New routes and fresh optimism have prompted robust growth in Africa’s international flight arrivals this year according to the latest data from ForwardKeys, which predicts future global travel patterns by analysing more than 17 million booking transactions a day.
The figures were released today at AviaDev in Kigali, the premier aviation route development and hotel investment conferences in Africa, organised by Bench Global Business Events.
The ForwardKeys data reveal a 13.3 per cent increase in arrivals in 2017, compared to the equivalent period last year.
This was driven by a net increase of 82 routes and strong growth from the Americas, up 17.8 per cent, Europe, up 12.7 per cent, Africa, up 12.5 per cent and Asia Pacific, up 16.4 per cent.
Egypt and Tunisia are leading the recovery after the health and security concerns of 2014-16 have begun to fade.
Among the top ten destinations, visitor numbers to Morocco and Tunisia were further boosted by visa exemptions for Chinese travellers.
Jon Howell, managing director of AviaDev, said: “I am very pleased to see such strong growth in air travel to Africa.
“However, it is notable that consumer demand and airline investment has been greater in travel to African countries from outside the continent than it is between African countries.
“I would like to think that the discussions taking place at AviaDev will encourage airlines to open more routes within the Continent too.”
Looking in to the future, bookings for travel to Africa for the rest of 2017 (from September 21st to the end of the year) are 15.2 per cent ahead of last year, thanks to early bookings from the Americas, ahead 20.6 per cent, and Europe, ahead 16.4 per cent.
Asia Pacific is also sustaining its growth, ahead 16.1 per cent.
The relatively lower number for growth in bookings from the Middle East is unduly pessimistic because the Islamic New Year fell during the equivalent period last year, artificially lifting the benchmark.
In Africa as a whole, airlines’ scheduled capacity is up, led by international long-haul, up nine per cent.
Intra-African international capacity is up four per cent and domestic capacity up five per cent.
Among the top ten African airports, ranked by scheduled capacity from September 21st to the end of the year, nine airports show growth for domestic capacity and seven for international.
Durban suffered the biggest decrease in international capacity, down 19 per cent, mainly due to Ethiopian Airlines ceasing routes from Addis Ababa, while strengthening its capacity to Cape Town.
ForwardKeys co-founder Olivier Jager concluded: “African aviation is showing extremely healthy growth.
“As an international executive who has travelled around Africa for many years, I am longing for the day when it is easier to fly directly between African cities, as is possible on other continents.
“I am sure I’m not alone in that desire and I’m equally sure, if the strong growth continues, it will happen eventually.”