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The Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO) has asked the authorities to safeguard air navigation service providers (ANSPs) from economic collapse amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The air traffic management industry has been under severe pressure due to the global reduction in passenger traffic caused by Covid-19-related travel restrictions and other factors.

CANSO director general Simon Hocquard said: “The current crisis has unfortunately hit our airline customers hard, but airlines deferring payment or not paying at all for air navigation services is absolutely not the solution.

“We need to make sure we do not create long term damage to the aviation system and avoid one company’s solution being another’s problem. Unlike the airlines, we cannot suspend operations and lay off a large proportion of our staff.

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“We have to continue to keep our operations running safely, to keep our sectors manned in order to ensure the safe transit of aircraft, including cargo flights delivering vital medical supplies and food.”

Hocquard added that airspace cannot be closed as flights still need to be managed even if they are at a lower level.

To keep their employees safe and healthy, CANSO stated that some of the ANSPs have implemented operational measures to aid the industry, including the removal of constraints to reduce the routes and increase flight efficiency.

Providers have also deployed measures to reduce costs. However, reduction in revenue could decrease the ability to smoothly and safely control traffic when the volumes increase in the future.

Hocquard added: “Air traffic management is a critical part of our national infrastructures and we must protect it. That starts by making sure we do not cut off the essential revenue stream that enables them to provide a vital and safe service today and, in the future.”

CANSO has asked the national decision makers to implement financial support for the ANSPs, airlines, airports and other stakeholders, which will help in the stability and resilience of the industry.

Last week, Airports Council International (ACI) World called on a global policy response to aid the airport industry in the wake of the pandemic.