The indirect opportunity for connectivity in Africa

The number of international passengers making indirect flights to African destinations is as big as the international markets of five of the world’s key airports. Speaking at the Routes Africa 2016 event in Tenerife, Canary Islands on the importance of data in winning new routes, ASM senior vice president Tony Griffin said about 90 million international passengers flew to the continent in 2015. Of these passengers 34 percent, about 31 million flyers, had to make indirect journeys to get to their final destination.

Griffin said this was the equivalent of the total annual international traffic for Franz Josef Strauss International Airport, Munich, Barcelona International Airport, John F Kennedy International Airport, Rome Fiumicino Airport and Narita International Airport.

The statistic was just one of many that he produced in a talk on data which showed the facts and figures are there for airlines and airports wanting to make a case for strong route development.

Other facts he revealed include of the 60 million passengers flying directly to African destinations, more than 40 million do so to northern Africa. Meanwhile, South Africa accounts for 81% of southern Africa’s 3.7 million direct flights. “Southern and northern Africa are outperforming, eastern and western Africa are under performing,” he said.

Other figures Griffin revealed included a list of the top ten city pairs for African cities. The number one – Johannesburg - London Heathrow – had 316,191 direct passengers but a further 129,164 indirect passengers. “From a route development perspective, that for me signifies there is an opportunity for a carrier to serve that route directly,” he added.

The second biggest route, Lagos - London Heathrow, had 335,060 direct passengers compared to 104,116 indirect passengers while number three, Cape Town - London Heathrow, saw 206,582 direct passengers with nearly half as many, 100,461, flying indirect.

Griffin said of the top ten city pairs in total, 2.41 million are able to make direct flights compared to 909,444 who are forced to make more than one flight. “That points to me to be an opportunity for additional services… and space for additional carriers to serve those routes,” he added.

Of the top ten indirect connecting points, Dubai is the most popular serving city with four million while Paris Charles de Gaulle is second with a little more than two million, just pipping Johannesburg OR Tambo International Airport. Istanbul Ataturk and Doha's Hamad International form the other two of the top five connecting points.

Of the $26.5 billion generated in revenues during the period by international traffic to Africa, more than half, $14 billion, generated by the indirect market compared to $12.5 billion direct.

While the data is vital to win the route development argument, Griffin also had a few tips as to how airports can best present it to airlines to persuade them to launch a new route. He said airports should keep the information succinct to make a bigger impact, keep it clear and simple, provide information about connectivity and always consider the airline’s biggest question, “Why should I fly to your airport?”

Edward Robertson

With over ten years of experience writing for the travel trade, Ed was appointed Editor of Routes News in early 2016 and has overseen its relaunch…