Airports in MENA begin reopening as cargo capacity increases

Egypt is the latest country in the Middle East and North Africa region to announce that it is reopening airports to resume regular commercial flights, which will increase air freight capacity across the market.

Passenger flights out of Egypt were suspended in March as governments around the world introduced travel restrictions to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Egypt’s civil aviation minister, Mohamed Manar Anba, told a media conference that flights would begin to operate gradually from 1 July.

Kuwait is also said to be considering plans for a gradual resumption of commercial flights in and out of the country.

Kuwait became the first country in the Middle East to shut down its airport on 13 March and has endured one of the strictest lockdowns in the region since the pandemic broke out.

Without providing dates, Kuwait’s aviation authority the country will adopt a phased reopening of flights.

Kuwait International Airport, which is home to Kuwait Airways and one of the Middle East’s most successful low-cost carriers, Jazeera Airways, will resume around 30% of its operations in the first phase of reopening and 60% in the second.

While countries begin to reopen for international flights, more job losses are expected among airlines in the Middle East in the coming weeks as carriers in the region are forecasted to make a loss of $4.8 billion this year.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) issued its latest forecast for the industry last week, which estimates that the global airline market will lose $84.3 billion in 2020 as revenues fall 50% down to $419 billion.

“Financially, 2020 will go down as the worst year in the history of aviation,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s CEO. “On average, every day of this year will add $230 million to industry losses. That’s why government financial relief was and remains crucial as airlines burn through cash.”

In 2021, global losses are expected to be cut to $15.8 billion as revenues rise to $598 billion.


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