Africa’s Airlines Face ‘Travel Apathy’ As They Restore Service

Credit: David Silverman / Getty Images

African airlines operated around 76.6% of their 2019 capacity in the month of May, but traffic lagged at 66.3% of pre-COVID levels.

“Generally across Africa, passenger traffic volumes remain low because of the high ticket cost and travel apathy,” the African Airlines Association (AFRAA) said in an update providing May traffic figures. “It is hoped that with the continued relaxation of lockdown and COVID-19 restrictions in many countries, traffic will increase as we approach the summer holiday peak season,”

Domestic and intra-African services are recovering faster than intercontinental flights, with 27 African states removing COVID testing requirements for fully vaccinated passengers. However, many African airlines are battling cash-flow issues, made worse by spiraling jet fuel prices.

According to AFRAA, domestic markets “remain dominant in both capacity and actual passengers carried.”

But there are signs that African airlines are ramping up international flying. “The percentage of international routes operated by African airlines is estimated to [have reached] an impressive 92.2% in May 2022 compared to Feb 2020,” AFRAA stated.

The intra-Africa passenger traffic recovery was estimated at 74% in May, boosted by the easing of COVID-19 restrictions in several African countries.

AFRAA represents 44 airlines across the continent, including all of Africa’s major intercontinental operators.

Victoria Moores

Victoria Moores joined Air Transport World as our London-based European Editor/Bureau Chief on 18 June 2012. Victoria has nearly 20 years’ aviation industry experience, spanning airline ground operations, analytical, journalism and communications roles.