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Africa carriers beat Americas, European peers in traffic growth

Monday February 05 2024
planes

Airplanes parked at Grant County International Airport in Moses Lake in Washington DC, US on October 23, 2019. PHOTO | AFP

By EDNA MWENDA

African carriers’ traffic grew 38.7 percent in 2023, compared with the year before, ahead of Latin and North American and European airlines.

According to the International Air Transport Association (Iata) data, the year was marked by a strong industry-wide recovery, with a rebound of domestic and international travel.

“The full year 2023 capacity was up 38.3 percent and load factor climbed 0.2 percentage points to 71.9 per cent, the lowest among regions,” said Iata.

Traffic from Asia-Pacific airlines maintained the strongest year-over-year rate among the regions.

Read: African airlines to engage states on opening air space

“Despite political and economic challenges, 2023 saw air cargo markets regain ground lost in 2022 after the extraordinary Covid peak in 2021. Although full-year demand was shy of pre-Covid levels by 3.6 percent, the significant strengthening in the past quarter is a sign that markets are stabilising towards more normal demand patterns,” said Mr Willie Walsh, Iata director-general.

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“That puts the industry on a very solid ground for success in 2024. But, with continued —and in some cases intensifying — instability in geopolitics and economic forces, little should be taken for granted in the months ahead.”

The traffic posted by African airlines rose 9.5 percent in December 2023, compared with the same month in 2022. The poor quality of road networks and lack of railways in many African countries often make air transport the practical choice for cargo, too.

Air travel is one of the most widely used, versatile and advantageous modes of transport compared with other options like road, water and railway. Within the logistics sector, air transport has been gaining ground and becoming one of the most demanded and used transport options.

European airlines’ full-year traffic climbed 22 percent with a capacity to increase 17.5 percent, while Middle Eastern airlines’ passenger traffic grew by 33.3 per cent during the period under review.

Read: Closed markets, high costs hurting Africa airlines more

Asia-Pacific airlines posted the strongest growth year-on-year at 126.1 per cent as capacity rose 101.8 per cent and the load factor climbed 9 per cent to 83.1 per cent.

North American carriers reported a 28.3 per cent annual traffic rise last year with a capacity increase of 22.4 per cent while airlines operating in the Latin American market posted a 28.6 percent traffic rise and an annual capacity growth of 25.4 percent.

Africa contributes only 2.1 percent of total passenger traffic market shares by region behind Asia-Pacific at 22.1 percent, Europe (30.8 percent), North America (28.8 percent), Middle East (9.8 percent) and Latin America (6.4 percent).

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