Unblocking financial relief bottlenecks critical for Africa’s air transport survival – IATA
As a consequence of the pandemic and associated restrictions, African airlines are forecast to lose US$2 billion in 2020. Without urgent financial relief, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) warns that the industry is at risk of collapse, putting about 3.3 million jobs and US$33 billion in African GDP in jeopardy.
To date, the governments of sub-Saharan Africa in Rwanda, Senegal, Côte D’Ivoire and Burkina Faso have pledged a total of US$311 million in direct financial support to air transport. A further US$30 billion has been promised by some governments, international finance bodies and other institutions including the African Development Bank, 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$30 billion in financial support has been pledged to aviation and tourism in Africa. Some of this money has been allocated by governments, but far too little of it has reached its intended recipients. Governments and lenders need to urgently unchoke 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 key components of any thriving economy,” said Muhammad Albakri, IATA’s Regional Vice President for Africa and the Middle East.
IATA has emphasised that resuming aviation safely in Africa is essential to get the continent’s economies up and running. With African governments tentatively planning and considering the resumption of regional and intercontinental scheduled passenger flights, IATA is advocating the harmonised adoption of the International Civil Aviation Authority (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. It also calls for testing, where rapid and reliable testing is available.
“To instill public confidence and avoid repeating the mistakes made after 9/11 – which created disjointed airport security measures – governments and local authorities must adopt ICAO’s biosafety measures in a harmonised fashion and implement them consistently and diligently. This will also ensure that air travel is able to support the revival of economies without becoming a vector for spreading Covid-19,” said Albakri.
So far, Benin, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Senegal and Tanzania have allowed or announced the imminent resumption of scheduled international passenger flights. Combined, they account for 19% of Africa’s passenger traffic.
Air Transport has been described as being at the core of the travel and tourism value chain. Combined the sectors support the livelihood of some 24.6 million Africans, contributes US$169 billion to Africa’s economy and represent 7.1% of the continent’s GDP.
“Containing the pandemic is the top priority. But without a lifeline of funding to keep the sector alive, and a roadmap to restart aviation safely as soon as possible, the economic devastation of Covid-19 could take Africa’s development back a decade or more. Aviation supports livelihoods, trade, education, good health and well-being, quality education, reduces hunger and poverty and ensures access to essential medical supplies and humanitarian aid, as proven throughout this crisis. Without an air transport industry, the people of Africa are at risk of not being able to realise their dreams and aspirations,” said Albakri.
2020-07-31 12:12:48 | 12 days ago