African airlines lose $6bn to COVID-19

African airlines may lose $6bn loss to the coronavirus disease, which has grounded economic activities since March when the dreaded pandemic peaked on the continent.

According to the International Air Transport Association, Nigeria leads in the loss risk with about N390bn (about $1bn) in revenue after seeing 4.7m fewer passengers.

IATA also reiterated that Nigeria faces about 125,400 jobs losses.

The Regional Vice President for Africa and the Middle East, IATA, Muhammad Al Bakri, in a statement on the organisation’s website, pointed out that IATA had appealed to development banks and other sources of finance to support Africa’s air transport sectors, which were on the verge of collapse.

He explained that airlines on the continent were struggling for survival, buttressing that Air Mauritius had entered voluntary administration while South African Airways and SA Express were in business rescue.

Bakri posited that other distressed carriers had placed staff on unpaid leave or signalled their intention to cut jobs, warning that more airlines would follow suit if urgent financial relief was not provided.

According to him, the economic damage of a crippled industry extends far beyond the sector itself, noting that aviation in Africa supports 6.2m jobs and $56bn in Gross Domestic Product.

Bakri said, “IATA is seeking the intervention of the Federal Government on relief measures for the continent’s carriers and that IATA expected revenue loss to the continent’s carriers was $2bn (about N800bn), which is more than the expectations at the beginning of the month.”

He noted that job losses in the aviation and related sectors could grow to 3.1m – half of the region’s 6.2m aviation-related employment.

The aforementioned could also lead to the loss of two million jobs in Africa, he added.

Bakri, however, hinted that the full-year 2020 traffic was expected to plummet by 51 per cent compared to 2019, stressing that the previous estimate was a fall of 32 per cent.

“The GDP being supported by the aviation sector in the region could fall by $28bn from $56bn compared to the previous estimate, which was $17.8bn.

“These estimates were based on a scenario of severe travel restrictions lasting for three months, with a gradual lifting of restrictions in domestic markets, followed by regional and intercontinental,” he said.

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