The COVID-19 pandemic is causing more harm than previously expected to Africa’s aviation industry, according to new data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Data released last week show that job losses in aviation and related industries could total more than half of the 6.2 people working in those industries; the projection of 3.5 million job losses is up 400,000 from an earlier estimate, released in April.
Air traffic for the year in Africa is now forecast to drop about 80 million passenger journeys, or 54 percent, below 2019 levels, compared with April’s forecast, which was down 51 percent, and the region’s gross domestic product supported by aviation is expected to fall as much as $35 billion, compared with April’s estimate of $28 billion, IATA said.
“COVID-19 has devastated African economies and brought air connectivity across the continent to a virtual standstill,” Muhammad Al Bakri, IATA regional vice president for Africa and the Middle East, said. “Millions of jobs and livelihoods are at risk in family-run enterprises and large corporations along the entire travel and tourism value chain. For Africa’s economic recovery and future prosperity, it is essential to expedite the safe restart of the industry.”
To limit job losses and damage to the African economy, IATA said, “accelerated recovery of air transport across the continent is vital.”
IATA identified two priorities, including “harmonizing the restart of air transport” through the adoption of guidance developed by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Council’s Aviation Recovery Task Force.
“To avoid conflicting measures, disruptions and inefficiencies, all countries, including those in Africa, must apply these recommendations consistently and uniformly, without imposing unnecessary border constraints such as quarantines, which deter passengers and suppress the demand for air travel.”
IATA noted that ICAO has said Rwanda is among the first nations to have complied with the ICAO guidance.
IATA said its second priority calls for continued financial and regulatory support for the industry in the form of cash, credit, loans and discounts during the “restart and recovery period.”