Air transport is a major economic and social benefit generator for Ethiopia. In 2019, it contributed $4.2 billion to the country's GDP and its aviation sector, which employed 19,000 people, supported more than 1.3 million jobs across the economy.
Ethiopia is one of the African countries best equipped to quickly return to pre-pandemic traffic levels. At least that is what the International Air Transport Association (IATA) thinks.
In a statement issued Wednesday, September 22, the institution notes that "Ethiopia is performing above the African continent's average demand for air transport services and has made progress in the recovery."
Passenger traffic to, from, and within Ethiopia in June 2021 was 30% lower than in June 2019, a significant improvement over the 47% decline in January 2021 compared to January 2019; Ethiopia's performance in June was well above the -66.6% (compared to 2019) recorded for the African continent; passenger demand is expected to return to pre-Covid levels by 2023.
"We commend Ethiopia for the positive steps it has taken to promote travel and air service connectivity throughout the pandemic.
This includes accepting vaccinated travelers without restriction, managing the cost of PCR testing to ensure it is affordable, and implementing a testing regime that accepts both PCR and rapid antigen tests.
These measures should accelerate Ethiopia's recovery, not only for air transport, but for the economy as a whole," said Kamil Alawadhi, IATA regional vice president for Africa and the Middle East.
For an even quicker recovery, IATA - which represents some 290 airlines accounting for 82% of global air traffic - has called on the Ethiopian government to continue to focus on maintaining air connectivity.
To do so, it suggests implementing three key priorities: digitization of health certificates:
The African Union's Trusted Travel Pass and the IATA Travel Pass are both tools that can help governments efficiently and conveniently verify travelers' health information; the release of blocked funds: approximately $59 million (as of August) of airline funds are prevented from being repatriated to Ethiopia; and the implementation of the Single Market for African Air Transport (MUTAA).
"The full implementation of MUTAA across the continent would generate significant economic benefits for Ethiopia, namely the creation of 21,000 new jobs and the addition of $81.8 million to GDP," IATA estimates.