African carriers to carry 98 million passengers in 2024, revenue rises to $1.83 billion in Jan

  • Ghana proposes $20 passenger fee as Kotoka, 39 nations commit to SAATM



African Airline Association (AFRAA), the umbrella body for the continent’s airlines has estimated that carriers from the region will carry about 98 million passengers in 2024, describing it as a year of recovery.

It noted that the continent’s airline operations have exceeded pre-Covid levels both in terms of capacity and traffic carried, stressing that the number of seats offered in the region increased by 12.6%, from 14.3 million in March 2019 to 16.1 million in March 2024, thanks to new routes and frequencies added.

Over the same period, ASKs also exceeded the level of March 2019 by 7.7%. African carriers accounted for 49.5% of the international capacity and 35.9% of the intercontinental capacity.

In terms of the capacity split between African and non-African operators on both regional and intercontinental routes, AFRAA estimated 50.7% and 49.3% respectively.

Further disaggregation of capacity on only the intercontinental routes reveals a much lower share of 35.7% for Africa as against 64.3% for non-African operators.

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Though continent-wide intra-African connectivity exceeded pre-Covid level since December 2022, major hubs like Johannesburg and Casablanca are yet to reach 2019 levels.

Similar to traffic growth, African airlines are also seeing improved revenue performance. AFRAA estimated revenue for January 2024 was $ 1.83 billion compared to $1.56 billion in November 2023 indicating a revenue growth of 14.75%.

Consequently, the global price of Jet A1 continues to fluctuate from week to week. The global average jet A1 price ended the week of  March 22,  2024, up 1.1% at $109.08/bbl.

In a related development, Air Traffic and Navigational Services (ATNS) in South Africa implemented the revised Air Traffic Service Charges effective May 1, 2024. These charges were reviewed and approved by the regulator.

A proposed $20 per passenger fee at Kotoka International Airport (KIA) in Accra, Ghana to cover airport maintenance works and baggage belt repairs, without following due process attracted condemnation by operators and the industry.

While there is a need for investment in infrastructure to meet growing demand, AFRAA advocated strict adherence by all service providers to the stipulated ICAO principles contained in DOC9082.  Following intervention by the parliament of Ghana, levying of the proposed fee has been suspended.

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Airplanes Africa Limited (AAL) has achieved a commendable feat by assembling the first Skyleader 600 aircraft in Tanzania. This. AFRAA said could mark the beginning of Africa’s venture into aircraft assembly and components manufacture.

On the Single Africa Air Transport Market (SAATM), Uganda has reaffirmed its commitment to signing the SAATM solemn commitment. If done, this will bring to 39 African States that have committed to opening up their markets.

Similarly, internal discussions are ongoing in Tanzania on their commitment to SAATM. If the two countries join, EAC will boast a big domestic market for air travel.

Open skies will boost intra-African connectivity, drive down airfares, and stimulate air traffic and revenue growth across the continent as well as create jobs.

Sierra Leone CAA’s Consumer Protection Unit has reached out to her ECOWAS partners in the Consumer Protection industry to harmonies the positions to safeguard the sub-region consumer interest in civil aviation.

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Striking a balance between protecting passenger rights and ensuring sustainable air services is crucial for a healthy aviation industry.

Ecuador has made positive strides with a new Tourism Law which eliminates currency repatriation tax and reduces the 5% jet-fuel tax by 1% annually over the next five years.

The African Continent can emulate this gradual tax reduction model of Ecuador to reduce some of the burdensome taxes that are hampering aviation development on the continent.

Meanwhile, the ICAO and the Aviation Working Group (AWG) are collaborating to enhance cross-border aircraft transferability by promoting compliance with the Cape Town Convention.

This, it noted would improve efficiency and safety in the aircraft leasing and financing sector and AFRAA commends the two organisations for the initiative.

Wole Shadare