The European Regions Airline Association (ERA) has joined Airlines for Europe (A4E) in sending an open letter to EU transport ministers outlining the measures that are urgently needed at a European level in light of the coronavirus outbreak and its effect on the aviation industry.

    Coronavirus (covid-19) will have a severe impact on Europe’s economy this year while also negatively impacting the financial health of Europe’s airlines, the trade bodies stated.

    Considering that, currently, cancellation numbers are higher than new bookings, and increasing travel bans have led to massive aircraft groundings, it is already clear that the impact will be substantial – with the likelihood of a large number of EU airlines experiencing a massive, short-term financial decline.

    In order to ensure the survival of airlines in Europe and to help drive the economic recovery of the industry once restrictions related to the virus are lifted, ERA said a comprehensive package of measures is urgently required.

    European airlines should call on EU governments to co-ordinate their response, preserving the European aviation single market and its benefits in the long run.

    European airlines urgently require clarity on the possible application of Regulation EU261/2004 in the present situation. As highlighted in this letter to EU Transport Ministers, wide-ranging cancellations are unavoidable and manifestly caused by circumstances beyond airlines’ control.

    An official declaration from transport ministers and/or National Enforcement Bodies (NEBs) should immediately advise that covid-19 constitutes “extraordinary circumstances” and hence does not give rise to compensation payments.

    Similarly, considering the numerous travel restrictions and grounding of fleets, the right to re-routing should be re-considered under the current circumstances.

    Furthermore, the ERA said European airlines urgently need – and will continue to require for a certain time – an EU-wide alleviation on crew training requirements.

    In this context, the ERA is calling for a co-ordinated European exemption (from EASA) in order to extend expiring licenses because of restrictions in training and/or training facilities.