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Covid-19: IATA appeals to African govts to protect airlines

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has renewed its call for government relief measures as the impacts of the COVID-19…

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has renewed its call for government relief measures as the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis in Africa deepen.IATA on Thursday said that the region’s airlines could lose $6 billion of passenger revenue compared to 2019, adding that job losses in aviation and related industries could grow to 3.1 million.

According to IATA, full-year 2020 traffic is expected to plummet by 51percent compared to 2019, while Gross Domestic Product(GDP) supported by aviation in the region could fall by $28 billion from $56 billion.

These estimates are based on a scenario of severe travel restrictions lasting for three months, with a gradual lifting of restrictions in domestic markets, followed by regional and intercontinental.

To minimize the impact on jobs and the broader African economy it is vital that governments step up their efforts to aid the industry, IATA said in a statement issued in Nairobi.

“Airlines in Africa are struggling for survival. Air Mauritius has entered voluntary administration, South African Airways and SA Express are in business rescue, other distressed carriers have placed staff on unpaid leave or signaled their intention to cut jobs,” said Muhammad Al Bakri, IATA’s Regional Vice President for Africa and the Middle East.

“More airlines will follow if urgent financial relief is not provided. The economic damage of a crippled industry extends far beyond the sector itself.  Aviation in Africa supports 6.2 million jobs and $56 billion in GDP. Sector failure is not an option, more governments need to step up,” he added.

IATA is calling for a mixture of direct financial support, loan guarantees and support for the corporate bond market as well as tax relief.

IATA has also appealed to development banks and other sources of finance to support Africa’s air transport sectors which are now on the verge of collapse.

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