Coronavirus symptoms what are they? Cough, fever, sore throat, shortness of breath: Call Ghana Health Service hotline 112  if you have these symptoms

In December 2019, a novel coronavirus emerged in Wuhan China and very few people predicted that this will become a pandemic. Most of us thought it would be contained in the region just like SARS COV1 and MERS.

We have had the plague pandemics in the 18th century, but these took a long time to traverse the globe, today it took about 3 months for the current outbreak of coronavirus to become a pandemic, thanks to aviation.

The innovation that has revolutionized international travel in the 20th century is going to change after the coronavirus pandemic.

Most sectors of our economy have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, however, the sector most hit by this pandemic is the aviation sector. This is the industry that has also helped spread the virus to all corners of the globe.

After this pandemic, the geometric of the aerospace sector is going to be altered forever both domestically and internationally. On the space front, work on some aspects of NASA’s Artemis program is currently on hold. The Artemis program is NASA’s next project to send a woman and man to the moon by 2024.

In the manufacturing aerospace sector, Boeing has suspended manufacturing in some of its plants and is seeking a bailout from the U.S government. Some air carriers may not be able to recover and new carriers may also emerge.

Data from OAG, a leading provider of flight data shows that as of March 30, 2020, the number of scheduled flights compared to the same period is down by 48 %. Domestically it is significantly lower since flights within Ghana are grounded since the lockdown.

IATA  records show that by June 30, 2020, over 2 million flight cancelations are projected globally and estimated revenue lost for 2020 is  252 billion united states dollars, down by 44 %.

The coronavirus has already claimed the life of airlines like Flybe and more may follow if this pandemic continues for a few more months. Some air carriers are furloughing staff  and Boeing is offering buyouts to its employees because it projects that this may last for the next 2  years.

This pandemic has not just affected the air carriers but governments too. Revenues from aviation taxes are going to fall from projected figures for the year. The ground staff who work at the various airports around the world are being asked to take leave.

On Thursday, April 2, 2020, British Airways announced that the airline has reached a deal with union to suspend 30,000 of its staff, this is because the airline has grounded most of its fleet.

It is not all gloom for these employees, the British government’s unemployment program will fund 80% of the salary of these workers capped at a maximum of 2500 British pounds per month.  The United States carriers are also seeking a bailout from the government and creditors to stay liquid for the next few months.

Ghana’s two domestic carriers have also asked most of its workers to go on unpaid leave, but what happens if this crisis continues for two or three more months?

Without government support, the future of domestic air travel cannot be guaranteed. The government should not consider these two airlines in the country as private entities and for them to battle this fight by themselves for I have already concluded that the COVID-19 shock is a fight that cannot be won by the domestic air carriers.

The government needs to consider this as a national security issue and come to the aid of the aviation service providers in the country. It is also time as a country we look at the option of getting unemployment insurance when we are in employment.

The airline industry has proven resilient to disruptions caused by pandemics in the past, the most recent one is the 2003 SARS epidemic in which the industry rebound in about 9 months back to pre-epidemic levels. We wait to see how the industry will rebound after the COVID-19 hard landing.