Slow Covid vaccine roll-out holds back Africa full aviation recovery


A KQ Dreamliner aircraft. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The slow rollout of Covid-19 vaccines is impeding on the recovery of the aviation sector in Africa even as the region is projected to book a $1.5 billion loss in 2022.

International Air Travel Association (IATA) says Africa is lagging other regions on vaccines.

The projected loss, will however, be narrower than the $1.9 losses that was expected to be made by African carriers at the end of this year.

“Africa is lagging other regions in its vaccine roll-out, which will impact international travel recovery. Airlines in the region are expected to post a $1.5 billion net loss in 2022 on top of a $1.9 billion loss in 2021,” said IATA.

The association says airline industry is facing an uneven recovery from the pandemic and that regions with large domestic markets, faster vaccination roll-out and less restrictive government policy will continue to recover faster than the other parts of the world.

“Financial performance in all regions is expected to improve in 2022 compared to 2021. However, at the aggregated level, net losses will extend to 2022 but will be only around one fifth of losses in 2021,” said the airline lobby.

IATA says consumer confidence has rebounded following the lockdown period last year and accumulated income of consumers supported domestic travel recovery.

Global Revenue Passenger Kilometere (RPKs) is estimated to improve by 18 percent in 2021, reaching 40 percent of pre-crisis levels.

Governments across the world have continued to support airlines as the impact of the Covid-19 shock has been deeper and longer than expected. This support, says IATA, prevented widespread airline failures this year, as was the case in 2020.

Support from governments has taken a variety of forms, including capital injections, loans, deferring the payment of taxes and reducing tax liabilities.

Airlines have been banking on the rollout of vaccines to ease the current lockdowns and other travel restrictions imposed by governments across the world.

In Africa, just about 1.85 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated, according to data available on the Africa CDC.

Worldwide, the numbers of infected cases reached 200 million, of which seven million are in Africa. The global recovery rate stands at 97.7 percent compared to 97.3 percent in Africa.

Re-start of operations on intercontinental routes by African airlines reached 77.8 percent in August 2021, though frequency and capacity remained constrained.

This represented a month-on-month increase in intercontinental operations of 3.1 percent. Airlines which added new intercontinental routes to their operations in August include Ethiopian Airlines, Royal Air Maroc and Kenya Airways.

According to Africa Airlines Association, general passenger traffic continues to be low across Africa due to the ravaging impact of Covid-19, inconsistencies in the messaging regarding border closures and failure to align health protocols in some countries and across regions.