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A South African A340 (Photo: AirlineGeeks | James Dinsdale)

IATA: More Clarity on Government Relief Measures Amid COVID-19 in Africa

International Air Transport Association (IATA) has renewed its call to nations in the continent to step up their efforts towards aviation relief for airlines to aid in the survival of the industry, even as COVID-19 impacts continue to consume the region’s aviation sector which is now on the verge of collapse.

This comes barely a week after Air Mauritius entered into voluntary administration while its African counterpart, South African Airways continues to fight for its survival.

“Airlines in Africa are struggling for survival. Air Mauritius has entered voluntary administration, South African Airways and South African Express are in business rescue, other distressed carriers have placed staff on unpaid leave or signaled their intentions to cut jobs. More airlines will follow if urgent financial relief is not provided. The economic damage of a crippled industry extends far beyond the industry itself,” said Muhammad Al Bakri, IATA’s Regional Vice President for Africa and Middle East.

IATA estimates that the airlines in the region could lose up to $6 billion of passenger revenue which is $2 billion more of what was expected at the beginning of the month with job losses expected to grow to 3.1 million which is half of the continent’s 6.2 million aviation-related employment.

IATA continues to estimate that aviation in the continent supports a GDP of $56 billion, this could deeply plunge to $28 billion while full-year 2020 traffic could plummet by 51 percent compared to 2019.

With the few operating airlines in the continent now turning to cargo airlines overnight, the industry body wants more help from governments in a mixture of direct financial support, loans, loan guarantees and tax relief.

In addition to the vital financial relief, IATA also sees the importance of ‘careful planning and coordination to ensure the airlines are ready when the pandemic is contained,’ with a comprehensive approach to restarting the industry when its safe.

“As the governments struggle to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, an economic catastrophe has unfolded. Re-starting aviation and opening borders will be critical to the eventual economic recovery… But starting up will be complicated. We need to make sure that the system is ready, have a clear vision of what is needed for a safe travel experience, establish confidence and find ways to restore demand. Cooperation and harmonization across borders will be essential to restart aviation,” said Al Bakri.

Victor Shalton
Victor Shalton
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