The temporary grounding of Africa United Airlines, which was set to play a key role in Gabon’s aviation industry and tourism sector, has had significant ramifications.
The airline had to suspend its operations due to regulatory concerns, specifically, the modification of its ‘Air carrier’ certificate to include the CRJ 200 device in the Gabonese civil aviation register. Although this adjustment has disrupted the airline’s operations, it is expected to resume flights once the regulatory process is completed.
The suspension of Africa United Airlines has particularly impacted the tourism industry in Gabon. It has led to a decrease in tourist arrivals, causing vacant hotels and negatively affecting tourism-related businesses. This situation is unfortunate, considering that Gabon’s tourism sector was in the process of recovery following the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The nation had seen a significant influx of tourists in the first three quarters of 2023, including a notable number of American tourists.
Major hotel chains like Isrotel and InterContinental Hotels have reported a significant decline in occupancy rates, leading to temporary closures. This drop in tourist arrivals and hotel occupancy has dealt a severe blow to the tourism industry, which is a vital contributor to Gabon’s GDP and employment.