The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has released updated figures on the economic impact of COVID-19 to the region’s aviation sector. The latest figures break down the revenue losses by each country, with Saudi and the UAE projected to take the hardest hit.
The UAE would be the second-worst effected country in the region, with 23.8 fewer passengers this year, a US$5.36 billion drop in revenue and a potential 287,863 jobs at risk. The country’s economy is projected to lose $17.7 billion due to the struggles of the aviation sector.
For Saudi Arabia, this year could see 28.7 million fewer passengers compared to 2019, equating to a $5.61 billion loss in revenue. If this were to happen, 217,570 jobs would be put at risk and the Saudi economy as a whole would lose up to $13.6 billion.
IATA regional VP for MEA Muhammad Al Bakri explained: “The air transport industry is an economic engine, supporting up to 8.6 million jobs across Africa and the Middle East and $186 billion in GDP. Every job created in the aviation industry supports another 24 jobs in the wider economy. Governments must recognise the vital importance of the air transport industry, and that support is urgently needed.”
Attributing the losses to travel bans and movement restrictions, IATA has again called for MEA governments to better support their aviation sectors. While the Authority hailed the UAE for its efforts so far, it added that more is needed in direct financial support, loans, loan guarantees and tax relief initiative.
Al Bakri added: “Failure by Governments to act now will make this crisis longer and more painful. Airlines have demonstrated their value in economic and social development in Africa and the Middle East and governments need to prioritize them in rescue packages. Healthy airlines will be essential to jump-start the Middle East and global economies post-crisis.”
Al Bakri did outline some nations the Authority believes are taking positive steps. “Some regulators are taking positive action. We are grateful to the Ghana, Morocco, the UAE, Saudi Arabic and South Africa for agreeing a full-season waiver to the slot use rule. This will enable airlines and airports greater flexibility for this season and greater certainty for summer. But there is more to do on the regulatory front. Governments need to recognize that we are in a crisis.”
The breakdown of potential losses by country is below:
9.5 million fewer passengers resulting in a US$1.6 billion revenue loss, risking almost 205,560 jobs and around US$2.4 billion in contribution to the Egyptian economy.
2.8 million fewer passengers resulting in a US$0.5 billion revenue loss, risking 26,400 jobs and US$0.8 billion in contribution to Jordan’s economy.
10.7 million fewer passengers resulting in a US$2.29 billion revenue loss, risking 186,850 jobs and US$3.8 billion in contribution to South Africa’s economy.
3.5 million fewer passengers resulting in a US$ 0.76 billion revenue loss, risking 91,380 jobs and US$0.65 billion in contribution to Nigeria’s economy.
1.6 million fewer passengers resulting in a US$0.3billion revenue loss, risking 327,062 jobs and US$1.2 billion in contribution to Ethiopia’s economy.
2.5 million fewer passengers resulting in a US$ 0.54 billion revenue loss, risking 137,965 jobs and US$1.1 billion in contribution to Kenya’s economy.