As the world comes to grips with the pandemic’s acute health and socio-economic impacts, it is now certain that we are facing a new reality of unprecedented uncertainty.

Covid19, has brought the aviation industry to a halt, and like everywhere else, it has had a massive social, financial and economic impact across Africa.

Prior to this pandemic, the outlook for air transport in Africa was extremely positive. Airbus Global Market Forecast (GMF) 2019 predicted that passenger traffic to and from Africa would increase by 5.4 yearly over the twenty years.

This was in line with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) predictions that Africa would be the second fastest growing aviation market in the 20 years leading to 2037 with passenger numbers expected to increase to 334 million.

The grounding of flights due to covid19 has resulted in losses to the airlines, ground handlers and all other sectors dependent on aviation such as tourism and trade. This has also demonstrated the intrinsic vital nature of aviation.

Despite the turbulence caused by the pandemic, Africa has demonstrated its strong resilience.

Happily enough, as at putting up this write-up, some African countries have opened borders (notably, Kenya, Rwanda, Egypt, Benin, Tanzania and Ethiopia)

Aircrafts have continued to fly around serving nations around the world as the only means of transport capable of delivering essential time-sensitive cargo and medical supplies. For example, Ethiopia and the UN opened a humanitarian hub at Addis Ababa airport to move supplies and aid workers across Africa to help fight coronavirus.   

The future however looks quite bright though IATA predicts that African airlines will lose $6 billion in revenue this year, on the other side, the African continent has made significant strides towards the expansion and improvement of airport infrastructure and air traffic management with countries such as Ghana, Niger, Senegal, South Africa Uganda and Ethiopia are expanding existing airports, or building new ones.

Moving forward, the redirection efforts and focus of the aviation operations should be towards Cargo. This in the short term will assure some cash flow for carriers, ground handling companies and agents as well as those that can take advantage of the changing landscape.

As countries begging to open up and lift travel restrictions, operators may find ways to maximize load factors by mirroring passenger routes with those kept open by cargo activity.

Flying indeed has changed. Travel has changed. The world has changed.

Three short sentences maybe but 10 words that are absolutely true thanks to covid-19 pandemic that has actively changed the way we live our lives, and will continue to do so for many years to come.

Looking into the future, we are all seeing the impact now and will continue to see it going forward. On a personal level it hurts to lose colleagues and friends. On a business level, it hurts us to see regression.

But there are signs of optimism and we should all capitalise on them to bring that recovery.