African passenger traffic is set to rise but the recovery may be hit by the recent spike in jet fuel prices, says the African Airlines Association (AFRAA) in its latest report.
In a statement released by the association, passenger traffic volumes across Africa have remained depressed, however the sector is making ground in its recovery.
In March 2022, African airlines’ capacity reached 67.3% and traffic 56% compared to the same month in 2019, according to AFRAA estimates.
AFRAA estimates the sector revenues will fall by $4.7 billion compared to 2019 levels. In 2021, revenue for African airlines fell by $8.6 billion compared to 2019 levels.
“In Africa, the jet fuel price hike is worrying and has the potential to slow down the travel recovery,” the association commented. “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.”
Travel in and across Africa is continuing to make a steady recovery towards pre-covid levels.
In February 2022, intra-African connectivity reached 72% of pre-covid levels. AFRAA estimates that this will increase to 75% in March 2022 as travel restrictions continue to ease across several African states.
Domestic traffic in Africa accounted for the largest share of capacity and passengers carried on the continent. This is in comparison to intra-Africa traffic (flights from one African country to another African country) and intercontinental traffic (flights to and from an African country to a destination outside Africa).
According to AFRAA: “domestic demand at 46.5% outperformed intra-Africa and intercontinental [demand] which remained subdued at 31.3% and 22.3% for intra-Africa and intercontinental respectively.”
However, African airlines made significant ground in expanding their international operations. In February 2022 African airlines “reinstated approximately 79.9% of their pre-Covid international routes,” according to the report.
“Five African airlines continued their international routes expansion drive and had surpassed the number of international routes operated pre-Covid,” added AFRAA.
AFRAA also said that 10 other African airlines either re-opened suspended routes or launched new international routes.