The International Air Transport Association has released new data on the impact of COVID-19 on Africa’s aviation industry and economies.

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The released data indicate the aviation industries and economies in Africa depreciating sharply since the previous assessment in April.

IATA reports that African’s aviation would suffer job losses to the tune of 3.5 million.

This is more than half of the region’s 6.2 million aviation-related employment and 400,000 more than the previous estimate, according to the body.

The umbrella body which represents 290 airlines said full-year 2020 traffic was expected to plummet by 54 per cent compared to 2019. It previously estimated a fall of 51 per cent.

These were contained in a report titled ‘Impact of COVID-19 on African Aviation and Economies is Worsening’.

According to the report, passenger numbers in Nigeria declined in June and August by 5.3 million and 5.7 million respectively when compared to the corresponding periods in 2019.

The report did not provide the data for July.

It said 139,500 jobs were at risk in June while 149,400 jobs were estimated to be at risk for the month of August.

Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product for April 2020 slumped by $0.9bn while August 2020 continued to decline with $1.1bn.

The IATA’s Regional Vice President for Africa and the Middle East, Muhammad Albakri, said, “COVID-19 has devastated African economies and brought air connectivity across the continent to a virtual standstill. And the situation is getting worse.

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“The economic consequences resulting from a disconnected continent are severe.

“Millions of jobs and livelihoods are at risk in family-run enterprises and large corporations along the entire travel and tourism value chain.

“For Africa’s economic recovery and future prosperity, it is essential to expedite the safe restart of the industry.”

He called for the harmonised adoption of the International Civil Aviation Organisation Council’s Aviation Recovery Task Force Take-off guidance in Africa.

The IATA Vice President remarked that Africa “must apply these recommendations consistently and uniformly, without imposing unnecessary border constraints such as quarantines, which deter passengers and suppress the demand for air travel.”

Al Bakri said financial relief that does not increase industry debt levels are indeed essential to support airlines over the restart and recovery period.