NIGERIAN airlines lost a total of $2.09bn during the course of April and June as a result of the coronavirus lockdown according to statistics just published by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Like most other nations, Nigeria closed all her airports during the pandemic and grounded all airlines, paralysing the aviation industry. In a recent review of the impact the lockdown had on the sector, the IATA published a report, titled Quarantine Measures Threaten Aviation Restart in Africa and the Middle East.
In its report, which did not provide data for May, the IATA noted that aviation was the worst-hit sector in Africa and the Middle East with more than 8.6m jobs at risk. According to the report, passenger numbers in Nigeria declined in April and June by 4.7m and 5.32m respectively when compared to the corresponding periods in 2019.
It said 125,400 jobs were at risk in April while 139,500 jobs were estimated to be at risk for the month of June. Muhammad Albakri, the IATA’s regional vice president for Africa and the Middle East, asked for alternatives to government-imposed quarantines on Africa and Middle East countries as it affected the profitability of the travel and tourism sector.
Mr Albakri said: “It is critical that African and Middle East (Ame) governments implement alternatives to quarantine measures. Ame has the highest number of countries in the world with government-imposed quarantine measures on arriving passengers.
“The region is effectively in complete lockdown with the travel and tourism sector shuttered. This is detrimental in a region where 8.6m people depend on aviation for their livelihoods.”
In another report, the IATA said the global passenger demand for air transport fell by 91.3% in June, adding that passenger demand for air travel in May 2020 also dropped by 91.3% compared with May 2019. According to the report, this was a little better than the 94% annual decline recorded in April and the improvement was driven by recovery in some domestic markets, most notably China.
IATA director-general Alexandre de Juniac, said: “May was not quite as terrible as April but that’s about the best thing that can be said. As predicted, the first improvements in passenger demand are occurring in domestic markets as international traffic remained virtually stopped in May.
“We are only at the very beginning of a long and difficult recovery. There is tremendous uncertainty about what impact a resurgence of new Covid-19 cases in key markets could have.”
According to the May 2020 year-on-year statistics, Africa’s passenger demand for air travel fell by 97.9% while its capacity metrics such as available seat kilometres, fell by 79.9%. Several African nations have resumed domestic flights but it is expected to be a few months before fullscale international travel resumes.