African airlines forecast to lose $2b in 2020-IATA

**Five African countries account for 19% traffic in the continent

 

As a consequence of the pandemic and associated restrictions, African airlines are forecast to lose $2 billion in 2020.

Without urgent financial relief, the industry is at risk of collapse, putting about 3.3 million jobs and $33 billion in African GPD in jeopardy according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

To date, the governments of Sub-Saharan Africa Rwanda, Senegal, Côte D’Ivoire and Burkina Faso have pledged a total of $311 million in direct financial support to air transport.

The clearing house for over 280 global airlines disclosed that a further $30 billion has been promised by some governments, international finance bodies and other institutions including the African Development Bank, African Export Import Bank, African Union and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for air transport and tourism.

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However, much of the relief is yet to reach those in need due to institutional bureaucracy, complex application and creditworthiness processes, as well as cumbersome conditions to secure finance.

IATA’s Regional Vice President for Africa and the Middle East, Muhammad Albakri in a virtual press briefing today said over $30 billion in financial support had been pledged to aviation and tourism in Africa.

His words, “Some of this money has been allocated by governments, but far too little of it has reached its intended recipients.  Governments and lenders need to urgently un-choke the bottlenecks so that the money can flow quickly, otherwise it will be too late to prevent closures and job losses. There will be no point re-opening the borders and skies if there is no industry left to speak of that is capable of supporting trade and tourism, which are the key components of any thriving economy”.

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IATA’s Regional Vice President for Africa and the Middle East, Muhammad Albakri

He further stated that resuming aviation safely in Africa is essential to get the continent’s economies up and running.

With African governments tentatively planning and considering the resumption of regional and intercontinental scheduled passenger flights, IATA is advocating for the harmonized adoption of the ICAO Take-Off  guidance which outlines recommended bio-safety measures.

It includes adequate physical distancing, wearing face masks or coverings, enhanced sanitation and disinfection, health screening, contact tracing and the use of passenger health declaration forms.  It also calls for testing, where rapid and reliable testing is available.

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“To instill public confidence and avoid repeating the mistakes made after 9/11 – which created disjointed airport security measures – governments and local authorities must adopt ICAO’s biosafety measures in a harmonized fashion and implement them consistently and diligently.  This will also ensure that air travel is able to support the revival of economies without becoming a vector for spreading COVID-19,” said Albakri.

So far, Benin, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Senegal and Tanzania have allowed or announced the imminent resumption of scheduled international passenger flights.  Combined, they account for 19% of passenger traffic on the continent.

Wole Shadare