Coronavirus affecting Africa’s aviation sector, says industry association

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The current coronavirus outbreak is affecting Africa’s aviation sector due to massive flight suspensions and cancellations, the industry association said on Tuesday.

Abderahmane Berthe, secretary-general of the African Airlines Association (AFRAA), told a media briefing in Nairobi that before the outbreak of the coronavirus, on average the continent’s airlines derived five percent of their revenues from China and another seven percent from the Asia Pacific region.

“At present, all African airlines except one have suspended travel to China and this has negatively impacted their revenues,” Berthe said.

He observed that demand for international travel has reduced as countries all over the world place travel restrictions while major conferences have also been canceled as a precaution to avoid the spread of the virus.

Berthe noted that over the past decade several African airlines began operating flights to China to tap into the growing Sino-Africa trade.

He noted that the African air travel sector can mitigate the impact of the virus through redeployment of its fleet to African routes which have not been affected by the coronavirus epidemic.

AFRAA has already developed guidelines to ensure the air transport sector plays its role in the control and prevention of the outbreak in Africa thereby minimizing the impact of the disease on aviation in the continent.

Berthe said that however some African airlines have not yet being affected by the spread of the virus because they do not fly to China or Europe.

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