The airline sector with activity in Spain has 14,134 employees affected by a temporary dismissal, which still represents 80% of the workforce that took refuge under the ERTE umbrella during the first state of alarm, when the paralysis was total.
With this figure in hand, and an estimate of slow reactivation, the Air Lines Association (ALA) yesterday demanded the Government to extend the ERTE from May 31, the date on which the mechanism expires, to December 31. It would be, according to the president of the group, Javier Gándara, to support a recovery that could become evident as early as 2022.
The sector anticipates that this summer season could recover 58% of the flights operated between March 31 and October 31, 2019. The activity would reach 780,000 flights with origin or destination in Spain, which would imply an increase of 114 % compared to the summer season of the fateful 2020.
What ALA does not offer is an estimate of travelers in view of the fact that operations are being carried out with load factors below 60% and it is still too early to know how the planes will fare in the coming months: it has changed and travelers make their reservations very close to the departure date of the flights ”, Javier Gándara commented yesterday at a press conference.
The uncertainty about the maintenance, or not, of the restrictions to fly is the main barrier for the return of the clients. That and the price of PCR tests. For this reason, ALA demands the acceptance of cheap alternatives to the aforementioned test, such as the antigen test, and the opening to mobility with guarantees of health security.
The introduction of variables such as vaccination and the digital green certificate provide hope for the return of traffic. ALA supports the joint action of the EU Member States to coordinate de-escalation policies in the restrictions. However, the meeting with the media was used to demand that the Spanish Government pay maximum attention to the movements of countries that compete for tourism such as Greece.
From the point of view of the president of ALA, Spain must make a move before the introduction of the digital green certificate and create safe tourist corridors, while travelers with a vaccination certificate must be accepted, without imposing the mandatory negative PCR on them. Greece will accept vaccines without PCR from May 14, which has triggered the interest of American tourists in this alternative market to the Spanish one.
According to the association that encompasses airports, ACI, the pandemic has left 8,500 routes inactive across Europe, of which 2,000 have disappeared in the first quarter of this year. Summer will be key for a certain recovery of the same, so ALA urges the aforementioned measures to support safe mobility.
Any estimate for the summer must still be taken with a grain of salt, warn from ALA. The behavior of supply and demand during the winter season was far from expectations. Where a 75% recovery was expected, only 35% was achieved between new waves of the pandemic and restrictions on mobility.
Passenger traffic figures in the last six months, from October 2020 to March 2021 included, fell 83% compared to the equivalent period prior to the pandemic.