The International Air Transport Association (IATA), Airports Council International- Africa (ACI Africa) and the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Regional Offices for African States are united in their call to governments in Africa to rapidly implement ICAO’s global guidelines for restoring air connectivity to ensure the safe and harmonised restart of aviation in the region.
These guidelines are contained in Takeoff: Guidance for Air Travel through the COVID-19 Public Health Crisis, which was approved by the ICAO Council. They have also been adopted into the African Union’s Restart and Recovery Strategies during and after COVID-19 for the African Aviation Sector.
“Developed based on the latest medical evidence and consistent with health best practices the ICAO Take-off guidance provides governments with a framework for restarting aviation while protecting public health. Governments in Africa are encouraged to implement the guidance urgently and in a harmonised and mutually recognised way to allow aviation to safely start contributing to Africa’s economic recovery post COVID-19. Air connectivity is critical to economic and sustainable development in and across the continent,” said Barry Kashambo, Regional Director, ESAF speaking on behalf of the ICAO Regional Offices accredited to African States.
“ICAO’s Take-off guidance is a global way forward for aviation. Implementation should give governments the confidence to open borders without quarantine, and passengers the confidence to fly. But guidelines mean nothing if they are not implemented. And that is our main message to governments in Africa. Deviations from the guidance and mandatory approaches, especially on quarantine and social distancing, will damage public confidence, make it harder to operate effectively, slow down the industry restart and increase the economic pressures already created by COVID-19. This would be harmful to public health and the economic recovery,” said Muhammad Albakri, IATA’s Regional Vice President for Africa and the Middle East.
“Safety and security remain the industry’s main priority, and both are firmly entrenched into every airport’s operations and corporate culture. Building on this track record, the ICAO Take-off guidance is fully aligned with our industry’s focus on passenger and staff wellbeing. We therefore urge African States to urgently adopt these guidelines so that we can ensure the implementation of consistent, harmonized and effective measures across the region, a prerequisite for passengers to return to air travel in all confidence, and for the swift restoration of air connectivity for the sustainable recovery of the travel, business and tourism sectors on the continent,” said Ali Tounsi Secretary General, ACI Africa.
Effect of COVID-19 on Aviation in Africa
COVID-19 has crippled the air transport industry in Africa. Demand is forecast to fall by 58.5% in 2020 year-on-year – the largest drop of all the regions. Airlines in the region are expected to post a net loss of $2 billion this year as passenger revenues decline by over $6 billion compared to the previous year. Concurrently, African airports are expected to lose 51% of their revenues in 2020, i.e., around $2.2 billion. Job losses in aviation and related industries in the region could reach 3.1 million and GDP supported by aviation could fall by $28 billion. Before the COVID-19 crisis, aviation supported 6.2 million jobs in the region and generated $55.8 billion in GDP.