CAIRO: Egypt has granted EgyptAir Holding Co. a loan of 2 billion Egyptian pounds ($130 million) to help the national flag carrier ride the devastating financial impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic on the sector.
The Egyptian government will bear the financing of the loan until the airline can return to 80 percent of its pre-COVID-19 capacity.
Egypt’s Minister of Finance Mohamed Maait said the loan was part of the government’s wider support for the country’s beleaguered industrial sector.
He added that the government had so far given 10 billion pounds of support in the form of reduced gas and electricity prices, according to Egyptian newspaper Al-Shorouk.
Maait pointed out that the funding for the airline was necessary in order for it to survive.
“(Airlines) have incurred a total of $651 billion in debts,” the minister was reported as saying, adding that the sector may not fully recover from the impact of the global health crisis until 2024.
Passenger airline traffic in the Middle East showed signs of improvement in October. Figures released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) revealed that the number of people flying on regional airlines during the month was down 86.7 percent year-on-year compared to the same month in 2019, slightly better than the 89.3 percent drop in demand for September.
Globally, traffic was down 70.6 percent compared to October 2019, again a marginal improvement on the 72.2 percent year-to-year slump in September.
Alexandre de Juniac, the IATA’s director general and CEO, said: “While the pace of recovery is faster in some regions than others, the overall picture for international travel is grim.”
Muhammad Ali Albakri, IATA regional vice president for the Middle East and Africa, told Arab News in November that Saudi Arabia and the Middle East would feel the economic impact of COVID-19 on the aviation sector for many years to come.