African airlines’ traffic is now at around two thirds of the 2019 pre-Covid level, according to the African Airlines Association (AFRAA).

Looking at the latest figures released for May 2022, AFRAA estimated that African airlines’ capacity deployed reached 76.6 per cent of 2019 capacity, while traffic recovery is now at 66.3 per cent.

Domestic demand

Domestic markets remain dominant in both capacity and actual passenger carried, AFRAA said.

Domestic demand at 42.1 per cent outperformed intra-Africa and intercontinental, which remained subdued at 30.2 per cent and 27.7 per cent respectively.

The percentage of international routes operated by African airlines is estimated to have reached 92.2 per cent in May 2022, compared to Feb 2020.

Intra-African traffic

The Intra-African passenger traffic recovery is estimated at 74 per cent in May due to the easing of Covid-19 restrictions in several African countries.

But across Africa, passenger traffic volumes remain low because of high ticket costs and travel apathy, AFRAA said.

It is hoped that with the continued relaxation of lockdown and Covid-19 restrictions in many countries, traffic will increase ahead of the summer holiday peak season.

Cash-flow issues

Airline revenues remained low with many operators battling with cash-flow issues. Full year revenue loss for African airlines for 2022 is estimated at US$4.1 billion, equivalent to 23.4 per cent of the 2019 revenues.

In 2021, African airlines cumulatively lost $8.6 billion in revenues due to the impact of the pandemic, representing 49.8 per cent of 2019 revenues.
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