The economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak for African airlines is only becoming clearer now. For Kenya airways, the losses amount to $8m almost a month since the airline stoppled flying to China.
Before the outbreak, Kenya’s flag carrier used to fly to the industrial hub of Guangzhou three times a week. Acting company chief executive Allan Kilavuka told the East African that the losses include foregone passenger and cargo revenue.
Meanwhile, the government has since last week banned traffic to and from China over the outbreak. President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered in a directive among others that a task force be formed to coordinate the country’s response.
The task force on Tuesday also imposed a ban on flights from northern Italy, specifically from Verona and Milan. It said the measure was because of the spike in cases in the area.
Flights from the area are suspended as of March 3rd 2020, a statement read. “This part of Italy is currently experiencing coronavirus incidents which could affect the safety of Kenyans,” the statement added. Kenya’s coastal town of Malindi is popular with Italians, a journalist with South Africa’s SABC noted on Twitter.
The International Air Travel Association, IATA, said overall African carriers risked losing about $400m from China operations alone citing conservative estimates as at mid-February 2020. But for Kenya Airlines, the losses are a big blow for the already troubled outfit.
A takeover by the state is due to happen in May with lawmakers having approved the nationalisation of KQ to save it from mismanagement and mounting debt.
Globally, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) forecasts the aviation industry will lose $29 billion worth of passenger revenues this year.
Ethiopian airlines is the only significant African carrier which has maintained flights to China, where the coronavirus has killed over 2,000 and infected over 75,000.