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Aviation yet to fully recover from pandemic losses – IATA

The International Air Transport Association said the aviation sector is still recovering from losses of the pandemic which crippled flight operations globally.

Africa lost an estimated $7.7bn in the aviation sector in 2020 as restrictions were put in place by governments to combat the spread of COVID-19, leading to a drop in traffic.

IATA estimated that Nigeria lost about N21bn monthly during the outbreak. Analysts said it would take until 2024 for the situation in the aviation sector to improve and return to 2019 levels.

AITA’s Regional Vice-President, Africa and Middle East, Kamil Alawadhi, at the 55thAFRAA Annual General Meeting, warned governments to desist from seeing the aviation sector as cash cows if the sector must harness its growth potential.

He said, “Africa’s aviation industry is still recovering from significant losses due to the pandemic.

To make up for this shortfall, governments should avoid imposing higher fees, levies, carbon taxes or new taxes on air transport, trade or tourism.

“These measures would only make air travel more expensive and less accessible in Africa, where the average airfare is already 30 per cent  higher than the industry average and the jet fuel cost is 10-20 per cent higher than the global average.”

While the sector continues to recover, higher costs will discourage customers who are sensitive to prices, which will impact revenue, he said.

“They would also hamper economic development and limit the opportunities for job creation and income generation. High cost leads to high price, which reduces demand and growth in a price-elastic market, and ultimately affects connectivity negatively.’’

He advised the governments to follow the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s policies on charges and infrastructure and consult with airlines and industry to ensure a fair and cost-effective operational environment that benefits a more connected continent.

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