In a recent report presented at the Focus Africa Conference in Addis Ababa, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced a significant surge in Nigeria’s passenger traffic and seat capacity, surpassing levels seen in 2019 by nearly 60 percent. This remarkable growth follows the positive momentum observed in the final quarter of 2022.
During the conference, which brought together over 400 aviation leaders and stakeholders, various critical issues affecting air travel and cargo transportation in Africa were addressed. Safety, regulation, sustainability, trade, and economic growth were among the topics discussed.
The IATA’s report revealed that African airlines experienced an impressive 87.1 percent year-on-year growth in revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) during the first quarter of 2023, with RPKs only 9.4 percent lower than those recorded in 2019.
Analyzing the origin-destination passenger traffic and airline-scheduled seat capacity in specific countries, the report highlighted divergent outcomes across Africa. In Northern Africa, Egypt and Morocco saw substantial increases of 29 percent and 20 percent, respectively, in passenger traffic compared to the same period in 2019. Egypt’s airline capacity also matched the rise in passenger traffic, growing by 30 percent. Meanwhile, in Eastern Africa, Ethiopia witnessed passenger and airline seat levels that were 19 percent and 14 percent above pre-pandemic figures, respectively.
However, Southern Africa faced longstanding structural and profitability challenges, impacting aviation markets in the region. South Africa, in particular, saw Q1 2023 passenger numbers remain 12 percent below 2019 levels, with scheduled seats even further behind at 27 percent below. Despite these setbacks, the market showed significant improvement compared to the previous quarter in 2022.
The report emphasized that Africa’s impressive rebound in air traffic was accompanied by enhanced connectivity and increased competition among airlines in the region. To fully leverage aviation’s contribution to economic development, IATA stressed the need to intensify efforts to liberalize aviation in Africa.
The positive growth in Nigeria’s passenger traffic and seat capacity indicates a promising recovery for the aviation industry in the country. As air travel continues to rebound across Africa, stakeholders and industry players are optimistic about the potential for sustained growth and economic prosperity in the region.