Home » Aviation: 2020 took a lot out of African Airlines as SAA, Kenya Airways and Royal Air Maroc restructure while Ethiopian grew Cargo

Aviation: 2020 took a lot out of African Airlines as SAA, Kenya Airways and Royal Air Maroc restructure while Ethiopian grew Cargo

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The impact of the coronavirus pandemic is still been felt across the aviation sector especially in Africa, with carriers in the continent restructuring to stay float operationally.

With the effect of the pandemic on airlines in the industry, carriers like South African Airways (SAA), which has been bleeding financially, and cash trapped Kenya Airways and North African carrier, Royal Air Maroc had to strategize to meet the challenges posed by the disease.

Despite the constraints of the pandemic, if any African airline is having a reasonable pandemic, it is Ethiopian Airlines.

Contrary to many of its regional and global counterparts, Ethiopian Airlines claims it has dealt with the crisis without reducing salaries or asking the government for a bailout. The airline grew its operations by building on its cargo fleet of 10 Boeing 777s and two Boeing 737s, it also converted 25 passenger aircraft into cargo planes.

According to eturbonews.com, in 2020, Africa’s airlines recorded a loss of 78 million passengers and 58 percent of their overall capacity compared to previous year.

Four African air carriers have suspended operations, while two others have gone into receivership.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), for its part, indicates that 2019 traffic volumes in Africa would not return before 2023. The continent “should experience a late recovery of its financial performance,” the association said, deploring the timid support of governments in the region.

On a global scale, passenger traffic has fallen by 60 percent, bringing air transport statistics back to the 2003 level.

Concretely, only 1.8 billion people boarded the plane in 2020, compared to 4.5 billion in 2019. As a result, the airlines worldwide have lost $370 billion, airports $115 billion, and air service providers $13 billion.

“With the border closures and travel restrictions put in place worldwide in April, the total number of passengers fell by 92 percent compared to 2019; 98 percent for international traffic and 87 percent for domestic transport,” says ICAO report.

“After reaching the low point in April, passenger traffic rebounded moderately during the summer period. However, this upward trend was short-lived, stagnating and then worsening in September when the second wave of infection in many regions prompted the reintroduction of restrictive measures,” the UN agency said.

Many African airlines, already very fragile even before the advent of the pandemic, risk bankruptcy. This is the case of South African Airways, which is almost bankrupt. Kenya Airways is going through a difficult phase with heavy losses that have pushed the Kenyan authorities to start its nationalization.


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