Coronavirus: Airlines groan under refund requirements – IATA

March 17, 2020
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China Southern Airlines

Airlines are no longer able to comply with current rules on refunds for cancelled or late flights as the coronavirus pandemic hits the aviation industry.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said this on Tuesday in Geneva.

“We are asking to soften passenger regulations, IATA chief Alexandre de Juniac said at the industry group’s offices.

“These rules are too tough in these extraordinary times,’’ he added.

Three-quarters of the world’s airlines have less than three months of cash to pay for their fixed costs such as loan interest, according to IATA.

The group that represents more than 80 per cent of global air traffic estimated last week that airlines will lose 113 billion dollars in revenues this year, but IATA economists are working on a new forecast that takes into account the latest U.S entry bans.

The Airline, however, called on governments to come to the rescue with all possible means to aid the aviation sector during the coronavirus crisis.

On Tuesday, Australian flagship carrier Qantas and its budget airline Jet star said they will cut their international flights by 90 per cent until at least the end of May due to a drop in demand for travel amid the global coronavirus crisis.

The reduction largely reflects the demand impact of severe quarantine requirements on people’s ability to travel overseas, Qantas said in a statement.

Some 60 per cent of domestic flights will also be slashed.

The move will see around 150 aircraft grounded. The decision by Qantas came after several global airlines, including Lufthansa, Air France-KLM, and British Airways, announced huge reductions in their flight numbers due to plummeting demand over the coronavirus.

European aircraft manufacturer Airbus said that it is pausing manufacturing at its sites in France and Spain for four days to implement anti-viral measures.

“This will allow sufficient time to implement stringent health and safety conditions in terms of hygiene, cleaning and self-distancing while improving the efficiency of operations under the new working conditions,’’ Airbus said in a statement.

Across the Atlantic, Airbus rival Boeing is facing new struggles in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, according to U.S media.

A Wall Street Journal report on Monday said health authorities will need to decide whether production can go ahead at the U.S aircraft giant after a number of employees became infected with the virus.

According to an internal document, 11 employees tested positive for the virus and another 339 employees are in quarantine with suspected coronavirus, the paper said.

Another 87 employees were in quarantine, but have already returned to work, it said.

According to a Bloomberg report on Monday, Boeing is seeking U.S aid and support for itself, its suppliers and some airlines due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Additionally, the company has been hit by the grounding of its best-selling 737 MAX that is waiting for clearance to resume services after two deadly crashes.

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