New data paints a bleak picture on Covid-19’s impact on the Middle East aviation industry, and on economies caused by the shutdown of air traffic due to the Covid-19 pandemic has deepened over recent weeks.
Job losses in aviation and related industries could grow to 1.5mn. That is more than half of the region’s 2.4mn aviation-related employment and 300,000 more than the previous estimate.
Full-year 2020 traffic is expected to plummet by 56% compared to 2019. Previous estimate was a fall of 51%.
GDP supported by aviation in the region could fall by up to $85bn. Previous estimate was $66bn.
Middle East economies have been brought to their knees by Covid-19. And without air connectivity being re-established, the socio-economic impact is getting worse. Businesses which contribute substantially to the region’s GDP and provide thousands of jobs are at risk without these vital connections. For the region’s economic recovery, it is imperative that the industry restart safely as soon as possible,” said Muhammad Al Bakri, IATA’s Regional Vice President for Africa and the Middle East.
There’s still real concern that opening up airports will increase community transmission within a country. Jordan postponed a resumption of international flights, despite plans announced by Civil Aviation Commission chief Haitham Misto. Jordan was originally scheduled to open to around 22 destinations on a so-called low risk “green” list of countries — but this is yet to be implemented. Officials in Jordan are worried that large numbers of people arriving by air could reverse Jordan’s success in curbing the spread of Covid-19, the few recorded daily cases over the last six weeks have been attributed mostly to people coming from abroad.
The closure of Queen Alia International Airport, a major regional hub which normally processes around 9mn passengers annually, has worsened the economic damage wrought by the pandemic on Jordan’s aid-dependent economy. Tourism is a major source of foreign currency and had been enjoying an unprecedented boom before the pandemic.
The Sultanate of Oman’s aviation sector remains closed to all scheduled commercial passenger flights until September, at the earliest. Oman’s aviation closure is one among the longest Covid-19 air travel shutdowns in the world.
The latest assessment from IATA Economics shows that the outlook at the national level has worsened for major aviation markets in the Middle East since June.
New data also indicates that the impact of Covid-19 on Africa’s aviation industry and economies has worsened sharply since the previous assessment in April.
Job losses in aviation and related industries could increase by up to 3.5mn. That is more than half of the region’s 6.2mn aviation-related employment and 400,000 more than the previous estimate.
Full-year 2020 traffic is expected to plummet by 54% (more than 80mn passenger journeys) compared to 2019. Previous estimate was a fall of 51%.
GDP supported by aviation in the region could fall by up to $35bn. IATA previously estimated a $28bn decline.
The demand for air cargo on African airlines has also dropped further in June compared to previous month, a new report by a global airlines trade association has shown The demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometres, for the African airlines contracted by 13.8% in June.
African airlines reported a 13.8% year–on-year decline in international cargo volumes in June, up from a 7.3% fall in May.
Elsewhere, despite previous tensions, the US and China will allow each other’s carriers to double current flights between the world’s largest aviation markets, the US Transportation Department (DOT) confirmed. The DOT has issued an order that allows the four Chinese airlines performing scheduled passenger services to the US to increase their services to eight round-trip flights per week.
*The author is an aviation analyst.