• James Brown

1.7 Million Middle East jobs will be lost due to COVID-19 and border closures, says a new report

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) warned that the damage being done to the Middle East aviation industry and on economies by the shutdown of air traffic owing to the COVID-19 pandemic has deepened. According to new data published today by the Air Transport Action Group of which IATA is a member:



  • 1.7 million Middle East jobs will be lost in aviation and industries supported by aviation in 2020. This is nearly half of the region’s 3.3 million aviation-related employment.

  • Three hundred twenty-three thousand jobs will be lost in aviation alone in 2020. This is about 46% of the region’s 595,000 aviation related jobs.

  • GDP supported by aviation in the region will fall by up to $105 billion. This is 49% below pre-COVID-19 levels.

“This latest research highlights the urgency of restarting aviation in the Middle East. Normally aviation contributes $213 billion to the region’s GDP. Closing borders has reduced this to $108 billion. That loss has severe consequences, not least of which is the loss of 1.7 million jobs. Governments in the Middle East must protect their citizens from COVID-19 while also protecting their livelihoods,” said Muhammad Albakri, IATA’s Regional Vice President for Africa and the Middle East.

Testing to Restart Aviation in the Middle East


To minimize the impact on jobs and the broader Middle East economy, accelerated recovery of air transport across the region is paramount. This can be achieved through COVID-19 testing as an alternative to restrictive quarantine measures.

Eleven countries in the Middle East have opened their borders to regional and international air travel. However, in nine of these countries, passengers are still subject to a mandatory quarantine. This effectively stops people from travelling. IATA is calling for the systematic testing of passengers before departure. This will enable governments to safely open borders without quarantine and better support recovery efforts.



“Quarantine measures are crippling the industry’s recovery and hampering its ability to support social and economic development. Testing for COVID-19 will enable the Middle East and the world to safely re-connect and recover,” said Albakri.

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