May 6 2020  |  Partnerships, Collaborations & Acquisitions

IATA partners with organizations for global recommendations

By Jane Hobson

Nick Careen, Senior Vice President for Airport, Passenger, Cargo and Security at International Air Transport Association (IATA)

The opening discussion of last week’s online event broadcast FlightPlan, sponsored by Inmarsat and the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX), focused on the current impact of the pandemic on the global industry.

From Quebec, Canada, Nick Careen, Senior Vice President for Airport, Passenger, Cargo and Security at International Air Transport Association (IATA), shared how the organization is supporting the industry and what documentation and recommendations it will provide for airlines, governments and fellow organizations to help the industry prosper.

The state of the industry

Despite being brought to a grinding halt over a matter of weeks earlier in the year, IATA’s Nick Careen said this crisis, while unprecedented, stands as a hopeful reminder of all that the industry has overcome in the past.

“If there’s any industry in the world that knows how to deal with a crisis, it’s this one. There’s no shortage of crisis for this industry,” he said. “This industry will come out stronger in the end as long as we take a very disciplined approach to our restart.”

And that’s what IATA is striving to do. The organization has hosted regional summits around the world with organizations, governments and regulators to discuss the restart. It is collaborating with major associations and groups, such as APEX, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the medical advisor community, to create a universal and comprehensive document that can be used by all to get the industry moving again. Careen says it is close to coming up with the beginnings of what the document could look like.

But the task is made more difficult as the pandemic spreads unevenly. While some locations may be ready to begin operations in earnest, such as China, it remains impossible to say when other regions will be back to some version of its unique new normal.

Careen said IATA anticipates a primarily domestic restart for the industry followed by some transportation operations with locations that are considered low risk. The organization is working with governments, states and locations to create recommendations and procedures that align with this pace, eventually moving to penetrate point-to-point international traffic and then eventually back to full capacity.

And governments are contributing to domestic restarts in different ways. Some are providing wage subsidies, tax relief, direct contributions. But, as Careen put it, the biggest catalyst for getting civil aviation and the supporting companies back on track would be to start flying again – without relying on subsidies. But, he acknowledged, the subsidies are needed in order to recover with the least impact to the industry.

“For the general public, I think we need to illustrate that we have…the procedures in place to protect them, we have the procedures in place to protect our crews, we have contact tracing, we have medical certifications, we have temperature checks, we have all the right things in place to instill consumer confidence and start [building] this back together again. We will get there, the question is when,” he added.

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