The International Air Transport Association (IATA) Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac shared his concerns about the state of flying in Africa at the 52nd AFRAA AGA this week.
He revealed that aviation numbers in Africa were “staggering”. He said traffic is down 89%, and revenue loses had expected to reach $6-billion. He urged governments on the continent to take action to improve the situation.
“The consequences of the breakdown in connectivity are severe. Five million African livelihoods are at risk, and aviation-supported GDP could fall by as much as $37-billion. That’s a 58% fall.
“We have a health crisis. And it is evolving into a jobs and economic disaster. Fixing it is beyond the scope of what the industry can do by itself. We need governments to act. And act fast to prevent a calamity,” he urged.
He believed that governments in Africa needed to address two priorities. He said they should unblock committed financial relief.
“Airlines will go bust without it. Already four African carriers have ceased operations and two are in administration. Without financial relief, many others will follow.
“Over US$31-billion in financial support has been pledged by African governments, international finance bodies and other institutions, including the African Development Bank, the African Union and the International Monetary Fund. Unfortunately, pledges do not pay the bills. And little of this funding has materialised.
“And let me emphasise that, while we are calling for relief for aviation, this is an investment in the future of the continent. It will need financially viable airlines to support the economic recovery from Covid-19,” he said.
The second priority, he revealed, is the safe reopening of borders using testing and not implementing any quarantines.
“People have not lost their desire to travel. Border closures and travel restrictions make it effectively impossible. Forty-four countries in Africa have opened their borders to regional and international air travel.
“In 20 of these countries, passengers are still subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine. Who would travel under such conditions?
“Systematic testing before departure provides a safe alternative to quarantine and a solution to stop the economic and social devastation being caused by Covid-19,” he explained.
De Juniac believes airlines will be back in the skies.
He said the resilience of the industry has been proven many times.
“We will rise again,” he said.