Saudi Arabia foreign ministry has announced on March 14 that the kingdom's government has decided to suspend all international flights for 14 days starting from March 15.
Amid the unprecedented outbreak of deadly coronavirus, governments around the world have decided to halt international flights in order to contain the spread which has already reached more than 140 countries. This announcement of Saudi Arabia came just a week after an industry body warned that the airline industry could lose up to USD 113 billion in revenue in 2020 due to the impact of COVID-19 outbreak.
Precautionary Health Measures |— Foreign Ministry 🇸🇦 (@KSAmofaEN) March 14, 2020
- @MOISaudiArabia: The Kingdom’s government decided to suspend international flights for two weeks [Starting from Sunday March 15th] as part of its efforts to prevent the spread of #CoronaVirus
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has estimated the revenue losses to airlines' passenger business of between USD 63 billion and USD 113 billion with the higher figure for a scenario where the COVID-19 spreads more widely around the globe.
IATA said that a more intense prediction would amount to 19 per cent loss in worldwide passenger revenues. It also added the cost of COVID-19 spread worldwide would be equivalent to what the industry experienced in the “global financial crisis”. It was comparatively a more bare assessment than what it released two weeks ago when it said that the revenue losses would come in at USD 29.3 billion. However, since then, the virus which had originated in China in late December has spread rapidly in other countries.
More than 145,963 people have been infected with the fatal virus worldwide and more than 5,440 people have died. After a meeting in Singapore, IATA head Alexandre de Juniac had said that all events in relation to the virus outbreak have been unprecedented and he called the turn of events as “dramatic” and that it is “for worse” of the industry. According to the official statement, Juniac also noted that many countries have cancelled flights and are reducing their capacity while taking emergency measures to reduce costs.
IATA head said, “The turn of events as a result of COVID-19 is almost without precedent. In little over two months, the industry's prospects in much of the world have taken a dramatic turn for the worse."
“Many airlines are cutting capacity and taking emergency measures to reduce costs. Governments must take note. Airlines are doing their best to stay afloat as they perform the vital task of linking the world’s economies, “ he added.