Qatar Airways plays key role providing lifeline to many during Covid-19 pandemic: IATA chief
November 13 2021 07:14 PM
IATA director general Willie Walsh at the 54th AGM of Arab Air Carriers Organisation (AACO) in Doha
IATA director general Willie Walsh at the 54th AGM of Arab Air Carriers Organisation (AACO) in Doha recently. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam

Qatar Airways played a key role providing lifeline to many during the pandemic, delivering vaccines, PPE, medical equipment and even e-commerce, according to IATA director general Willie Walsh.
“Qatar Airways and the region’s other carriers – Emirates and Etihad played a critical role in this mammoth task by keeping flying throughout the crisis,” Walsh said while addressing the 54th AGM of Arab Air Carriers Organisation (AACO) in Doha recently.
“For the airlines based in this region we are estimating a cumulative loss of $6.8bn for this year, with an improvement to $4.6bn in losses for next year. We are, however, past the worst point. And we can see a path towards normality. The cargo business is already operating at 9% above pre-crisis levels, and in the Middle East 18%.”
He said it was no secret that Covid-19 devastated the aviation industry. In 2020, airlines globally lost $138bn. Losses will drop to $52bn this year.
“And we expect a further reduction to a $12bn loss in 2022. Add that up, and the toll that Covid-19 will take on industry finances tops $201bn,” the IATA chief said.
Walsh noted where governments have not restricted travel; the passenger business recovery has been swift. Domestic markets are expected to reach nearly 75% of pre-crisis levels by the end of this year, but unfortunately international travel — where travel restrictions are continuing — is only expected to reach 22%. “Next year we expect domestic markets to be nearly where they were in 2019. But international travel will lag at just 44%. We are moving in the right direction, if not as fast as we would like to go. The task ahead is formidable. But the overall mood in the industry is one of cautious optimism. And the re-opening of the US market to some 33 countries — primarily European — gives the recovery important momentum,” he said.
Walsh also said the Middle East region has done a lot of work to re-establish connectivity. Today, most of the GCC and wider Middle East region have re-established links to their primary markets.
Caps on flight movements have been lifted and the UAE, Jordan, Bahrain, Oman, and Saudi Arabia have re-instated services to over 70% of their pre-pandemic networks.
Connectivity in the region in September reached 49% of pre-crisis levels, outperforming global connectivity which has rebounded to 41% of pre-crisis levels. And with Thailand, Australia and United States opening from early November, this should further help strengthen connectivity, he noted.



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