Windhoek - International Air Transport Association (IATA) Director-General Mr Alexander de Juniac says the aviation industry has lost between US$70 billion and US$80 billion because of COVID-19, and called for governments to support airlines through the turbulence.
Mr de Juniac said losses were keenly felt during the festive season, which is was extremely subdued as travel bans were reinitiated to try and contain the second wave of the pandemic.
Hardest hit are national carriers because governments cannot subsidise operations as resources are increasingly being diverted towards virus control measures.
Mr de Juniac said, “Research shows that there is minimum spread of the pandemic through travelling if there is improved testing and tracing of visitors before the trips. It is important that we work with governments in Africa and the world to introduce an application that would me it easy to track the movement of the people.”
He called on governments to ease travel restrictions and adopt other measures to deal with the spread of COVID-19, such as an electronic application where travellers can load relevant health information.
IATA spokesperson for Sub-Saharan Africa, Mr Linden Burns said the organisation was engaging governments across the region for adoption of the health electronic passports.
“Currently the application is being tested in Malaysia and will soon be used in most countries, including Africa, but the delay is obviously that we need to engage with the different authorities, especially on the security and data sharing aspects.
“As soon as African governments endorse the proposed tracking COVID-19 application we will then roll it out and travellers can be able to load their COVID-19 related information on it for easy tracking,” he said.
Late last year, IATA said Southern African airlines had lost 60 percent of their revenue and 58 percent of their passengers.
The figures for East Africa were a 56 percent decline in flight revenue and 53 percent in passenger traffic. In West Africa, airlines lost 63 percent of revenue and 58 percent of passengers, while in North Africa, the sector’s revenue was down 58 percent while passenger traffic fell 56 percent.