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African airlines’ see 67.3 pc increase in capacity amid challenges

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Despite the recent surge in Covid19 infection worldwide, African Airlines Association (AFRAA) has announced an increase in African airlines’ capacity.

The Airline Association has projected a 67.3 per cent increase in passenger volume compared to 2019, this with a traffic spike of 56 per cent.

The association also reports that flights in the domestic market remained bullish with the biggest share for both capacity and actual passenger carried.

“Domestic demand at 46.5 per cent outperformed intra-Africa and intercontinental which remained subdued at 31.3 per cent and 22.3 per cent for intra-Africa and intercontinental respectively,” the report read in part.

This comes just as the number of cases has been reported to be11.7 million in Africa. The recovery rate is 98.5 per cent worldwide compared to 97.7 in Africa following lifting of restrictions on covid lockdowns.

The Association also identified Five African airlines which continued their international routes expansion drive and had surpassed the number of international routes operated pre-Covid.

“10 other African airlines either re-opened suspended routes or launched new international routes. As of February 2022, African airlines had reinstated approximately 79.9 per cent of their pre-Covid international routes,” the report noted.

The Intra-African connectivity reached 72 per cent of the pre-covid level in February. It is estimated to increase to 75 per cent in March because of easing of anti-covid19 restrictions in several African countries.

New Routes

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In Algeria, connectivity increased due to the reopening of many destinations particularly to West Africa.

Ethiopian airlines, Royal Air Maroc and EgyptAir are among airlines that opened new routes to African destinations in the reporting period.

Across Africa in general, passenger traffic volumes remain depressed.

However, with the relaxation of lockdown and Covid-19 restrictions in many countries, traffic is set to rise. Airline revenues remained low with many operators battling with cash-flow issues.

Full year revenue loss for 2022 is estimated at US$4.7b, equivalent to 27.3% 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.

Fuel price hike

To add insult to injury, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine has triggered jet fuel price increases globally. In Africa, the jet fuel price hike is worrying and has the potential to slow down the travel recovery.

Platts estimates that the total impact of the price increases on the overall jet fuel bill will reach $86.3 billion based on an estimated average price of $115 per barrel.

In spite of encouraging vaccination, AFRAA has announced that States should not impose mandatory vaccination as a pre-entry and exit requirement for travel until satisfactory access to vaccines and reasonable vaccination coverage is attained.

The Airline Association urges governments to remove the PCR test requirements for fully vaccinated passengers.

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