As the world struggles with the tragic and unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) latest projection has predicted that 2020 passenger revenues could fall $252 billion, or 44 percent from last year’s level, assuming severe travel restrictions remain in place for up to three months and are followed by a gradual economic recovery later this year.
In a presentation made by the FlightSafety Foundation on the ongoing spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr Harold Demuren,the President of the Foundation while declaring that those in the aviation sector were seeing a previously unimaginable impact on the sector, said the prediction became obvious in the face of the drop in operations with fleet of aircraft grounded.
His words: “As been well documented, passenger operations have been slashed, fleets of aircraft have been grounded, and thousands of employees have been furloughed. But, at the same time, the global aviation system is still functioning. Air traffic control towers and en route centres continue to guide aircraft to their destinations; airports are open and operating, albeit at much reduced capacity; and pilots and flight attendants continue to operate airplanes that maintenance engineers have ensured are airworthy.
“In the midst of crisis, safety must still prevail. It is essential to maintain high safety performance in continuing operations, in reduced operations and, hopefully sooner rather than later, in increasing operations as carriers begin bringing aircraft and service back online.”
Flight Safety Foundation developed this document as supplement material for safety and aviation professionals in flight operations, air traffic services, airports, ground operations and maintenance, as well as for regulators and manufacturers as they navigate the current environment and, eventually a safe, harmonised and sustainable return to global air transportation.
According to Demuren,; “What follows are condensed safety-related considerations that serve as a roadmap for professionals in different segments of the aviation ecosystem and can inform and guide decisions under difficult circumstances. In developing this document, the Foundation has tapped into the considerable expertise of our advisory committees and other experts, many of whom offered input based on what they are seeing right now on a day-to-day basis and what they believe is necessary to maintain safe operations during this crisis.
“This document should be viewed as a “work in progress,” as the Foundation continues to enhance and expand it, moving forward. We will solicit inputs from the safety and operations communities to inform changes and future versions. In addition, the Foundation has several related projects under way, including work to collect and organise the various detailed recommendations and specific COVID-19 procedural steps that are being implemented around the world; a webinar series, Managing the COVID-19 Crisis; and the revamping of our previously scheduled conference events into virtual events focused on pandemic-related issues.”
The coronavirus pandemic Demuren maintained is having “a devastating effect on aviation and represents the biggest strategic shock to the global aviation system since international air travel began. Whereas we need to acknowledge that the crisis is first and foremost a human tragedy, and everyone’s first priority is to ensure their own family’s safety, we also need to understand that our world as we know it will not be the same even after the virus is contained.
“Flight Safety Foundation’s mission is to connect, influence and lead global aviation safety. Never has there been such a critical time to bring together the world’s aviation community for the protection of our people and our operations.”
Through its independence, impartiality and international community, the Foundation is in a unique position to assist with safe navigation through these exceptional times. Together we must establish a broad industry set of guidelines of “good things to do” in an increasingly fragmented and complex situation, recognising that financial pressures will be acute and that there are no limits to the benefits of sharing information and learning.
While citing how some airlines have been shutting down their operations with others continuing to run on reduced schedules, Demuren added how cargo operations, air traffic control, airport and ground services now become critical elements in society’s efforts to overcome the crisis even as some routes and services are already reopening.
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