The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said on Thursday that Middle East airlines are facing a liquidity crisis and hundreds of thousands of jobs are at risk because of the Coronavirus outbreak, urging governments to provide state aid.
Many airlines warn they may not survive the crisis, as the epidemic has killed more than 8,000 globally.
IATA Africa Middle East Vice President Muhammad Ali Albakri warned that even the most drastic cost cuts were being outstripped by plummeting revenue.
“We are struggling, suffering, and bleeding,” he told reporters on a conference call.
He said more than 800,000 jobs were directly at risk across 10 Middle East and North Africa countries including the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Morocco.
The epidemic has cost Middle East airlines $7.2 billion in revenue as of March 11 with 16,000 flights cancelled since January, according to industry’s largest body.
“Airlines are facing a liquidity crisis,” Albakri said.