Africa’s airlines have registered low passenger volumes since the onset of the COVID pandemic. The aviation industry’s progress in connecting the continent over the past decade is now at stake. Many prominent carriers like Kenya Airways have trimmed business trips across the continent down to an absolute minimum. Popular destinations to Asia, Europe, and North America have also been affected. In February, Air Namibia ceased operations and filed for bankruptcy. The airline had been in operation for more than 70 years. For a year now, South African Airways has grounded its fleet. It had been struggling even before the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Around 54 million passengers flew by plane within Africa during the pandemic in 2020. In the previous year, twice as many traveled. According to figures from the African Airlines Association (AFRAA), the turnover of airlines on the continent decreased by around $8 billion. This has been a heavy blow to an industry that raced from one record to the next before the crisis. And there is no end in sight to the downward trend. When passenger aviation in Africa may return to pre-crisis levels is uncertain, according to Berthe of AFRAA. This depends on the speed of the vaccination, which is lagging on the African continent. Just recently, the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) announced that it could take until the end of 2022 to vaccinate at least 60% of the continent’s population.
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