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Industry trends, on the fly

on the fly: Which are Africa’s busiest airlines?

May 30, 2023

A look at the untapped opportunities offered by Africa.

Analytics on the fly

on the fly: Which are Africa’s busiest airlines?


Did you know that global airlines that currently ignore Africa might be missing out on a large opportunity? Africa is home to over a billion people, and many of them live in fast-growing, youthful countries with valuable natural resources.

Airlines that serve Africa have a large customer base, with oil and gas companies being major clients. The continent is also rich in tourist traffic, especially in northern African countries that are just a short flight away from Europe or the Middle East. Additionally, many people travel to Africa to visit friends and family. Staff from International organizations like the World Bank also fly to and from Africa often.

What is Africa’s largest airline? This is currently Ethiopian Airlines, according to data from our airline planning system, Cirium Diio. Ethiopian Airlines has experienced tremendous success and has established Addis Ababa as a significant global aviation hub that is growing rapidly.

Air France/KLM is currently the largest foreign airline serving Africa, with Transavia having a large presence in North Africa. However, the airline’s African footprint is mostly concentrated in cities that were once part of the former French and Dutch colonial empires. Other leading players on the continent include Emirates and other Gulf carriers.

In South Africa, Safair has become the largest carrier after the bankruptcy and downsizing of South African Airways. Surprisingly, despite being Africa’s most populous country and the seventh most populous in the world, Nigeria doesn’t have any large airlines. The largest one is Air Peace, which only operates a few international routes, with just one of them outside of Africa, to Mumbai.

Overall, airlines that ignore Africa could be missing out on a wealth of opportunities. From valuable natural resources to growing populations and tourist traffic, the continent has a lot to offer. So, it’s important for airlines to take notice and consider expanding their services to this often-overlooked region of the world.

Cirium on the fly - Which are Africa's busiest airlines?

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