With a host of countries – mainly across Europe – announcing over the weekend that they have now banned air travel due to the wave of COVID-19 infections stemming from a rampantly spreading mutation of the virus, the future of South Africa’s tourism and aviation industries are yet again in serious jeopardy.
Six nations – including Germany and France, countries where many of SA’s regular tourists hail from – have imposed restrictions on flights from South Africa, as of 10:30 on Monday 21 December and two others have issued an outright ban on all travellers entering from our shores.
Travel bans force major Aviation set back
Guy Leitch, Editor of SA Flyer Magazine told SABC News on Monday that the global recovery of airlines and the industry as a whole has once again been pushed back beyond optimistic projections.
“It’s going to set back the global recovery of the airline industry even further than what was projected a month ago and it kicked the recovery period down to the middle of next year,” he said.
Leich said that the impact of the travel bans on the South African aviation industry will be felt in a number of ways, with flight schedules requiring a mutual trade off of demand in both countries sending and receiving guests.
“It is bad because it obviously affects the number of South Africans traveling to Germany as tourists. We must remember that airlines are a two-way thing so if there are no South Africans traveling to Germany, there are not going to be flights to bring Germans to South Africa which will further hit the recovery of international tourism to South Africa,” he said.
SA aviation set to lose R55 billion in 2020
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has predicted that revenues generated by airlines in the South African market will fall by about R55 billion in 2020, a decline of around 56% from 2019 performances.
IATA warned – prior to the latest round of restrictions being introduced – that the restrictions place 252 100 jobs and about R93 billion of South Africa’s GDP generated directly by aviation and by tourism in dire jeopardy.
“Without a viable air transport sector, recovery will be drawn out and painful,” they said in early December.
“South Africa’s economy had already slowed before the crisis, with unemployment at record levels. Fully supporting aviation now is critical if the economy is to expand at a pace that will make a positive difference to its citizens’ lives.”