African airlines return to profitability as global outlook improves for 2024

Abdullah bin Al Mari, UAE Minister for Economy, presided over the official opening of the 8th IATA AGM in Dubai, June 3, 2024
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African carriers are looking at improved prospects, posting a profit for the second consecutive year in […]

African carriers are looking at improved prospects, posting a profit for the second consecutive year in 2024, as the global airline industry beats projections. In its outlook for 2024 released on the sidelines of its 80th AGM in Dubai today, IATA, the International Airlines Association, estimates that African Airlines will earn a combined net profit of USD 0.1 billion in 2024, the same as 2023, marking the region’s final break from Covid-19 pandemic effects.
The margin will improve to 0.6pc from 0.4pc last year, translating earnings of USD 0.90 per passenger against USD 0.50 earned in 2023.
Africa’s performance mirrors global trends where revenues for 2023 are now expected to have reached USD908 billion – USD12 billion higher than the previous forecast in December. Expenses At USD856 billion, expenses were also USD1 billion higher than the previous forecast. Industrywide net profit was USD27.4 billion – USD4.0 billion, taking the net profit margin for 2023 to 3.0pc against the previously forecast of 2.6pc.
Africa’s performance was all the more remarkable given the region’s unique challenges.
IATA says a combination of high operational costs, “a low propensity to spend on air travel” and connectivity challenges “dampen the industry’s expansion and performance.”
 Despite that demand for air travel grew 8.5pc during 2023.
Combined industry net profit is expected to reach USD30.5bn in 2024, off gross revenues of USD996bn from carrying 4.96bn passengers and 62m tonnes of air cargo.
“In a world of many and growing uncertainties, airlines continue to shore-up their profitability. The expected aggregate net profit of $30.5 billion in 2024 is a great achievement considering the recent deep pandemic losses. With a record five billion air travelers expected in 2024, the human need to fly has never been stronger. Moreover, the global economy counts on air cargo to deliver the $8.3 trillion of trade that gets to customers by air. Without a doubt, aviation is vital to the ambitions and prosperity of individuals and economies. Strengthening airline profitability and growing financial resilience is important. Profitability enables investments in products to meet the needs of our customers and in the sustainability solutions we will need to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.
The positive outlook is however, overcast by a negative relationship between return on investment and the cost of capital.
“The airline industry is on the path to sustainable profits, but there is a big gap still to cover. A 5.7pc return on invested capital is well below the cost of capital, which is over 9pc. And earning just USD6.14 per passenger is an indication of just how thin our profits are—barely enough for a coffee in many parts of the world,” Walsh added.
Resolving supply chain issues in order to maximise fleet utilisation vs demand and “relief from the parade of onerous regulation and ever-increasing tax proposals would also help,” said concluded.

#80th IATA AGM

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