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African airlines set to lose US$2bn in 2020, says IATA

As a consequence of the pandemic and associated restrictions, African airlines are forecast to lose US$2bn in 2020. (Image Source: Soumya Ranjan/

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is urging African governments to  unblock bottlenecks in financial relief as it is critical for survival of air transport in Africa

As a consequence of the pandemic and associated restrictions, African airlines are forecast to lose US$2bn in 2020. Without urgent financial relief, the industry is at risk of collapse, putting about 3.3mn jobs and US$33bn in African GPD in jeopardy. 

The governments of sub-Saharan Africa, Rwanda, Senegal, Côte D’Ivoire and Burkina Faso have pledged a total of US$311mn in direct financial support to air transport. A further US$bn has been promised by some governments, international finance bodies and other institutions including the African Development Bank (AfDB), African Export Import Bank, African Union and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for air transport and tourism. However, much of the relief is yet to reach those in need due to institutional bureaucracy, complex application and creditworthiness processes, as well as cumbersome conditions to secure finance. 

“Over US$30bn in financial support has been pledged to aviation and tourism in Africa. Governments and lenders need to urgently un-choke the bottlenecks so that the money can flow quickly, otherwise it will be too late to prevent closures and job losses. There will be no point re-opening the borders and skies if there is no industry left to speak of that is capable of supporting trade and tourism, which are the major components of any thriving economy,” said Muhammad Albakri, IATA’s regional vice-president for Africa and the Middle East.

Harmonising re-start measures

With African governments tentatively planning and considering the resumption of regional and intercontinental scheduled passenger flights, IATA is advocating for the harmonised adoption of the ICAO Take-off guidance which outlines recommended biosafety measures.  It includes adequate physical distancing, wearing face masks or coverings, enhanced sanitation and disinfection, health screening, contact tracing and the use of passenger health declaration forms

So far, Benin, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Senegal and Tanzania have allowed or announced the imminent resumption of scheduled international passenger flights. 

Air Transport is at the core of the travel and tourism value chain. Combined the sectors support the livelihood of 24.6mn people across the continent, contribute US$169bn to Africa’s economy and represent 7.1 per cent of the continent’s GDP.

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