The African nations have lost around $55 billion in travel and tourism revenues in three months due to the coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic, the African Union (AU) commissioner for infrastructure and energy mentioned on Thursday.

Amani Abou-Zeid told in a news conference that the economic impact of the lockdowns and closure of borders for containing the spread of the coronavirus will be severe, with the continent's air industry hit particularly hard.

She said tourism and travel represented almost 10 percent of the gross domestic product of Africa. "We have 24 million African families whose livelihood is linked to travel and tourism," Abou-Zeid said, adding the downturn had come in a year when Africa was expected to see an increase in travel and air transport.

Africa Tourism Hit by COVID-19

Coronavirus
Doctors speak with cured novel coronavirus pneumonia patients in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, Feb. 6, 2020. A total of 23 novel coronavirus pneumonia patients were cured and discharged from hospital on Thursday after integrated treatment with traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and Western medicine. (Xinhua/Li He/IANS) Xinhua/IANS

"The blow is very hard, between the economic losses and the job losses," Abou-Zeid said. African airlines have seen a 95 percent drop in revenues, or about $8 billion, along with other losses such as the deterioration of assets, she said.

"Some airlines in the continent will not make it post-COVID-19," she said, adding the blow came at a time when some airlines were in the early stages of development, while others, such as South African Airways, were in difficulties even before the pandemic. Abou-Zeid said more resistant carriers such as Ethiopian Airlines were using the opportunity to acquire smaller struggling companies, but the outbreak had put a halt to the AU's plan for a single African air transport market.

Prosper Zo'o Minto'o, regional director for the International Civil Aviation Organization, told the news conference that African airlines would need an estimated $20 billion to resume operations. Ivory Coast's national airline Air Cote d'Ivoire, which restarted domestic flights on Friday, said it had received 14 billion CFA francs ($24 million) from the government to keep it afloat.

(With agency inputs)