African airlines “lost $ 10 billion because of Covid-19”

By Zephania Ubwani

Arusha. Airlines in Africa lost $ 10.21 billion in revenue last year due to the Covid-19 viral pandemic.

The sharp drop in income followed travel restrictions on the global aviation industry and the resulting trip cancellations.

The tourism sector has been the main casualty which has seen the East African Community (EAC) bloc lose $ 4.8 billion in forecasted tourism revenue.

This was revealed Thursday in Kigali by the executive director of the EABC, Mr. John Bosco Kalisa, during a meeting with the actors of the private sector in the Rwandan capital.

In order to pave the way for recovery, he suggested reducing fees and taxes related to air transport.

This, he said, would reduce the cost of air travel to the EAC region – and, as a result, attract more global travel by tourists and the business community.

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Mr Kalisa said average airport charges in East Africa stood at $ 579.78, increasing the costs of air tickets and freight – thus affecting the regional bloc’s competitiveness in the air transport sector. aviation.

Passenger taxes on regional departures average $ 46.16, while taxes on international departures are $ 47.85. Passengers are also taxes and transfer and arrival fees.

In addition to the passenger taxes levied directly on the ticket, airlines are also charged for noise, parking, equipment of common user terminals, bridge fees, passenger buses, lighting, increasing still their operating costs.

The CEO of the works council also urged transport ministers from EAC partner states to reduce and align parking, landing, navigation, handling and taxes on aircraft.

This, he said, would increase traffic volumes and strengthen the resilience and recovery of the air transport sector in the EAC bloc. “Air taxes and fees represent 50 percent of the cost of airline tickets,” he said during his visit to RwandAir headquarters in Kigali.

He said the reduction in these fees will reduce operating and airfare costs, leading to increased air traffic volumes, boosting tourism and regional business.

RwandAir CEO Ms Yvonne Makolo said the East African region needs a change in mindset as air travel is not a luxury but a necessity, especially now with the disruption due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

She urged the EABC to push for market access under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to boost exports of EAC products.


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