Africa World Airlines sets pace for post Covid-19 flights


Global aviation is on its knees. Every other day we are waking up to the news of another airline being admitted into the intensive care unit as a result of the Covid19. In Africa a number of airlines are in need of the lifesaving ventilators and some have already succumbed to the novel virus.

In April Ghana announced plans to lift the lockdown. The West African country had been under lockdown for 3 weeks before the lockdown was lifted. Domestic travel was among the relaxed measures that saw both Passion Air and Africa World Airlines resuming domestic flights.

Ghana’s leading carrier Africa World Airlines (AWA) immediately announced plans to resume flights from 21 April between Accra, Kumasi and Tamale. As commercial flights return, they are doing so to a new set of health regulations and requirements.

Ghana’s Minister of Aviation Kofi Adda (back) and Sean Mendes COO of Africa World Airlines PC: AWA

In fighting the Covid19, social distancing has been one of the most effective tools. Its effectiveness meant it be implemented in all public areas from grocery stores to public transport. AWA announced a number of health protocols that the airline will be implementing upon restart of their domestic flight.
The measures announced include mandatory temperature checks at check-in, wearing of a mask at all times during flights and suspension of on-board service including the lavatory. The West African airline operates an all Embraer E145 fleet and have introduced social distancing on-board leaving the middle seat unoccupied at all times.

AWA announced a first for Africa. All passengers will be required to wear a mask and sanitize all baggage. Crew and passengers will have their hands sanitized at the boarding gate. Sean Mendis AWA Chief Operations Officer said “the aircraft will be sprayed upon each return to Accra, and high risk surfaces such as tray tables, side walls, and windows will be wiped down by cleaning staff to minimize cross-contamination risk”. No doubt the measures that AWA have introduced will from the standard that African airlines will have to match.

Luggages being disinfected upon arrival at the Kumasi Airport

Aviation is a business of razor thin margins. The introduction of these new health hygiene protocols comes at a cost. Ogaga Udjo the CEO of ZA Logics said “the cost can either be absorbed by the entity fully or it can be passed on to the customer or it can be a mixture of both where the airline will subsidise and a piece is added to the customer”.

African airlines were already cash strapped before the Covid19 pandemic. Additional hygienic protocols and the expected low demand post-covid, will put extra pressure on the airlines finances. This brings us back to the calls by various aviation bodies for governments to financially support the aviation industry.

The cabin being disinfected before a flight PC:AWA

Ogaga Udjo added that in the African context South African airline “SafAir have been progressive in their efforts, they have introduced social distancing protocols and they have also added a ZAR20.00 fee to help them manage this process.”

While Air Namibia have announced resumption of domestic service from 6 May the airline is yet to announce its new hygiene protocols. One way or the other, airlines will have to find ways of disinfecting the aluminium tube periodically to reduce cross contamination.

Aviation prides itself as the safest transportation mode. Post-Covid airlines will need to come up with new ways of ensuring passenger safety on-board and encourage people to fly. Africa World Airlines have taken great strides in ensuring passenger safety with new hygienic protocols. It remains to be seen how other African airlines will operate once restrictions are lifted.

Author: Nunurai Ndawana

About the author: Nunurai Ndawana is the founder of Just African Aviation. He can be contacted on Twitter on @nunuraindawana and email on


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