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Guest column by Raúl Medina, DGAC

Raúl Medina

Raúl Medina

Dirección General de Aviación Civil / Director General

COVID-19 is the greatest air transport crisis in the sector’s recent history. This crisis is unprecedented, not only in magnitude but also in the speed with which it has unfolded. At the end of last year, the forecast for 2020 growth was 9.5 billion passengers worldwide[1], and in Spain, we faced our seventh consecutive year of growth. The pandemic has changed everything and left us with a scenario that will require much time and effort on the part of everyone in order for the sector to recover and for it to continue making an essential contribution to our economy.

Aviation is one of the bridges that unite our world. It will always find a way to continue playing an important role, as it has done for the past 100 years.

After the outbreak of the crisis, the Government has taken diverse measures to mitigate its effects. On one hand, we have taken measures aiming to guarantee the sustainability of airlines, the fundamental agents in the air transport value chain, so they could face a period in which their activity was almost entirely halted. On the other hand, we have taken actions designed to ensure minimum and stable air connectivity in our territory, which is highly dependent on air transport. These have been moments of great uncertainty, in which, if we have confirmed anything, it is that this sector is mature and capable of adapting to the severe restrictions that health-safety conditions have imposed upon all of us.

We are now doing our utmost to chart the course to recovery. This will be a long, complex process that will require the combined efforts of the Government and the sector, in very diverse areas, where regaining the trust of air transport users will be the key.  With the cross-border nature of this sector in mind, Spain’s active participation in international forums where air transport decisions are debated and coordinated will continue to be fundamental for speeding up the recovery process.

Air transport must demonstrate that it is safe from the health-safety point of view and that travelling by plane is once again part of daily life for many people. In this regard, we are committed to the homogenous application in Europe of joint guidelines, published by the European Union Agency for Aviation Safety (EASA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC)[2]. Our team actively participates in the workgroup that monitors the implementation (of these guidelines) because we believe they can be the central axis that recovering this trust pivots upon.

I am certain that our sector will be capable of reinventing itself once again and adapting to the new situation because it meets the basic human need to be in contact with others. Aviation is one of the bridges that unite our world. It will always find a way to continue playing an important role, as it has done for the past 100 years.

 

[1] Statistics from “Economic impact assessment of COVID 19 on the airport business” de ACI, 5 May 2020.

[2] Operational Guidelines for the management of air passengers and aviation personnel in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic

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