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A Kenya Airways Boeing 787-8 at Schiphol Airport. The airline is increasing its international flight schedule as Kenya has relaxed travel restrictions. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | James Dinsdale)

COVID-19 Continues to Alter Growth for African Airlines

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has reported a gloomy-looking revenue loss of approximately $113 billion caused by the spreading virus that has so far affected air travel in more than 80 countries. Airlines directly associated with China are expected to record a combined $29.3 billion in lost revenue, 21 percent far much greater than the SARS crisis of 2003.

Airlines are now reducing costs and taking emergency precautions in a bid to stay afloat while trying to link the world’s economies, with IATA’s Director General Alexandre de Juniac calling for consideration in tax relief, charges and slot allocation. “These are extraordinary times,” said the Director-General.

According to IATA’s special envoy to Africa, Raphael Kuuchi commented at Aviation Africa summit in Addis-Ababa, that Africa would receive a $40 million hit that would potentially devastate struggling airlines that serve the lucrative Chinese routes.

Passenger demand has reduced dramatically across the continent which seems to be a big shock with key airlines canceling flights to China despite it being their important route. Only Ethiopian is maintaining a reduced number of flights to China. Kenya Airways has halted flights to Italy’s northern cities of Milan and Verona.

According to IATA, The industry in Africa made a $200 million loss last year with this year’s financials expected to drop further due to the biting COVID-19.

African aviation is still in its infancy and still faces some challenges. The looming spread of COVID-19 comes as a major blow to the airlines in the continent that attempts to find their rhythm in the industry. The industry can play an integral role in the continent’s economy from job creation and increasing connectivity to Africa.

Victor Shalton
Victor Shalton
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