Almost all of Africa's airlines are currently grounded because of the coronavirus pandemic and several could go bankrupt, the African Airlines Association (AFRAA) warned Thursday.
"Today, 95 percent of African planes are grounded owing to the pandemic, save for cargo flights," AFRAA secretary general Abderrahmane Berthe told AFP.
A large number of African states have closed their airports and borders because of the virus, forcing carriers to scrap inter-African as well as inter-continental flights.
"If the African carriers do not receive support they will find themselves insolvent come the end of June," warned Berthe, who calculated that the sector would require a bailout of between $2.5 to 3 billion (2.3 to 2.8 billion euros) in emergency aid or tax concessions.
"African carriers were already in a precarious state well before the COVID-19 pandemic. They have been making losses for a decade while other companies elsewhere were making money," Berthe said.
"The past fortnight has been catastrophic for African carriers whose planes are grounded. They have no revenue while at the same time they face costs they cannot squeeze" such as plane hire, maintenance, insurance and parking fees.
AFRAA's 45 member carriers account for 85 percent of inter-African traffic totaling 93 million passengers a year.
Although Africa accounts for just a two percent share of global air traffic, passenger numbers on the continent have been doubling every 15 to 20 years.