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African Nations Prepare to Reopen Airspace

Jul 06, 2020

Nations on the African continent face a tough choice as coronavirus infections soar: Do they welcome the international flights that introduced the coronavirus to the continent, or allow their economies to be further damaged by keeping borders closed?

Egypt reopened it’s airports last week following their three-month closure. Africa News reports that other countries are preparing to follow, despite Africa having more than 476,967 currently confirmed virus cases.

According to the African Union, the continent’s travel and tourism sector has lost almost $55 billion in the past three months, with airlines having lost about $8 billion. Most African countries had closed their airspace to try and keep the pandemic contained, and as a result some airlines are expected to fold.

The World Health Organisation’s Africa chief, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, said, “Many governments have decided travel needs to resume.”

According to Africa News, within the three-day period between June 30 and July 2, the daily number of departures increased from 3,960 to 6,508 as countries relaxed restrictions. African nations want to follow suit. The 15-member Economic Community of West African States is expected to reopen its airspace on July 21.

Meanwhile, in Nigeria domestic flights will resume on July 8 and in Rwanda, on August 1. South Africa and Somalia are open for domestic flights, while Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Tanzania and Zambia now have commercial flights.

Senegal’s international flights will begin on July 15. Kenya Airways also wants to resume international flights. Tanzanian skies opened weeks ago, even though it’s suspected that the country is hiding the true extent of infections. There have been no coronavirus numbers out of Tanzania since April. Ethiopian Airlines, having overhauled its services for cargo and repatriation flights, wants to play a prominent role in the so called “new normal”.

Meanwhile, the WHO has advised countries to examine their ability to fight widespread virus transmission against the economic benefits of opening borders.

Umm Muhammed Umar

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