Aviation industry disruption from COVID-19 could result in a loss of six million passengers and US$1.2bn loss in base revenues in South Africa. The disruption to air travel could also put at risk over 102 000 jobs in the country.

“This is consistent with the 'Extensive Spread' Scenario we published on March 5,” confirmed International Air Transport Association (Iata) regional VP Africa, Middle East, Muhammad Al Bakri, in an online press conference held earlier today.

He said Iata was appealing to governments in Africa – as part of a worldwide campaign – to provide emergency support to airlines as they fought for survival due to the evaporation of air travel demand as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

“Airlines are fighting for survival. Many routes have been suspended in Africa and Middle East and airlines have seen demand fall by as much as 60% on remaining ones. Millions of jobs are at stake. Airlines need urgent government action if they are to emerge from this in a fit state to help the world recover,” said Alexandre de Juniac, Iata dg and ceo.

On a global basis, Iata estimates that emergency aid of up to US$200bn (R3,43trn) is required. Africa’s air transport industry’s economic contribution is currently estimated at US$55,8bn (R958bn) supporting 6,2 million jobs and contributing 2,6% to GDP.

 

According to Al Bakri, since the end of January, thousands of passenger flights have been cancelled in Africa. “This is expected to increase exponentially with the implementation of additional measures in different countries.”

 

As at March 11, African airlines have lost US$4,4bn (R75,6bn) in revenue, and ticket refunds have increased by 75% in 2020 compared with the same period in 2019 (February1-March 11).

 

Iata has asked all governments to consider direct financial support to carriers to compensate for reduced revenues and liquidity attributable to travel restrictions imposed as a result of COVID-19.

The association has also appealed to governments to issue an immediate temporary waiver of ticket taxes and other government-imposed levies.

Other countries impacted:

  • Kenya: The disruption from COVID-19 could result in a 622 000 loss of passenger volumes and US$125m (R2,15bn) loss in base revenues in Kenya. The disruption to air travel could also put at risk over 36 800 jobs in the country. If the situation spreads further, approximately 1,6 million passengers and US$320m (R5,51bn) in revenues could be lost.

 

  • Ethiopia:  Losses from COVID-19 could result in a 479 000 loss in passenger volumes and a US$79m (R1,36bn) loss in base revenues in Ethiopia. The disruption to air travel could also put at risk over 98 400 jobs in the country. If the situation spreads further, approximately 1,2 million passengers and US$202m (R3,48bn) in revenues could be lost.

 

  • Rwanda: There could be up to 79 000 loss in passenger volumes and US$20,4m (R352m) loss in base revenues in Rwanda. The disruption to air travel could also put at risk about 3 000 jobs in the country. If the situation spreads further, approximately 201 000 passengers and US$52m (R899m) in revenues could be lost.