IATA points to deeper Covid-19 impacts on African aviation
The negative fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic on Africa’s aviation industry and economies has increased sharply since April, the international airlines lobby IATA says in a new assessment.
According to the new data, up to 3.5 million of the 6.2 million aviation and related industries jobs could be lost. That represents an additional 0.4 million potential job losses from the previous estimate in April.
“COVID-19 has devastated African economies and brought air connectivity across the continent to a virtual standstill. The economic consequences resulting from a disconnected continent are severe. 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,” Muhammad Al Bakri, IATA’s Regional Vice President for Africa and the Middle East said in reaction to the findings.
Full-year 2020 traffic is expected to fall by 54pc or more than 80 million passenger journeys over to 2019 against previous estimates of 51pc while aviation supported GDP is expected to fall by up to USD35 billion compared to previous estimates of USD28 billion.
IATA latest economic outlook for South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia sees steeper declines in passenger numbers and GDP impacts as well as more jobs at risk since the previous assessment in June. South Africa is now projected to lose a million more passengers than the minus15.6 million estimated in June. Nigeria’s passenger numbers will fall by a further 0.4 million to peak at 5.7 million, Kenya and Ethiopia will each see declines of 0.2 million more passengers to 4million and 2.8 million respectively while Rwanda will marginally lose another 30,000 passengers to reach a peak of 0.5 million.
At 287,700 and 223,600 respectively, South Africa and Kenya will bear the brunt of job losses. South Africa’s will shade USD 5.1 billion off its GDP, Ethiopia 2.1 billion, Kenya 1.8 billion, Nigeria 1.1 billion and Rwanda 0.7 billion.
IATA is advocating a speedy and coordinated resumption of air services across the continent, as well as continued government support to the industry to minimize job losses and mute the impact on the wider economy.
The lobby says harmonized adoption of the ICAO Council’s Aviation Recovery Task Force biosafety framework for the safe restart of aviation – is critical for the safe resumption of air transport.
“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,” Al Bakri says.
According to Barry Kashambo, the regional director at ICAO’s Nairobi based office for Eastern and Southern Africa, governments should make restarting aviation a priority.
“We recognize the efforts and actions by Rwanda and some other States, to fully implement the provisions of ICAO CART recommendations and Take-off guidance and measures. We encourage all Governments in Africa to prioritize the restart of aviation and to tap into its potential as an enabler to Africa’s economic recovery post COVID-19. Air connectivity is critical to economic and sustainable development and the movement of persons across the continent,” he said.
Equally, IATA is calling for direct cash injections, credit or loans and deferrals or discounts on user charges to support airlines over the restart and recovery period to save the industry from accumulating more debt.
“We are grateful to the few African governments that have provided relief to aviation so far – Rwanda, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso and recently Cabo Verde. Their actions have helped save thousands of jobs and will enable some airlines to restart and support the wider economies they serve. But the situation is worsening. Continued relief measures are essential to minimize job losses and ensure that connectivity can be restored. We urge African governments and the development institutions who have committed funding to provide it urgently in a structure that does not weaken already stressed airline balance sheets, before it is too late,” Albakri says.