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Caribbean Airlines airplanes parked at Piarco International Airport.

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As he issued an urgent call to governments in Latin America and the Caribbean to help the aviation sector, the Vice President of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), argued that regional citizens must learn to live with the novel coronavirus.

In a regional conference call Peter Cerdá said: “While we understand the measures that governments have taken to protect their citizens during this public health crisis, we need to learn to live with COVID-19. We will need to co-exist with the virus until a vaccine is made available.”

During the conference call, Cerdá called on the governments in the region to provide the requested financial support to the airlines —now. He said: “The word ‘now’ is so urgent.”

According to Cerdá, the industry is operating on life support, but it cannot go on in the same manner for much longer.

Airlines in the region suspended operations since late March. The IATA VP noted they cannot afford to remain grounded for an additional month or two. If this happens, he explained that the grounding could be—permanent.

IATA recently released its financial outlook for the global air transport industry showing that airlines are expected to lose US $84.3 billion in 2020 for a net profit margin of—20.1 per cent. The organisation also revealed that revenues will fall by 50 per cent to US $419 billion from US $838 billion in 2019.

It added that in 2021, losses are expected to drop to US $15.8 billion as revenues rise to US $598 billion.

IATA also asserted that Latin American and Caribbean governments remain the least supportive of aviation, noting it is an industry that prior to COVID-19 contributed US$167 billion to their GDPs and supported 7.2 million jobs throughout the region.

The organisation’s forecasts currently show a drop of at least US$77 billion in air transport’s contribution to GDP, with more than 3.5 million jobs at risk.

Meanwhile, Cerdá said: “This is our last chance to survive this crisis. Time is against us and every day that goes by places more agony on an industry that is seeking clarity on timelines to restart operations. No sector has the liquidity to stay afloat during a four—or five-month standstill.”