International bookings in Africa have dropped 20% in March and April, with domestic bookings down too, leading to a $4.4bn drop in revenue.
Figures revealed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) show the effect Coronavirus is having outside the headline areas of Asia Pacific, Europe and North America.
As reported, IATA has issued a plea to governments to step in and help airlines and now the industry body is calling on authorities in Africa and the Middle East to take action.
“Several governments in Africa and the Middle East have already committed national aid for COVID-19 including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Egypt, Nigeria and Mauritius,” said IATA Regional Vice President Africa, Middle East Muhammad Al Bakri.
“Our ask is that airlines, which are essential to all modern economies, are given urgent consideration. This will help keep them alive and ensure airline staff – and people working in allied sectors – have jobs to come back to at the end of the crisis. It will enable global supply chains to continue functioning and provide the connectivity that tourism and trade will depend on if they are to contribute to rapid post-pandemic economic growth.”
Africa’s air transport industry contributes an estimated $55.8bn to the economy and supports 6.2 million jobs, contributing 2.6% to GDP.
In the Middle East the industry contributes $130bn or 4.4% of GDP. Since the end of January, 16,000 passenger flights have been cancelled in the region and international bookings are currently down 40% year-on-year in March and April. Middle East airlines have lost $7.2bn, according to IATA, and ticket refunds have increased by 75% in 2020 compared to 2019.