African Airlines to lose $8.2bn in 2021 over Covid-19 pandemic

African Airlines Association (AFRAA) has released a forecast of $8.2 billion revenue loss for carriers on the continent in 2021.

The loss, according to the continental body, is 47.2 percent of the full year revenue for carriers in 2019.

The report came just as AFRAA released updates for the eighth month of the year, indicating that air passenger traffic reached 46.8 percent compared to the same month in 2019 while capacity pegged at 54.6 percent. Last year, African airlines made a cumulative loss of $10.21billion, that is, 58.8 percent of 2019 revenue.

The poor revenue performance, the body said is predicated on the slow response to calls for support to African aviation and tourism sectors by governments and development financial institutions identified by experts as a major threat to the survival of the African aviation industry.

To reverse this trend, experts have called on governments on the continent to heed the calls by the African Union (AU), African Civil Aviation Commission and other organisations to provide financial relief and support to the industry players most impacted by COVID-19 to avoid the collapse of the industry.

According to the continental body, domestic markets across Africa recorded a slight reduction in passenger demand, although still outperforming intra-Africa and intercontinental traffic.

Domestic traffic for the month under review was 58.9 percent compared to 22.7 percent for intra-Africa and 18.4 percent for intercontinental.

On passenger capacity according to seats offered, domestic, intra-Africa and intercontinental accounted for 46.5 percent, 26.8 percent and 26.7 percent.

Investigations reveal that globally, the COVID-19 cases continue to rise despite the fact that 24.6 percent of the world’s population have been vaccinated.

In Africa, just about 1.85 percent of the population is fully vaccinated according to data available on the Africa Center for Disease Control website.

In Africa, the number of deaths continue to rise while vaccination is progressing at a snail pace, thus causing concerns among the travel, tourism and hospitality sectors on recovery. Worldwide, the numbers of infected cases reached 200 million of which seven million are in Africa.

The global recovery rate stands at 97.7 percent compared to 97.3 percent in Africa.

Re-start of operations on intercontinental routes by African airlines reached 77.8 percent last month, though frequency and capacity remained constrained.

This represents a month-on-month increase in intercontinental operations of 3.1 percent.

Airlines which added new intercontinental routes to their operations in August include: Ethiopian Airlines, Royal Air Maroc and Kenya Airways.

Meanwhile, EgyptAir, Ethiopian Airlines, Royal air Maroc and RwandAir now operate to about 90 percent of their pre-COVID intercontinental destinations.

Mauritius remains the most impacted intra-Africa air travel destination in spite of the resumption of international flights in July.

Abidjan and Dakar airports slightly exceeded their pre-COVID level of flight connectivity with other cities.

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