By Francis Ogwo
The ravaging COVID-19 has cost African countries almost $55bn in travel and tourism revenues in three months, according to the African Union (AU).
AU’s Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, Amani Abou-Zeid, disclosed this on Thursday.
While speaking at a news conference, Abou-Zeid said the economic impact of lockdowns and closure of borders as a containment measure has dealt a devastating blow on the industry with aviation hit the most.
According to her, tourism and travel represented almost 10% of the gross domestic product (GDP) of Africa.
“We have 24 million African families whose livelihood is linked to travel and tourism,” Abou-Zeid said, adding that the downturn had come in a year when Africa was expected to see an increase in travel and air transport.
“The blow is very hard; between the economic losses and the job losses,” Abou-Zeid said. African airlines have seen a 95% drop in revenues, or about $8bn, along with other losses such as the deterioration of assets, she said.
“Some airlines in the continent will not make it post-COVID-19,” she said, adding that the blow came at a time when some airlines were in the early stages of development, while others, such as South African Airways, were in difficulties even before the pandemic.
Abou-Zeid also added that more resistant carriers such as Ethiopian Airlines were using the opportunity to acquire smaller struggling companies, but the outbreak had put a halt to the AU’s plan for a single African air transport market.
While speaking at the conference, the Regional Director for the International Civil Aviation Organization, Prosper Zo’o Minto’o, said African airlines would need an estimated $20bn to resume operations, adding that Ivory Coast’s national airline, Air Cote d’Ivoire, which restarted domestic flights on Friday, said it had received 14 billion CFA francs ($24 million) from the government to keep it afloat.
Several efforts, according to reports, are underway by brands towards recovery of lost fortunes. While many have adopted downsizing as a measure of cutting down cost, others have sought for Government support towards keeping them afloat.