• July 9th, 2020

Coronavirus wreaks havoc on global economy as airlines suffer

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread across the world and has now killed more people than SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), the disease is wreaking havoc on the Chinese economy and is severely disrupting global supply chains. This in turn, say economist, is having a measurable impact on global trade, specifically tourism, which is a mainstay of many African economies.   

In a statement released last week, the World Bank said it is reviewing financial and technical resources that can be mobilised quickly to support affected countries and assist the life-saving work underway to stop the transmission and mitigate the impact of this virus.

“We are also monitoring the wider economic and social impacts of this crisis. We support China’s efforts to respond including its efforts to maintain resilience in its economy. We recognise that it is the poorest countries and most vulnerable populations that are often hardest hit by global disruptions like these. The World Bank Group stands ready to support all our client countries, especially the poorest and most vulnerable, to help manage the widening impact to their people of this crisis,” read the World Bank’s statement. The World Bank has not ruled out a recession in China due to the virus outbreak. If so, this would have a knock-on effect to most global economies and could severely impact global growth figures. 

Currently, the aviation industry, whose global mobility assists in the spread of the virus, is one of the hardest hit by the outbreak that originated in China. The last major virus outbreak, SARS, wiped out approximately US$10 billion in revenue for global airlines. As global airlines have suspended flights to China and have implemented severe restrictions on Chinese travellers and those who have been recently been to the Asian giant, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said it has a global framework to help contain outbreaks, which include International Health Regulations (IHR), built under the leadership of the World Health Organization (WHO). “We have also defined industry standards to keep our passengers and crew safe and healthy. This includes guidance for crew, front line, cleaning and maintenance staff, among others. And these are endorsed by WHO, and in some cases included, in the IHR,” explained IATA’s Director General and CEO, Alexandre de Juniac.  The IATA chief noted that the effectiveness of aviation’s response is assisted by several factors, including advanced air filtering systems on aircraft, communicating good hygiene practices to passengers, as well as various thermal and manual screening measures at strategic airports to keep potentially infected passengers off airplanes.

“The WHO’s recent declaration that we are in a Public Health Emergency of International Concern is part of the IHR plan. It did not mean the people’s individual safety had taken a turn for the worse. Rather it indicated that the scale of the situation requires governments to cooperate to contain and hopefully eliminate the virus,” said De Juniac at a recent aviation summit in Qatar.

He added that the next few months will be challenging for the air transport industry and for governments. “Together we will get through the virus outbreak. And together we will continue to build the global standards and regulations that will enable this industry—the business of freedom—well into the future,” De Juniac concluded. 

Meanwhile, the Namibia Airports Company (NAC) has also confirmed that it has commenced with temperature screening at Hosea Kutako International Airport. The NAC is part of the country’s National Preventative Committee and facilitates screening processes at the airport level to remain alert and responsive to the growing global challenge as the coronavirus continues to spread. 

According to NAC spokesperson, Dan Kamati, the institution has also conducted an awareness campaign amongst its staff at the various airports around the country. Other ports of entry, such as Eros Airport, Walvis Bay Airport and the seaports of Walvis Bay and Lüderitz are reportedly being monitored by the health ministry. 

The national airline, Air Namibia Air Namibia also noted that it continues to monitor the developments regarding the coronavirus in liaison with the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MoHSS).  
“Air Namibia, being a major player in the service industry, would hereby like to assure our customers that we are complying with all safety measures put in place at all our destinations (departing and arriving airports). We have created awareness within the organisation on how our ground staff and crew can handle the situation. Preventative and control measures are strengthened at all levels of our operation,” read a statement from Air Namibia. 

Meanwhile, major international airlines such Air Canada, American Airlines, British Airways, Delta, Lufthansa and Qatar Airways have already suspended all flights to and from mainland China until the end of February or longer. This action is expected to have serious revenue implications for most of the world’s airlines.  In addition, a growing number of countries, including the United States, Australia, New Zealand and South Korea, have barred entry to all foreigners who have travelled to mainland China, with Italy and Israel stopping all incoming air traffic from the country. Many more countries have told their citizens not to travel to mainland China. Beijing officials on Sunday confirmed that the outbreak has nearly wiped out all inbound travel to China’s capital city. 
– ebrandt@nepc.com.na

Edgar Brandt
2020-02-11 07:22:31 | 4 months ago

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