KENYA – The African Airlines Association (AFRAA) has released an analysis that reveals a significant US$ 8.103 billion loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic by the airline industry in Africa for the year 2020. 

The analysis by the Association, which brings together 42 airline members from across the continent, showed that passenger revenues across Africa dropped by US$ 0.403 billion in Q1 2020, 13.8% below 2019 figures, before rising substantially in Q2 to US$ 2.74 billion, a 90.2% drop from 2019.

However it expects recovery to start from Q3 2020 with domestic operations, followed by regional and intercontinental flights, with an assumption that in Q3 about 40% of the operations will be back on stream, rising to 70% in Q4.

According to the report, on cargo operations, there is currently a shortage of cargo capacity in Africa arising from the carriage of medical equipment and essential goods, where it is assisting its members to adapt in a bid to keep supply chains operational across the continent.

 “The availability of liquidity is the main issue to be addressed for airlines to survive and restart their operations. Without it, airlines can simply not survive this pandemic long enough to restart their operations. AFRAA urges African governments to consider a bailout and stimulus package that compensates for the significant losses, reduces the burden of ongoing operating costs, and subsidizes the industry’s survival and recovery,” states AFRAA Secretary General, Abdérahmane Berthé.

He further called upon international financial institutions and development partners to support airlines in the continent with facilities that can help ensure the availability of much-needed credit and liquidity.

“There is also the need to ensure passenger confidence to resume air travel. Communication with passengers on the health and safety measures in place is crucial to reassure them of a safe and sterile travel experience with appropriate measures in place,” he added. 

AFRAA says that since the onset of the crisis, the Association has taken various initiatives to ensure the sector’s resilience to the pandemic and for post recovery efforts, including its recovery plan that defines a framework of various areas of intervention measures to be taken as part of urgent, immediate, and consistent actions for the survival and rebound of the industry.

It is also working closely with leading aviation industry organizations under the framework of the High Level Task Force that is undertaking various actions to ensure that the African civil aviation industry is well positioned on a strong trajectory for recovery during and post COVID-19. 

The analysis is the first in a series of studies that will be published by the Association examining the toll of the pandemic on Africa’s air transport sector, adds the Association.

With countries across Africa still putting in place restrictions to air travel, airlines across the continent have continued to suspend operations within and from out of the continent, following the government directives from late March 2020.

As the pandemic takes its toll across the World, Africa has been least impacted – but AFRAA notes that the course of the disease and the direction it will take in Africa is still not clear, even as airlines across the continent continue with preparations to commence flying at the earliest opportunity whenever restrictions are lifted.

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