IATA Expert Suggests Caribbean Governments to Cut Down on Passenger Taxes
Describing travel as being in a “free fall” and the airline industry as being “bare bones” due to the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19), the trade association for the world’s airlines is advising Caribbean governments to cut passenger taxes if they wish to be competitive when service is restored, The Antigua Daily Observer reports.
Peter Cerda, the regional vice president for the Americas at the International Air Transport Association (IATA), says the state of the global airline sector, including carriers in the Caribbean, is “as bad as one could expect”, and they will need government support to resume any form of service.
Mr. Cerda, speaking on this week’s Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) podcast, COVID-19: The Unwanted Visitor, warns that the aviation sector will emerge from the crisis with fewer carriers offering leaner services to fewer routes and flying smaller aircraft. And “when it comes to the Caribbean, it won’t be the same market”.
Therefore, he says, “regional governments must prepare for this eventuality by taking the necessary steps to reduce the cost of air travel,” the local newspaper goes on to say.
The IATA executive predicts that in the early stages of the resumption of air travel the people who fly would rather remain close to home. He says the Caribbean’s proximity to the United States and Canada gives it an advantage in this case, but it can quickly lose this advantage if the countries fail to be prudent.
“Because of the financial crisis that will follow the apprehensions that the consumer has, if the Caribbean does not position itself – that it is competitive, it has a good level of service in terms of medical services, it has the right procedures being implemented – these passengers may decide to go somewhere else, somewhere else in Central America, Mexico or even see in the US,” Mr. Cerda says.
While predicting that international travel will return to the Caribbean by next month, Cerda says Caribbean economies could lose US$740 million and face 23,000 job cuts if borders remain closed through to the end of June. When all of travel and tourism is considered, he says, the cost to the region could reach US$6.5 billion, with over 350,000 jobs at risk.