Covid-19: According to the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC), the new Covid-19 Omicron sub-variant, BQ1.1 have been identified by the WHO and is currently present in 29 countries. This is likely to drive another increase in Covid-19 cases. In Asia and China, in particular, the virus is still present, though the number has reduced. In Africa, the number of infections remains low despite the low vaccination rate. The total case count has reached 630 million and 12.6 million worldwide and in Africa respectively. The global recovery rate is 98.9%. Only 24.2% of Africans have received at least one vaccine compared to the global average of 68.4%.
Ebola: The government of Uganda has reported 90 cumulative cases of the Ebola virus with 28 active cases on admission and 28 lives lost. The epicenters of Mubende and Kassandra are in a 21-day lockdown. 15 confirmed cases are now reported in the capital Kampala at the time of this report. No cross-border cases have been recorded.
The Uganda Medical Association is calling for a lockdown of Kampala to contain the spread. On 12 October, a High-Level Communique on cross-border collaboration for preparedness and response to the Ebola virus was signed by Ministers of Health of Burundi, D.R. Congo, Kenya, Liberia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Regional Economic Communities and partners. Airlines are encouraged to closely monitor the situation in Uganda and take appropriate action when necessary.
Airline Performance: This October traffic and airlines capacity deployed reached 82.5% and 82.2% of the 2019 level respectively. Domestic market share is now at 37.6% capacity and 32.8%% of passengers carried while intra-Africa passengers carried represented 29.5% and corresponding capacity at 25.9%. Intercontinental traffic this month is 37.6% and capacity is 34.7%. African airlines’ operations on international routes have now exceeded the 2019 pre-covid level by 0.31%. 8 African airlines have exceeded the number of international routes they operated before Covid.
AFRAA estimates the revenue loss due to Covid for 2022 to be $3.5 billion, equivalent to 20% of 2019 full-year revenue. The projected revenue loss for the third quarter of 2022 is approximately $800 million.
Jet A1 price continues the upward trend. Year to date, the global average price per barrel is $142.1. The impact on global airlines’ fuel bills is estimated at $131.8 billion for the full year 2022.
Regulatory and Industry Developments
- Mozambique e-Visa: The Government of Mozambique has developed an online platform for the issuance of e-Visas to tourists and Businessmen by end of October 2022.
- South Africa e-Visa: The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) has informed the aviation community of its electronic visa system (e-Visa) implementation, which is being piloted in Nigeria.
- Deployment of 5G C-Band wireless networks across the United States: The FAA has replied to a joint letter by AFRAA and other industry Associations on the deployment of 5G C-Band wireless networks across the US. The letter acknowledged the concerns raised by AFRAA and its partners but emphasized that it was imperative for the aviation industry to take urgent steps to improve aircraft radar altimeter resilience from known harmful interference. The FAA advised airlines to stay abreast of this situation by working directly with aircraft manufacturers and suppliers, who are best placed to assist them to retrofit their aircraft radar altimeters and continue safe operations in U.S. airspace beyond July 1, 2023.
- Some ICAO 41st Assembly Decisions/Conclusions
- Resolutions on LTAG and CORSIA: A resolution on a Long Term Aspirational Goal (LTAG) for carbon reduction and net-zero carbon emissions for international aviation by 2050 was adopted by the Assembly. The LTAG aligns international aviation with the Paris Agreement. The Assembly also reinforced its commitment to the CORSIA and increased its ambition by agreeing to stabilize emissions of international aviation at 85% of the 2019 level.
- Public health and pandemic preparedness: The Assembly approved IATA’s call for ICAO to conduct a review of the effectiveness of the multi-layered health measures introduced by governments during the COVID-19 pandemic and captured in the CART guidance and associate documentation. The guidance is largely unchanged since the start of the pandemic. However, based on lessons learned during the pandemic, it is clear that some measures were highly effective while others had no impact on the circulation of the virus but imposed significant costs on carriers. The review would be important as a foundation for developing a more proportionate and consistent risk management framework that was implemented during COVID-19.
- Accessibility: A resolution on passengers with disabilities was adopted and the Assembly agreed to establish a foundation for the development of harmonized accessibility measures under the ICAO leadership.
- Data Protection: An IATA WP/73 on the challenges facing airlines due to conflicting national data protection legislation and the absence of an agreed, consistent data protection framework that accounts for specificities of international air transport was adopted. The Committee agreed that the actions presented in the Executive Summary of WP/73 should be considered and assessed by the relevant ICAO Panels and working groups.
- Unruly and disruptive passengers: IATA WP/65 co-signed by IFALPA proposed three actions to deter unruly and disruptive passenger behavior onboard flights in the post-pandemic era. These are:
- The implementation of public awareness campaigns to ensure travelers are informed of what constitutes prohibited conduct and the legal and other sanctions as per Standards and Recommended Practices in Annex 9 – Facilitation;
- Ratification of the Montréal Protocol 2014 to remove any jurisdictional gaps; and
- The implementation of a civil and administrative penalties regime as outlined in ICAO Doc 10117.
- The Report of the Assembly noted that there was unanimous support for the substance and principles reflected in WP/65 and universal recognition of the need for States to keep their approach to responsiveness and deterrence measures for dealing with unruly and disruptive passengers under constant review.
- Gender and Equality: WP/67 was presented by IATA and IFALPA and positioned the industry’s 25by2025 initiative as a practical step towards achieving better gender equality and women’s representation across the aviation value chain. Many States applauded the 25by2025 initiative as an important step and an excellent example championed by the industry. The Final Report invites Member States to encourage their industry players to actively engage in IATA’s 25by2025 campaign as well as similar initiatives.