Airfares within Africa will shock you! Costly flights holding the continent back
Did you know it’s often cheaper to fly to another continent than to anywhere in Africa?
For a quick comparison, a direct flight from Berlin to Istanbul taking less than three hours will probably cost you around $150.
But flying a similar distance, for instance between Kinshasa and Lagos will make you pay between $500 and $850 – with at least one change, making the journey up to 20 hours long.
Travellers in Africa pay higher ticket prices and more taxes. This makes doing business within the continent incredibly difficult as well as expensive.
Africa Missing Out On A Whole New World Of Opportunities
Aviation generates work and activates the economy – directly contributing to a nation’s GDP, said Kamil al-Awadhi, IATA’s regional vice-president for Africa and the Middle East.
Rich in minerals and natural resources, the continent is missing out on a whole new world of opportunities because of its poor air service.
According to the International Air Transport Association, if just 12 key African countries worked together to improve connectivity and open up their markets, tens of thousands of new jobs would be created, in addition to boosting those countries’ GDP by over $1.3 billion.
It’s been shown that better air connectivity improves the state of the economy. Budget airlines in other continents are helping boost tourism, which then creates many more jobs.
Growing Need To Integrate The Aviation Sector
A number of African countries don’t have the right quality of road and railway networks yet, consequently making air transport the practical choice – even for the cargo.
There is a growing middle class who could potentially travel by air if costs are brought down to levels seen in Europe or elsewhere.
The continent has been trying for decades to integrate the aviation sector. But they haven’t been successful yet. Flights within Africa still involve cumbersome bilateral agreements, says Zemedeneh Negatu, the global chairman of US-based investment firm Fairfax Africa Fund.
“Every government in Africa wants to see their flag on the tail of an aircraft at Heathrow or JFK airport, but African governments need to realise that stand-alone carriers are not viable.”
He argues African airlines should form major partnerships, like the one between flag carriers Air France and KLM of the Netherlands. They could take inspiration from Europe and believe conglomeration is a great way for them to survive and allow travellers to fly at cheaper rates.
Basically, governments need to work together.
There’s An Exception, Though
There is one notable exception in Africa. Ethiopian Airlines is absolutely thriving and could provide a blueprint for others to copy. The company employed about 4,000 people just over 15 years back, but now the figure has reached more than 17,000.
Despite being a state-owned airline, it runs entirely as a commercial venture without facing any interference from the government.
Over the years, Ethiopian Airlines has more than doubled the size of its fleet of cargo and passenger planes, eventually driving plenty of foreign currency into the capital, Addis Ababa, and boosting the country’s service industry.
A nation that once used to be one of the poorest in the world is now one of the fastest-growing economies.