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Algeria sees state carrier's losses from coronavirus at $272 mln this year

07/19/2020 | 04:50am EDT
An Air Algerie Boeing 737-8b6 plane is seen on the tarmac at the Lyon-Saint-Exupery airport in Colombier-Saugnieu near Lyon

Algeria, already under financial pressure after a fall in energy earnings, expects state carrier Air Algerie's losses from the coronavirus pandemic to reach 35 billion dinars ($272 million) this year, the government said on Saturday.

It said all other sectors have suffered losses due to movement restrictions and lockdowns aimed at limiting the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Air Algerie suspended both external and domestic operations in March before operating some emergency flights mainly from Europe, Turkey and Gulf countries.

That suspension caused losses estimated at 16.31 billion dinars by April, a figure that may climb to 35 billion by the end of the year, Finance Minister Ayman Benabderrahmane told a meeting with businessmen and unions.

President Abdelmadjid Tebboune has said air, sea and land borders would remain closed until the end of the health crisis.

The meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad, was intended to set up a commission with the aim of evaluating overall economic losses from restrictions linked to the virus.

"The state has taken preventive measures to cope with the health crisis. These measures have seriously affected the national economy," Djerad told the meeting.

He cited energy, construction, public works and transport as the main sectors that have suffered since the government started imposing restrictions in mid-March.

OPEC member and gas-exporting Algeria has already announced public spending cuts and delayed planned investment projects for this year in sectors including energy to ease the impact of lower oil prices.

"Algeria is facing an unprecedented economic situation," Djerad said.

(Reporting by Hamid Ould Ahmed; Editing by David Holmes)

By Hamid Ould Ahmed

ę Reuters 2020
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