Africa to lose $37bn in GDP to troubled aviation sector

IATA: Global airline traffic to fall by 66% in 2020
  • 4.5m jobs at risk due to COVID-19, travel restrictions

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The African economy is set to lose an estimated sum of $37 billion to dwindling traffic and travel restrictions bedeviling the aviation sector of the region.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) warned that the damage being done to the African aviation industry and on economies by the shutdown of air traffic owing to the COVID-19 pandemic has deepened.

According to new data published today (Thursday, October 1, 2020) by the Air Transport Action Group of which IATA is a member, about five million African jobs will be lost in aviation and industries supported by aviation in 2020.

According to the body, this is well over half of the region’s 7.7 million aviation-related employment.

The report stated that 172,00 jobs will be lost in aviation alone in 2020. This is about 40 per cent of the region’s 440,000 aviation.

In addition to the massive job loss, the gross domestic product (GDP) supported by aviation in the African region will fall by up to $37 billion. This is 58 per cent below pre COVID-19 levels, the report stated.

“The breakdown in air connectivity in Africa has severe social and economic consequences for millions. No income means the lack of a social safety net for many.

“Governments need to do all they can to reconnect the continent safely. Keeping borders closed, or imposing measures such as quarantines, that deter air travel, will result in many more livelihoods being lost and further economic shrinkage along with hardship and poverty,” said Muhammad Albakri, IATA’s regional vice president for Africa and the Middle East.

Testing to Restart Aviation in Africa

According to the report, to minimize the impact on jobs and the broader African economy, yearns for an accelerated recovery of air transport across the region.

This, it said, can be achieved through COVID-19 testing as an alternative to restrictive quarantine measures.

“Thirty-one countries in Africa are opening their borders to regional and international air travel. In 22 countries, however, passengers are still subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine.

“This effectively stops people from travelling. IATA is calling for the systematic testing of passengers before departure. This will enable governments to safely open borders without quarantine and better support recovery efforts.

“Quarantine measures are crippling the industry’s recovery and hampering its ability to support social and economic development. Testing for COVID-19 will enable Africa and the world to safely re-connect and recover,” said Albakri.