African airlines set to post greater losses from new travel restrictions
African airlines are now expected to post wider losses this year as travel restrictions related to the emergence of the Omicron variant re-emerge.
The variant has exacerbated travel restrictions across the world adding to restrictions caused by a new wave of COVID-19 infections in Europe and Oceania.
The African Airlines Association now projects revenue losses of Ksh.958.8 billion ($8.5 billion) in 2021 or an equivalent 49 per cent of posted 2019 revenues.
“Across the African continent, passenger traffic volumes have continued to be low due to inconsistencies in the messaging regarding border closures, health protocols and continued surge in COVID-19 infections in some countries, and recently, the concern about Omicron, identified as a potentially more transmissible coronavirus variant,” AFRAA said.
In all months to November, air passenger traffic had reached 41.6 per cent of 2019 levels with the average capacity at 58 per cent.
The restart of operations by airlines has however been continuing on a positive trend with four of the top 15 continental carriers exceeding the number of their international routes in the pre-COVID period.
Some airlines including Air Arabia Maroc and EgyptAir have however been forced to close a few international routes.
Domestic market demand by passengers has meanwhile continued to outperform both intra-Africa and international travel albeit with reduced traffic.
Data from AFRAA shows African airlines’ lost Ksh.1.2 trillion ($10.21 billion) in revenues or an estimated 58.8 per cent of 2019 levels.