The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is calling for aviation-specific financial relief measures from the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to address the severe impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the air transport sector. IATA estimates that revenues generated by airlines in the Saudi market will fall by $7.2 billion in 2020, 35 per cent below 2019 levels. That puts at risk nearly 287,500 Saudi jobs and $17.9 billion of Saudi’s GDP, which is generated by aviation directly and aviation-related tourism.
In response to the impact of COVID-19, the Saudi government has introduced broad economic relief measures in excess of $32 billion in financial support for the private sector. It has also provided support for air transport by suspending the airport slot use rules for the summer season and extending licenses and certifications for crew, trainers and examiners. We urge the government to build on this and implement specific financial relief measures for aviation to ensure that the sector will be capable of driving the recovery.
“Saudi Arabia has announced financial relief measures for sectors affected by COVID-19, but not specifically for aviation. Given the industry’s role in social and economic development as well as achieving the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, it is important the government prioritises aviation and provide urgent financial relief,” said Muhammad Albakri, IATA’s Regional Vice President for Africa and the Middle East.
“Without a viable air transport sector, we can expect a slow and painful economic recovery. Before the crisis, Saudi Arabia was moving at full speed and achieving tangible results in modernisation, infrastructure development and economic growth,” said Albakri.