Airlines in the Middle East predicted to lose $24 billion due to pandemic

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has predicted that airlines in the Middle East could lose up to $24 billion in revenues due to the suspension of flights as part of preventative measures to combat the coronavirus pandemic,Anadoluhas reported.

Muhammad Al-Bakri, IATA’s Regional Vice President for Africa and the Middle East, said on Thursday that the predicted losses exceed previous estimates of $7.2 billion announced in March.

Several airlines in the region have been forced to pay staff just 50 per cent of their salaries, while others have asked their teams to apply for open leave until the crisis ends.

Al-Bakri said the response of the Middle East governments has been below expectations. “We wanted greater intervention to protect airlines through financial relief packages,” he pointed out.

Warning that the region could lose nearly $66 billion of GDP due to the interruption of air traffic, he added that the resumption of air travel in the Middle East will be gradual. “There are consultations taking place with regional governments on how to resume aviation services.”

Major airlines in the Middle East have completely stopped their civil and commercial flights. Companies like Qatar Airways have converted their larger passenger aircraft for use as cargo planes for business with China.

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