While some countries have reopened their borders in recent weeks, global air transport, brought to a halt by the Covid 19 crisis, is slowly picking up again. With over $2 billion in losses, airlines are struggling to get back on track. All the more so as new conditions, particularly in terms of health, are being imposed on them. In the skies as well, there will be an after Covid 19 and travelling won’t be as easy as it used to be…
Until recently, crossing continents was as easy as a click: just log on to an online travel platform, buy a ticket, get to the airport two hours before take-off, and off you go. The usual constraints: visa formalities, possible delays on a flight, lost luggage… That was before. From now on, traveling is a puzzle. If since the beginning of the summer, countries have been gradually reopening their borders and airports, it is not enough to say that it is once again possible to travel from one country to another, let alone to another continent.
New health standards in force
Since March, only cargo and military flights have been allowed to cross the skies, with civil aviation paralyzed. Since then, Ghana and Nigeria have allowed the resumption of domestic flights. While Tunisair, the continent’s first to be admitted into the Schengen area, followed by Kenya Airways, have resumed international flights, pending Rwandair scheduled for 1 August. With the new health measures in use: airport disinfection, mandatorily wearing a mask, taking the temperature of passengers, restricted boarding service, empty middle seat, etc., it is now possible to take the temperature of the passengers.
Measures adopted by international organizations, including IATA. These, as well as ACI Africa, jointly called on African States on 16 June for a coherent and harmonized implementation of the measures recommended by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which “should lead to the safe lifting of travel restrictions and the reopening of borders. »
These measures include cleaning, disinfection and social distancing of airports and aircraft, screening and quarantine of aircrew, establishment of airport protocols for the management of suspicious cases of Covid-19, and the installation of protective barriers at the point of transfer, loading and unloading of cargo, among others.
New health standards that will allow a gradual recovery of activity while losses for the sector amount to billions of dollars.
Turnover halved in 2020
This year, African airports are expected to register 114 million fewer passengers (-47.3%) and a loss of earnings of around 2.2 billion dollars, a drop of 51.2%, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA). According to the same source, the sector’s overall turnover will fall by 44% by 2020, while world GDP will ‘‘only’’ fall by 3%.
For some companies, the Covid 19 pandemic will have been the crisis of too much. Thus, Air Mauritius is under the provisional administration of the Grant Thornton firm; South African Airways will be replaced by a new national airline; Kenya Airways, which is entering its 8th consecutive year of losses, announces a massive layoff; … For the others, the priority is to resume activity. Whatever the risks. Thus Ethiopian Airlines, Africa’s largest airline, has refused to comply with the new health standards in force…
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