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Pandemic Continues to Fuel More Pressure on African Airlines

Kenya Airways B7878 LHR William Derrickson (1)

A Kenya Airways 787-8 arriving at London Heathrow. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

The global aviation industry remains to be the worst-hit industry with the unprecedented pandemic continuing to bite out the world’s biggest economies which the industry plays an integral role.

COVID-19 has hit African airlines with the African Airlines Association (AFRAA) calling for collaborative efforts and the stakeholders developing an “all-inclusive proactive response strategy” to address the impact of the coronavirus.

Ethiopian Airlines

Africa’s most profitable airline, in an aim to reduce the spread of the infectious disease on Friday, March 20 slashed its flights to 30 countries, reducing its flight schedule by 25 percent.

The country’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed speaking in a televised message commented that the decision was reached in an attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Ethiopian Group CEO Tewolde GebreMariam also noted the airline has lost $190 million in revenues as a result of the impact created by COVID-19 so far.

With the looming pandemic setting its foot in the continent, the first shipment of fully loaded medical supplies donated by the Jack Ma Foundation to Africa was shipped on Ethiopian flight ET3751 using a Boeing 777F aircraft which arrived in Addis Ababa on Sunday, March 22 with supplies to be distributed to the 54 African countries.

South African Airways

The South African-flag carrier has taken a decision to suspend all of its international operations until May 31, 2020, with the country becoming the worst-hit nation by the pandemic in the continent.

The carrier, still under a business rescue plan, announced through a media statement that the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a “substantial decline in demand for air travel” and that it would only render services to its domestic and regional routes.

The high-risk areas listed in the travel ban included flights to Washington DC, New York (JFK), London (Heathrow) and Germany (Frankfurt). Additionally, flights to Australia (Perth) and Brazil (Sao Paulo) were also canceled despite not considered high-risk areas.

Kenya Airways

The Kenyan flag carrier announced on Sunday, March 22 the temporary cancellation of all of its international services with a government directive indicating the airline to cease all incoming and outgoing passenger traffic to the country.

According to Bloomberg, a memo to employees on Friday announced that CEO Allan Kilavuka would take an 80 percent pay-cut while the airline’s board salary would be reduced by 75 percent.

Senior management will work one paid week for every three weeks while lower-level employees will work two paid weeks for every two without salary.

The already cash strapped airline agreed to borrow $49.5 million from the state barely two months ago to keep itself afloat but will now look to carefully evaluate its options if it will come out of this pandemic “alive.”

Uganda Airlines

The East African carrier has suspended all of its scheduled operations effective Monday, March 23 in compliance with the international obligation in the global fight against coronavirus pandemic.

Passengers with valid tickets will have an option to rebook and fly at a later date when flights resume or request for a refund with waivers on fee changes on all its flight network.

Victor Shalton


  • Victor Shalton

    Born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya, Victor’s love for aviation goes way back to when he was 11-years-old. Living close to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, he developed a love for planes and he even recalls aspiring to be a future airline executive for Kenya Airways. He also has a passion in the arts and loves writing and had his own aviation blog prior to joining AirlineGeeks. He is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business administration at DeKUT and aspiring to make a career in a more aviation-related course.

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