Egypt's airlines to lose $1.6 billion due to coronavirus: IATA

Ayat Al Tawy , Thursday 2 Apr 2020

African and Middle Eastern airlines have lost $23 billion due to the spread of the virus, the association said

Egypt Air
File photo: In this August 21, 2015 file photo shows an EgyptAir Airbus A320 with the registration SU-GCC taking off from Vienna International Airport, Austria (AP)

Egypt’s airline industry faces a potential loss in revenue of $1.6 billion and 9.5 million fewer passengers in 2020 due to the coronavirus crisis, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said.

The impact of the disease means the country is “risking almost 205,560 jobs and around $2.4 billion in contribution to the Egyptian economy,” the association said on Thursday.

"These are projections on the financial impact COVID-19 could have in 2020," IATA told Ahram Online by email.

Airlines around the world made unprecedented cuts to flights amid lockdowns and widening travel curbs to contain the spread of the virus.

IATA, the world's largest airline body, estimates that losses by airlines in Africa and the Middle East this year will reach $23 billion as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The figure is the "passenger revenue loss expected in 2020 vs. 2019 levels under the scenario where severe restrictions on travel are lifted after three months," IATA added to Ahram Online.

This represents a 32 percent drop in revenues for Africa and 39 percent for the Middle East this year, compared to 2019 figures, it said in a report published Thursday.

The association called for “urgent action” from governments to provide financial support to rescue the hard-hit industry.

“To minimise the broad damage these losses would have across the African and Middle East economies, it is vital that governments step up their efforts to aid the industry,” said IATA, which represents some 290 airlines around the globe.

It called for a mixture of direct financial support, loans, loan guarantees and support for the corporate bond market and tax relief.

“Failure by governments to act now will make this crisis longer and more painful,” said Mohamed Al-Bakri, IATA’s Regional Vice President for Africa and the Middle East. “Healthy airlines will be essential to jump-start the Middle East and global economies post-crisis,” he added.

The vital air transport industry offers as many as 8.6 million jobs across Africa and the Middle East and $186 billion in GDP, according to Al-Bakri. Every job created in the aviation industry supports another 24 jobs in the wider economy, he added.

Earlier this week, Egypt’s private airline companies appealed to the civil aviation minister to intervene to help stop the losses of the companies.

Egypt extended a suspension of international flights until mid-April as part of drastic measures to curb the spread of the virus.

Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said last month that local aviation firms would suffer losses of EGP 2.25 billion (approximately $143 million) due to the latest measures.

Several governments in the region have offered financial and tax relief to airlines, including Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Jordan.  

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