The African aviation industry, like its counterparts around the world, has endured a tumultuous pandemic. Losses in revenue and traffic, as well as uncertainty about future prospects, have pushed some airlines to the brink of collapse and beyond. Yet, other operators have seized the opportunities presented, and the sector’s ambitions have never been higher.
The impact of COVID-19 and the travel restrictions imposed to stem the spread of disease on the African aviation sector makes for grim reading. The African Airlines Association (AFRAA) states that revenue for African carriers fell by $8 billion in 2020 . Meanwhile, the African Development Bank (AfDB) reports that of the 7 million jobs in the continent’s aviation and tourism-industry sectors, over 70% were lost . With air traffic falling by nearly 90% , according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), it is perhaps inevitable that some airlines would succumb to the pressures. Among them was Air Namibia, after 70 years of service, which filed for bankruptcy in February 2021 . More recently, it has been reported that the Kenyan treasury has rejected a bailout of Kenya Airways, possibly condemning the country’s national carrier to collapse after reporting losses of over $104 million in the 6 months to June 2021. However, from these ashes, it cannot be denied that African aviation is in the midst of rising, phoenix-like, back to the skies. South African Aviation Reclaiming The Skies
While Air Namibia may have been permanently grounded, South Africa’s aviation sector proffers a far more optimistic outlook. Despite economic woes and the COVID-19 pandemic, the rainbow nation’s flagship carrier, South African Airlines (SAA), was seeking a return to the skies on the 23rd of September 2021 , with ambitions to expand beyond a range of regional destinations as the market stabilises. Meanwhile AirLink, a smaller South African operator, was able to take advantage of Air Namibia’s collapse and seize some of the newly available routes. Alongside these new ventures, AirLink’s prospects have been bolstered by a codesharing arrangement signed between the South African airline and Emirates, promising what has been described as “ connectivity to Emirates customers not offered by any other carrier in Africa…competitive fares, combined ticketing, and seamless baggage transfers” . That such a deal should go ahead, under the present conditions, is a significant indicator of the strength and vitality present in the South African aviation arena. East African Aviation […]