AFRICA – Coronavirus disruption could cost African airlines US$40 million in revenue this year, the International Air Transport Association has revealed.

According to a report by Reuters, such a colossal loss would be a potentially devastating hit to often struggling airlines counting on lucrative Chinese routes to fund expansion.

IATA  had previously projected that African airlines would make a loss of around US$200 million this year, similar to 2019. The Corona virus just complicates issues for African airlines even further.

Airlines around the world have suspended or modified flights after the outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus, which began in mainland China late last year and has now spread to more than 60 countries around the world.

IATA projects the global hit to the aviation industry to be US$29 billion this year – a 4.7% industry-wide drop in revenue per passenger kilometer.

Tewolde GebreMariam, chief executive officer of Ethiopian Airlines, Africa’s largest carrier, told Reuters that the virus had slashed passenger demand by 20%.

Reuters reports that Ethiopian Airlines has faced criticism online for not cancelling flights to China like neighbors Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda.

Kenya has also halted direct flights from Italy’s northern cities of Verona and Milan, which usually head to the Kenyan coast. Northern Italy has seen Europe’s biggest cluster of coronavirus cases.

Senegal confirmed a second case of the coronavirus on Tuesday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in sub-Saharan Africa to three.

The virus, which emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December, is a coronavirus and belongs to the same family as the pathogen that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS.

The number of people worldwide who have been infected with the coronavirus has passed 90,000 with more than 3,000 losing their lives since the outbreak began in December.

The coronavirus outbreak has spread to 46 countries other than China — and now seems to be spreading faster outside China than inside.

South Korea, Italy and Iran are fighting the largest outbreaks outside China with South Korea handling the world’s second-largest outbreak, have exploded to more than 2,300.

Africa has however been fairly spared by the Virus with only 6 countries reporting confirmed Corona Virus cases. These countries are: Nigeria, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Senegal, and Egypt.

Although the WHO has advised countries against suspending flights, the restriction of travel although bad for the economy, may have played a role in containing the spread of the virus.