- Chidozie Uzoezie
African Airlines Suspend More Routes as COVID-19 Outbreak Rages On
As the global aviation industry suffers from the impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, more airlines are taking more hits from the viral scourge. African airlines are not left out.
Yesterday, 12 March, Kenya Airways announced that it was suspending flights to Rome and Geneva from 13 March to 30 April, 2020. According to the airline, affected passengers will be rebooked or offered full refund.
In a related vein, Air Tanzania, yesterday, also announced a temporal suspension of flights to Mumbai with effect from 13 March - 15 April as a result of the suspension of Visas to India due to COVID19 outbreak.
India had on Wednesday, 11 March, announced that it was suspending all existing visas, except diplomatic, official, UN/International Organizations, employment, project visas, till 15th April 2020. This will come into effect from 1200 GMT on 13th March 2020 at the port of departure.
It’s not clear at this moment how the other African airlines flying to Europe and India will respond to these latest developments. Other African airlines flying to India and/or Europe include South African Airways, RwandAir, Ethiopian Airlines, EgyptAir, Royal Air Maroc.
Following the rest of the world, most African airlines, had in January, 2020 suspended flights to China except Ethiopian Airlines which still maintains its scheduled flights between Addis Ababa and destinations in China.
The coronavirus which began to spread from Wuhan, in China, has been ravaging the entire world since January, 2020. Currently, there are 127,863 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in 75 countries with 4,718 deaths and 68,310 recoveries. Asia and Europe are the worst hit.
Concerned by the alarming levels of the coronavirus spread, severity and inaction, the World Health Organization (WHO) had on 11 march, 2020 formally declared the COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic and a global emergency.
In addition to airlines and the aviation industry, the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak has caused disruptions in the MICE sub-sector leading to the postponement of many international events including ITB Berlin, Aviation Festival Asia, AHIC, AviaDev Africa, and FIHA.