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Air transport 2024 : African airlines make a comeback

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Air transport 2024 : African airlines make a comeback

In 2024, flight capacity rose by 6 % in available seats, compared to 15.1 million in May 2023. Overall, the continent’s airlines and major hubs are experiencing increased sales.

Africa’s dynamic aviation industry

African airlines recorded a 6 % increase in available seats, rising from 15.1 million in May 2023 to 15.9 million in May 2024. This growth is due to the introduction of new routes and increased flight frequencies. The aviation industry in Africa is starting 2024 dynamically, navigating various challenges and opportunities. The latest data from the Association of African Airlines (AFRAA) indicates strong demand for seats on all regional flights. « Despite persistent post-pandemic obstacles, the air transport sector has maintained its recovery momentum this year, testifying to a resurgence in passenger demand », mentioned a statement from AFRAA.

Free seat kilometer

Available Seat Kilometer (ASK) is a metric used to measure the capacity of an airline by combining the number of seats available with the distance flown. It enables comparison of offerings among different airlines. For instance, if an airline has 150 seats on a flight covering 1,000 kilometers, the ASK would be 150,000 (150 seats × 1,000 kilometers). This ratio provides a comprehensive indicator of passenger capacity over a specified period. This measure helps analysts to :

  • Compare airlines
  • Evaluate the capacity offered by an airline
  • Evaluate performance over different periods

Over the same period, available seat kilometers exceeded May 2023 levels by 12 %. The latest update shows that African carriers account for :

  • 35.4 % of intercontinental capacity
  • 48.7 % of international capacity

Regarding the breakdown of capacity between African and non-African operators on regional and intercontinental routes, AFRAA estimates a breakdown of 51.3 % and 48.7 %, respectively.

Flight capacity in Africa in 2024 compared with 2023

AFRAA projects a 15 % rise in passenger traffic for African carriers in 2024 compared to 2023, driving higher revenues across the board. For instance, in Kenya, African Airlines reported a notable 26 % increase in operating revenues, reaching 1.74 billion USD by March 2024, buoyed by the resurgence in global travel. Operating revenues encompass all core activities of a company, including ticket sales, baggage fees, freight, mail, aircraft operations, and related services.

Across Africa, intra-continental connectivity has strengthened, with significant hubs like Nairobi, Addis Ababa, and Abidjan experiencing increased bookings, particularly on intercontinental routes.

Better coordination of regulatory affairs in Africa

Across Africa, national airline regulatory authorities are actively studying, assessing, or implementing new regulations affecting foreign airlines. These developments are influencing airport business activities differently across the continent.

Nigeria : Hubs among the most expensive for foreign airlines

In Nigeria, the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) has expressed concerns over the adverse effects of high air taxes. Consequently, Nigerian airports are regarded as the most expensive globally for foreign airlines.

Kenya : VAT on aviation equipment and supplies

The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) is actively reviewing aviation regulatory projects aimed at enhancing safety and efficiency. However, concerns have arisen over the Kenyan government’s proposed Finance Bill 2024, which includes VAT on aviation equipment and supplies. This departure from global best practices, where aviation is typically exempt from VAT, is causing apprehension within the industry.

Egypt : Towards the deployment of sustainable aviation

Egypt is advancing significantly in sustainable aviation with Petrochemicals Holding leading the way. The company aims to establish Egypt’s inaugural sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) production facility by 2025.

South Africa : Obligation for foreign companies

Foreign operators in South Africa are urged to seek additional clarification from the BEE chambers regarding the relevance to their airlines. Moreover, the Department of Forestry, Fisheries, and Environment is revising aviation weather service tariffs for the upcoming three-year period, with new rates effective from April 2024 to March 2027.

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