While Africa remains the continent least-affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic, almost every nation now has confirmed cases of the disease and numbers are increasing. Health experts consider Africa as a whole to be a few weeks behind most of the rest of the world in terms of the spread of the disease.
Many countries have introduced travel restrictions and suspended flight operations due to the pandemic, with some having taken action early and pre-emptively implemented such measures.
According to Osprey Flight Solutions, the vast majority of countries have either closed their borders and barred foreign nationals from entry, or suspended international passenger flights, or both, in addition to implementing strict containment measures such as lockdowns.
This applies equally to those countries with most confirmed cases (South Africa, Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Cameroon and Tunisia) as well as those with relatively few instances. Despite these restrictions, cargo flights remain largely unaffected, as are some other categories of emergency or special flights.
In South Africa, which has the most cases on the continent and is currently subject to a strict lockdown, all air travel to, from and within the country has been suspended since 27 March. However, a significant number of repatriation flights are still taking place for foreign nationals stranded in the country.
Nigeria – which has relatively few cases for the most populous nation on the continent – has closed its borders until 23 April and all international flights have been suspended since 23 March; domestic flights have also been suspended.
Osprey warned in a bulletin today that aviation operators should anticipate further flight suspensions across Africa where they do not already exist, and extensions of those already implemented. “Be prepared to extend suitable accommodation and arrange secure ground transportation at short notice for crew unable to depart on schedule. The use of a ground handler, FBO, security provider or local staff is advised to ensure logistical access and ground transportation support at airports in Africa,” Osprey said.