Airline association Iata has urged Europe’s governments to coordinate the lifting of travel restrictions and find alternatives to quarantine as the aviation industry continues to haemorrhage cash.

Iata reports airline operations in Europe remain more than 50% below the level of summer 2019 despite an increase flights.

It forecast full-year passenger numbers would be 60% down year on year in 2020 – a fall of 705 million.

The association warned the outlook remains “highly uncertain” with passenger demand forecast only to recover to the level of 2019 by 2024 and “more than seven million jobs supported by aviation now at risk”.

Iata regional vice-president for Europe Rafael Schvartzman described the situation as “desperately worrying as border restrictions and quarantine continue”.

He said: “It is vital governments and industry work together to create a harmonised plan for reopening.”

Schvartzman urged governments to “look at a coordinated way to lift travel restrictions” and called for “the layering of measures as an alternative to quarantine”.

Iata wants to see “universal implementation of International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) biosafety measures, comprehensive contract tracing and testing regimes”.

It said aid for the industry is now “desperately needed”.

Schvartzman said: “Financial support, in forms which do not further load crippling debts on to the industry, will be necessary if an even sharper contraction is to be avoided.”

He added: “Regulatory assistance is vital. It is crucial the EC issue an unambiguous statement on their intention to provide a full winter-season slot-use waiver immediately.”

Schvartzman described it as “baffling the Commission continues to sit on its hands” with the situation becoming each day “more critical”.

Iata now estimates the UK will see a year-on-year shortfall of 165 million air passengers in 2020, at a cost of $59 billion to GDP and putting 780,000 jobs at risk.

It estimates Spain will see 133 million fewer passengers, with more than one million jobs at risk, at a cost of $69 billion to the Spanish economy.

Germany could see 118 million fewer passengers and 550,000 jobs in jeopardy, with a hit to GDP of $39 billion.

The impact on French GDP could amount to $41 billion as France sees 118 million fewer passengers, putting 466,000 jobs at risk – and Italy could suffer a $25 billion loss of GDP owing to a 98 million decline in passenger numbers, threatening 369,000 jobs.

Iata insisted: “The risk of transmission on board [aircraft] remains low. Out of 20 million cases of Covid-19 worldwide, there are less than 50 known cases of transmission on board.”