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News around Africa - March 12, 2020

Coronavirus: Royal Air Maroc grounds a Third of its Fleet

Earlier, we reported that because of the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus, Royal Air Maroc and several other African Airlines had suspended flights to and from China. This made it hard to operate and saw airlines letting hundreds of staff go, in a bid to stay afloat. But, due to the IATA regulations that govern slot allocation, another effect of this pandemic on the aviation industry is the grounding of airplanes.

Coronavirus: Royal Air Maroc grounds a Third of its Fleet
Raphael Kuuchi – Vice President, IATA Africa

This effect is made clear as Morocco’s flag carrier Royal Air Maroc grounded a third of its fleet as demand drops on the back of the surge of coronavirus cases worldwide with immediate ramification on tourism and international bookings. Le 360 news outlet, citing unnamed sources, said the Moroccan airline has immobilized 20 aircrafts out of 58 airplanes it operates.

The consequences of low demand on flights and the suspension of all trips to Italy and China weighed on the airline operations, which dropped 40%. The company adopted austerity measures, delayed acquisitions and asked staff to take holidays. It also decided to reduce the frequency of its flights by around 35% in the months of March and April. The state may intervene to financially back up the company and offset the losses due to Covid-19, le 360 reported.

A grounded Royal Air Maroc airplane

Globally, the International Civil Aviation Agency (IATA) has announced losses for the entire airline industry of up to $113 billion, or more than 20% of sales. Morocco has registered so far 6 coronavirus cases, all imported the virus from Italy and France. A woman, in Morocco, aged 89 years old died of the virus. The economic consequences of the new virus are expected to hit economic growth in the country, which is expected to drop to 2% as tourist arrivals dwindle and exports stall amid global uncertainties.

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