UN chief calls for urgent action to sustain world’s aviation sector

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The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called upon countries to “act urgently” to sustain their air transport sectors from the challenges thrown up by the pandemic.

Guterres made the remarks on Monday as the agency commemorated the International Civil Aviation Day.

“Aviation is an important engine of our world, and will play a critical role in lifting the world to recovery from COVID-19.  Let us ensure it receives the support it needs to keep the world’s nations connected and united,” he said.

The world’s aviation sector has been hit hard by the pandemic, having gone through a lengthy period of low business as numerous countries banned non-essential foreign travel.

Even as countries started allowing air travel into their borders, passenger traffic remains low as many people still fear they could be exposing themselves to the virus by travelling.

According to the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), passenger seat capacity is down about 51 percent with economic losses of about $390 billion in 2020.

Guterres also took the opportunity to call for climate friendly policies in the aviation industry.

“Recovery from the pandemic is simultaneously an opportunity for climate action, including to make global aviation more resilient and sustainable as a key part of efforts to reach the goals of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change,” said Guterres.

He noted that aviation provided a means for people to discover the world and its cultures, connects societies through travel and trade, and advances access to food, education and healthcare

“These benefits are critical to every country’s attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” he said.

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