The African Airlines Association (AFRAA) has called on African governments to devise measures to enable them to drum support for the airlines, so that they may survive the COVID-19 outbreak that has resulted in a global decline of the aviation business.
These measures may include:
- Compensation of inevitable losses
- Alleviation of operating costs
- Subsidization of African airlines
International Air Transport Association (IATA) projects that the global air industry will make revenue losses between $63 billion and $113 billion in 2020 in the passenger sector. Just yesterday, the association reported that airlines worldwide might need up to $200 billion in state aid to remain afloat.
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Airlines are making losses due to huge schedule changes, travel restrictions, and cancellations. AFRAA strongly recommends that African airlines engage their stakeholders to develop a comprehensive, proactive response strategy that addresses the adverse impact of the COVID-19 on their business to ensure airlines recover effectively to support critical economic sectors.
Mr. Abderahmane Berthé, AFRAA Secretary-General
According to data from IATA, the aviation industry contributes an estimated $55.8 billion to Africa’s economy, contributing 2.6% to GDP and creating close to 6.2 million job opportunities.
The Defence Web notes that since the virus outbreak, international bookings in Africa dipped roughly 20% in March and April, with domestic bookings falling by about 15% in March and 25% in April. By 11th March 2020, airlines had lost $4.4 billion in revenue.
Estimates show that the ripple effect of the outbreak could result in a $125 million loss in base revenues, and over 36,800 both directly and indirectly job losses in Kenya alone.
National carrier Kenya Airways has announced plans to cut staff salaries from next month and the airline has already suspended 65 per cent of its flights. Its CEO Allan Kilavuka will take 80% pay cut while other senior executives will have their wages reduced by 75 per cent.
“Should this trend continue – and current indications show that it will – we will have to make the difficult decision to temporarily suspend our operations.” Kilavuka was quoted by Bloomberg.
Ethiopian Airlines, Africa’s largest and most profitable carrier, on Friday announced it had suspended flights to 39 countries. The airline flies to 105 destinations.
South African Airways (SAA) has also announced that it will immediately suspend all international operations until 31 May 2020 in response to a government travel ban aimed at stopping the transmission of the Covid-19.
Rwanda earlier in the week suspended all arriving and departing commercial passenger flights for 30 days, with effect from 20th March 2020, including it own national carrier, Rwandair.