Africa’s aviation sector recovery prospects looking up

Tuesday November 23 2021

African carriers are on a recovery trajectory, having reopened 81.3 percent of their international routes. GRAPHIC | FILE | NMG


The aviation industry outlook is giving better prospects of recovery for African airlines compared with those in the Middle East and Europe.

An analysis by the African Airlines Association (AFRAA) shows African carriers are on a recovery trajectory, having reopened 81.3 percent of their international routes. Sub-regional growth, however, is varied.

The analysis further reveals that African airlines have been growing regional fleet since 2020, allowing a deeper market penetration. Cargo capacity has also grown by 33 percent since 2019, while cargo load factors improved by nine percent from pre-pandemic levels.

AFRAA’S Secretary General Abdérahmane Berthé, while speaking at the 53rd annual general assembly and summit held virtually on November 16 and 17, said the recovery is critical to redefining the industry’s strategic plans for the next five years.

Need to re-invent

He called on African governments and airlines to re-invent and redefine their business models for a quick industry recovery. This will involve financial support, implementing safe travel measures, using technology to define the “new normal” and removing travel restrictions.


Stakeholders resolved to convene with the African Union Commission, the African Civil Aviation Commission and the African Aviation Industry Group in March next year to address sustainability and competitiveness of the continent’s air transport.

At a different summit last month, African airlines executives gave recommendations for airline consolidation to improve service and save loss-making careers. They recommended the concept of “Air Afrique”, which means equity partnerships between airlines or across a group of investments, co-operation between airlines or the formation of a new common airline.

They also called for uniformed implementation of regulations and synergies between regulators, airlines and regional economic communities.

The Covid-19 pandemic cost the African aviation sector $8 billion revenue loss in 2020 and over seven million job losses.

The assembly called upon African governments to extend much-needed financial support to African airlines and the aviation industry.

“This year’s assembly provides an opportunity to rethink our industry and develop a resilient and sustainable perspective for the airline industry,” said Mr Berthé.