The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), International Maritime Organization (IMO), and the World Health Organization (WHO), who joined the UNWTO for a virtual teleconference on March 20, are calling for urgent government action in light of the current situation.
Senior officials included ICAO Secretary General Dr Fang Liu and IMO Secretary General Kitack Lim.
From an overall standpoint, a key conclusion of the ministers and senior UN officials present was that calls would need to be made urgently to governments to take immediate actions, including through financial aid packages and incentives, to help the aviation and tourism sectors withstand current COVID-19 risks and impacts.
When outlining the status of the air industry, and summarising the actions taken to-date by ICAO, Dr. Liu underscored that even while the air transport sector can be vulnerable to many external factors beyond its control, COVID-19 was presenting states and operators with entirely new levels of systemic risk.
“We have confronted economic sustainability challenges in the past in terms of various financial crises, the 9/11 attacks, the Eyjafjallajokull volcano eruption, and indeed with earlier pandemics, but the COVID-19 consequences the air transport sector is confronted with today are truly unprecedented,” she commented.
She also stressed that commercial operators had “registered significant losses not only in specific areas of COVID-19 impact, but indeed globally given the realities of network interconnectivity and preventative actions now being carried to limit international mobility.”
The UN agencies present agreed that a wide-ranging coordination body be established to begin addressing the public-private response required to address these significant and sector-threatening consequences.
Photo: ICAO Secretary General Dr Fang Liu – © ICAO