DATA: What are the Fastest Growing Airlines in North Africa?

Ahead of this year's inaugural Routes Middle East and Africa forum, Routesonline is providing a snapshot on the leading airlines and airports and most used aircraft types across the region. Here we look closely at the airlines serving North Africa and highlight the region's top performers.

The data is all supplied by OAG Aviation using its OAG Schedules Analyser tool.

Scheduled Air Capacity From North Africa (2005 - 2014)

Our analysis of published schedules for the past ten years shows that air capacity within and from Western Europe has risen from 27,878,875 available seats in 2005 to 47,568,029 available seats in 2014. This represents a growth of 70.6 per cent across the period, an average annual increase of 7.8 per cent. In the past year capacity increased 1.0 per cent.

Top Ten Airlines in the North African Market (2014)

The legacy state-controlled North African network carriers continue to dominate in the local market but airlines from outside the region are growing, including Europe’s largest low-cost carriers thanks to network growth into this part of Africa.

EgyptAir leads the way with a 17.4 per cent share of available capacity within and from North Africa in 2014, ahead of Royal Air Maroc (12.0 per cent), Air Algerie (10.1 percent) and Tunisair (6.6 per cent). Libyan Airlines completed the top five last year with a 3.8 per cent share, down 4.7 per cent on the previous year having been significantly impacted by ongoing political instability.

Saudi Arabian Airlines is the largest operator outside of North Africa to serve this region thanks to ongoing network expansion in the area, while easyJet and Ryanair make the top ten list due to their own operations across North Africa. Aigle Azur’s strong network between Morocco and France mean it too is among the top ten airlines in the region.

Fastest Growing Airlines in the North African Market (2010-2014)

Looking at capacity data in the region across a five year period, it is Saudi Arabian low-cost carrier Nas Air that has grown capacity by the biggest margin with capacity up 86.9 per cent from 2010. Notable growth during this timescale was recorded by Saudi Arabia’s state airline Saudia (up 49.5 per cent), while Libyan Airlines (up 35.8 per cent) was the fastest growing of airline domiciled in the region.

Turkish Airlines was the fastest growing network carrier within and from North Africa by capacity between 2010 and 2014 (up 66.0 per cent), while Air France reported the biggest fall in capacity among the top 20 operators (down 19.0 per cent) as it began to move some of its capacity to other operators within the group, most notably low-cost business Transavia France.

Data comparison between 2013 and 2014 shows that one carrier among the top ten airlines serving the region by capacity has grown considerably versus others’ modest growth or departure capacity declines. Saudi Arabia national carrier Saudia has boosted capacity into North Africa by almost a fifth (19.3 per cent) over the analysis period: it was the only airline among the ten largest carriers in the region to report double-digit year-on-year growth.

Only two of the top five carriers by 2014 departure capacity reported a growth in seats between 2013 and 2014 and then only modest rises of 1.6 per cent at Air Algerie and 0.5 per cent at Royal Air Maroc, while notable capacity declines in North Africa amongst the top ten carriers included Aigle Azur (down 10.1 per cent) and Tunisair (down 8.3 per cent).

Looking at the wider top twenty airlines in the region it is a Russian airline that recorded the largest year-on-year capacity growth within the region between 2013 and 2014. Transaero Airlines has grown capacity 58.5 per cent between the two years as it has grown its activities in North Africa, following a significant capacity reduction into the area in 2013. The importance of trade between Saudi Arabia and North Africa is again clear as low-cost carrier Nas Air grew capacity 24.5 per cent, while double-digit growth was also recorded by Transavia France, the Dutch carrier’s French airline business (up 18.1 per cent).

UK leisure carrier Thomson Airways reported the largest decline in capacity in 2014 versus 2013 within and from North Africa (down 35.4 per cent) after rapid growth in 2013, while its Belgian sister business Jetairfly reduced capacity by 11.8 per cent. Air France (down 11.8 per cent, part due to growth at Transavia France), Air Arabia Maroc (down 11.4 per cent), and Aigle Azur (down 10.1 per cent) also reduced capacity in the region by double-digits between 2013 and 2014.

Scheduled North African Capacity by Aircraft Type

The chart below shows which aircraft types were most prevalent in the North African market during 2014. The schedule data shows the Airbus A320 (320) is the most widely used aircraft type in this market with a 22.2 per cent share of available seats with overall network capacity down 6.4 per cent between 2013 and 2014 to just over 10.5 million departure seats.

The second most utilised aircraft type in this market is the Boeing 737-800 (738) with a 22.0 per cent share, down 4.9 per cent in 2014, while the third most widely operated type by network capacity is the Airbus A319 (319) with a 5.4 per cent share, down 2.1 per cent.

The biggest rises in annual capacity among the top ten aircraft types were recorded by the Airbus A320 Sharklets (32A) with a 49.5 per cent rise in available seats in 2014 versus 2013: the year it made its first flights from the region; and the Boeing 737-800 Winglets (73H) with a 44.7 per cent rise. This highlights the increasing usage of more modern and efficient airliners in the North African market. The largest decline in annual capacity was recorded by the Embraer 170 (E70) with a fall of 18.8 per cent versus 2013.

Richard Maslen

Richard Maslen has travelled across the globe to report on developments in the aviation sector as airlines and airports have continued to evolve and…