

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