Fana: At a Speed of Life!

African airlines see 20.7% year-on-year international traffic growth

Addis Ababa, April 6, 2024 (FBC) – Airlines across Africa are reaping the rewards of increased demand, with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) reporting an increase of 20.7% in passenger traffic compared to this time last year. The collection of carriers includes, but is not limited to, Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Air Senegal and Egypt Airlines.

African Airlines are surging forward with the expansion, which has seen capacity grow by 22.1% yearly, catapulting the continent’s aviation scene into a new realm. The growth has been expected as the world continues its post-pandemic thaw, and Africa’s numbers add to the 5.7% global increase in passenger numbers seen in February this year.

While demand and capacity are up, there is a slight increase in overall load factors across Africa, with a slight decrease in numbers seeing the region reach just 74%, a drop compared to the previous year.

Ex International Airlines Group boss and now IATA’s Director General Willie Walsh remains optimistic about travel across Africa. Walsh reiterates the positive momentum the region is seeing. Growth will be expected as more people look to travel, and accelerated investment in airports and airlines, and ‘resilient passenger demand’, Simple Flying noted, citing Nairametrics.

Walsh did, however, make it clear that the continued imposition of new taxes across Europe could be detrimental to growth not just in Africa but across the aviation industry and could lead to increases in airline ticket costs.

Across Africa, domestic operations surpassed 13.7% growth compared to pre-pandemic levels, and between 2023 and 2024, there were 15% more operations. This was driven by strong demand over the Lunar New Year Period (however, it remains in the shadows compared to China during this time, which saw an increase of 31.5%).

Looking internationally, when compared to February 2019, an increase of 0.9% was seen, with annual growth for international operations reaching over 26.3%. Operations towards Asia and the Pacific led the spike, with demand for travel between those regions and Africa witnessing demand surpassing 53.2%. For those destined for South America, growth between Africa and the likes of Sao Paulo contributed to a 21% increase in travel between the two continents.

Ethiopian Airlines, from its base at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport (ADD), maintains its status as the continent’s largest airline. The airline is expected to operate up to 78 destinations across the African continent this year, adding Freetown, Sierra Leone, in May and Maun Botswana in June.

For international travelers heading towards North America, the carrier already serves up to 37 weekly flights between Ethiopia and the likes of Washington, Chicago, Toronto, Newark, Atlanta, and New York JFK. However, further growth is expected. Last November, the Ethiopian’s CCO disclosed that two additional North American passenger destinations will be added “per year over the next few years.” He said Denver, Minneapolis, Seattle, Houston, and Montreal are coming.

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