The Aviation Industry After COVID-19
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday, July 6 announced a “phased reopening” of the country, with the resumption of international flights from August 1 as well as the lifting of internal travel restrictions. The announcement made Kenya the latest African country to announce dates for the resumption of flights.
Globally, the COVID-19 pandemic has had an enormous impact on the aviation industry, affecting passenger traffic, air cargo demand, airport workforce and incoming revenues.
Before the pandemic had spread, Kenya had recorded 3.5 million fewer passengers resulting in a US$0.73 billion revenue loss, risking 193,300 jobs and US$1.6 billion in contribution to Kenya’s economy.
How massive is the aviation sector? A recent report indicates that the air transport industry supports a total of 65.5 million jobs globally. It provides 10.2 million direct jobs.
Airlines, air navigation service providers, and airports directly employ around three and a half million people.
The civil aerospace sector (the manufacture of aircraft, systems, and engines) employs 1.2 million people. A further 5.6 million people work in other on-airport positions. Another 55.3 million indirect, induced, and tourism-related jobs are supported by aviation.
As other African countries start reopening their borders after a long shutdown, we expect the aviation to take some time to pick. The World Health Organization has, however, warned of the delicate balance between resuming international flights to help economies recover and avoiding a surge in coronavirus infections.
Will the aviation sector recover after the pandemic?
Even as the sector starts to resume operations, it is anticipated that at least $6 to $8.1 billion of passenger revenue this year will be lost, as compared to the amount lost in 2019 with over 3.1 million aviation jobs being lost.
However, the air passenger traffic and air freight traffic are expected to more than double in the next two decades. Forecasts indicate that in 2036, aviation will provide 98 million jobs and generate USD 5.7 trillion in GDP.