African airlines struggle to stay afloat in the wake of Coronavirus epidemic, $400 million has gone up in smoke since February

A Rwandair commercial passenger jet is pictured in Blagnac near Toulouse, France, May 29, 2019.
  • African Airlines have lost $400m (£312m) since the outbreak of the coronavirus in China in February, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
  • Several African airlines such as South African Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Air Tanzania, Air Mauritius, EgyptAir, RwandAir and Kenya Airways have suspended flights to and from China.
  • As coronavirus continues to spread across the world, it means African airlines will soon find it hard to operate and resort to letting go hundreds of staff in a bid to stay afloat. 

The Coronavirus has hit the aviation industry hard and African airlines have not been spared and are on the receiving end.

African Airlines have lost $400m (£312m) since the outbreak of the coronavirus in China in February, according to the global airline industry body.

Vice-President of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Raphael Kuuchi, said the losses in the continent's aviation industry had so far come from suspended and cancelled flights on routes to China.

The preliminary estimates that IATA came up with indicates that African airlines risk losing about $400m on conservative estimates. This is just based on the impact of China,” Kuuchi told BBC Africa.

He added that the impact of the virus is bound to get worse for African airlines - which last year posted losses of $100m (£78m). IATA estimates in total airlines could lose revenue worth $30 billion this year due to the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak.

While the epidemic is not as widespread in Africa as in other continents, it has nevertheless led airlines like South African Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Air Tanzania, Air Mauritius, EgyptAir, RwandAir and Kenya Airways to suspend flights to and from China.

The continent’s largest airline, Ethiopian Airlines, is, however, still operating flights to and from five cities in China.

As coronavirus continues to spread across the world, it means African airlines will soon find it hard to operate and resort to letting go hundreds of staff in a bid to stay afloat.

So far, cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Nigeria and Senegal.

Meanwhile, IATA is calling for the rules governing use of airport slots to be suspended immediately and for the 2020 season, due to the impact of COVID-19 (the Coronavirus).

Around 43% of all passengers depart from over 200 slot coordinated airports worldwide. At present, the rules for slot allocation mean that airlines must operate at least 80% of their allocated slots under normal circumstances. Failure to comply with this means the airline loses its right to the slot the next equivalent season.

Watch this Coronavirus music video made by a Ghanaian doctor in China.

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