Romuald Ngueyap, Aviation Journalist, Newsaero
On August 3, ASKY Airlines resumed flights to some 15 African countries. After more than 3 months of inactivity due to the global health crisis.
While the reopening of air borders is gradually being done in several African countries, it comes with its share of restrictions. “We operate in fewer markets than expected with limited frequencies, this affects our channel, our demand and connectivity” explains Nowel Ngala, ASKY’s Commercial Director, who underlines that the company is evolving and is operating at less than 50% capacity rate.
“During the first three months of the crisis, the financial impact was estimated at more than 12.5 billion FCFA. Currently we are in the fourth month and these figures will be revised upwards” Ngala noted.
With the great uncertainty that persists on the full resumption of operations, ASKY want to be cautious about financial projections for the rest of the year. But obviously the contrast will be huge compared to last year’s operational performance. “2019 has been a good year for the company from a financial perspective, but we consider 2020 to be one of the worst years since the launch of our operations in 2010.”
To date, ASKY owned by several African banking institutions in partnership with Ethiopian Airlines (20%) has not received any government assistance. However, it remains resilient despite its hard hit cash flow. “So far, we have been able to maintain our full staff without downsizing or cutting wages. The size of our fleet – nine aircraft – has also remained intact.”
In the midst of this crisis, the company opted for stabilization of gains. “Our expansion plan for 2020 has been put on hold, both in terms of operations and the acquisition of aircraft. We will consolidate the existing one, until we come out of the crisis. “
To allow ASKY to reconnect with its pre-pandemic trafficking, Nowel Ngala believes that African governments have a big role to play. In addition to removing certain barriers, it will be necessary to eliminate the additional costs imposed by the Covid-19, which discourage travellers. More generally, “African countries should open their skies to allow airlines to fully resume their operations and play the role of catalyst for economic growth.”
He sees it as an opportunity to be seized with the withdrawal of international companies from several intra-African routes where they enjoyed the fifth freedom of the air. Now is the perfect time to boost connectivity by speeding up the effectiveness of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) and African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), Ngala concluded.
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