Most of Africa's top ten airports are seeing a healthy growth in capacity, which is more international than it is domestic. According to predictions for future travel patterns, there is a double digit growth in flight arrivals for the first half of this year and little indication that the pace of growth will slow down soon.
According to a report produced by ForwardKeys, in the first seven months of the year, 1st Jan – 31st July 2017, total international flight arrivals grew by 14.0% over the same period in 2016. Most significantly, growth was stronger for travel to and from the continent than within the continent. Arrivals from Europe, which make up 46% of the market, were up 13.2%. From the Americas, arrivals were up 17.6%; from the Middle East, they were up 14.0% and from Asia Pacific, they were up 18.4%. By comparison, intra-African air travel, which makes up 26% of the market, was up 12.6%.
Looking at Africa’s top ten destination countries, there have been stand-out performances from Tunisia and Egypt, which are recovering from notorious terrorist attacks two years ago, up 33.5% and 24.8% respectively. In addition, Morocco and Tunisia received a huge boost in arrivals from China, up 450% and 250% respectively, after they relaxed visa restrictions. The one disappointment is Nigeria, which has seen a 0.8% drop, in the wake of recession in 2016, caused by a collapse in the oil price to a 13-year low.
Looking forward to the end of the calendar year, bookings for flights to Africa are currently 16.8% ahead of where they were on July 31st, 2016. Bookings from Europe are currently 17.5% ahead, from the Americas 26.6% ahead, from Asia Pacific 11.5% ahead, from the Middle East 8.2% ahead and bookings for intra-African air travel are 11.0% ahead.
A specific look at East Africa shows very similar trends in year to date performance and outlook to the end of the year. However, it has stronger forward bookings from Europe, 22.9% ahead and less strong forward bookings from elsewhere; the Americas are 15.5% ahead and intra-African air travel 7.6% ahead. However, bookings from the Middle East and Asia Pacific are 6.0% and 3.8% behind respectively.
On an individual airport level, the most significant capacity increase in East Africa is at Kigali, with new routes to Brussels, London and Mumbai. Other notable new capacity includes Kilimanjaro to Dubai and Nairobi to Muscat and to Yemen.