Africa: High Ticket Cost, Travel Apathy Responsible for Low Traffic in Africa, Says AFRAA

13 June 2022

African Airlines Association (AFRAA) said that Africa passenger traffic volumes remain low because of the high-ticket cost and travel apathy, giving hope that with the continued relaxation of lockdown and Covid-19 restrictions in many countries, traffic would increase "as we approach the summer holiday peak season."

High fuel cost due to the Russia-Ukraine war and the fact that many African countries import petroleum product, including Nigeria, which is a major export of oil and gas, reflect the high international prices in the domestic airfares and this has driven up the fares.AFRAA said airline revenues remained low with many operators battling with cash-flow issues, adding that full year revenue loss for African airlines for 2022 is estimated at $4.1b, equivalent to 23.4% of the 2019 revenues.

"In 2021, African airlines cumulatively lost $8.6b in revenues due to the impact of the pandemic, representing 49.8% of 2019 revenues," AFRAA said.as a way of improving air travel in Africa, AFRAA stated that Chinese authorities have set out plans to ease Covid-19 restrictions in stages for a return to more normal life from 01 June 2022. But Eastern Asia and America are facing rising number of cases of COVID-19. Europe is envisaging a new wave of contamination due to two Omicron sub-variants and has initiated measures for closer surveillance.

"Worldwide, the cumulative number of Covid-19 cases has reached 523 million of which 12 million are in Africa. The global recovery rate is 98.8% compared to 97.9% in Africa."In other developments, average jet fuel price continues to rise globally, impacting on airlines operating costs. From the mid-May average price of 146.5/bbl, as Platts estimated the impact on airlines 2022 fuel bill is $121.1 billion."In the month of May 2022, AFRAA estimates that African airlines' capacity deployed reached 76.6% of 2019 capacity. Traffic recovery is now at 66.3% of 2019 pre-Covid level," the regional body said.AFRAA also observed that domestic markets remain dominant in both capacity and actual passenger carried.

"Domestic demand at 42.1% outperformed intra-Africa and intercontinental which remained subdued at 30.2% and 27.7% for intra-Africa and intercontinental respectively. The percentage of international routes operated by African airlines is estimated to reach an impressive 92.2% in May 2022 compared to Feb 2020, "it stated.

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