Shipping & Logistics

Airlines face more turbulent skies on Covid resurgence

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Ethiopian Airlines (ET) aircraft at JKIA. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Airlines are staring at uncertain future following the second wave of Covid-19 that has seen carriers such as Kenya Airways disrupt their schedule to some of its international routes.
  • The second wave, which has come with travel restrictions and a decline in passenger numbers, will further dim the hopes of airlines returning to profitability soon.
  • The second wave that has mainly hit European nations has seen some of the countries, including United Kingdom place a lockdown in the city of England to tame the spread of the virus.

Airlines are staring at uncertain future following the second wave of Covid-19 that has seen carriers such as Kenya Airways disrupt their schedule to some of its international routes.

The second wave, which has come with travel restrictions and a decline in passenger numbers, will further dim the hopes of airlines returning to profitability soon.

The second wave that has mainly hit European nations has seen some of the countries, including United Kingdom place a lockdown in the city of England to tame the spread of the virus.

This comes at a time when International Air Travel Association (IATA) has announced that industry wide revenue passenger-kilometres fell by 70.3 percent year-on-year to November.

“The recovery in air travel has stalled amidst elevated Covid-19 cases and re-introduction of travel restrictions in some regions,” said IATA.

Kenya Airways announced last Friday that it is temporarily suspending its services to France - Charles de Gaulle Airport— and the Netherlands – Schiphol Airport in February 2021.

It attributed the suspension to the new Covid-19 regulations in Europe that have resulted in depressed demand.

“The airline expects to resume regular services to France on March 3, 2021 and to the Netherlands on March 7, 2021, and will keep customers updated in case of any changes to these resumption plans,” said the company chief executive officer Allan Kilavuka.

KQ had indicated in November that it would suspend flights to London and France following the second wave of lockdown that has slowed down demand on these routes.

IATA said resurgence of the virus and associated restrictions weighed on air travel recovery progress across many domestic and international markets with Europe remaining the most severely impacted region due to strict containment measures.

Kenya Airport Authority managing director Alex Gitari said the domestic travel has improved significantly in the country as opposed to international travel. “We have witnessed a significant growth on domestic travel in the last couple of months, however, the international one is yet to pick,” said Mr Gitari in an interview with Shipping & Logistics.

IATA said it’s not only the infection rate that has affected travel but also resulting government response that has been impacting passengers’ travel plans.

It said the evidence from the UAE-UK route indicates that lifting travel restrictions results in higher number of bookings.