African airlines see solid growth as global air travel demand on track to full recovery
African traffic grew faster than the world average during 2023, rising 38.7pc over 2022. That compares with a global average of 36.9pc over the same period. Year on year, December 2023 traffic was 9.5pc above December 2022.
African airlines also deployed 38.3pc more seats, and although it still lagged behind other regions, the load factor a marginal 0.2 pc increase to 71.9pc. Relative to December 2022, traffic in December 2023, rose 9.5pc.
The numbers form part of the International Air Transport Association (IATA)’s traffic analysis for December 2023 which points to a sustained recovery from pandemic effects. Global traffic closed the year at 94.1pc of pre-pandemic 2019 while December 2023 total traffic was 25.3pc above December 2022 and peaked at 97.5pc of December 2019. Most of the gains came during fourth quarter of the year with traffic reaching 98.2pc of the comparable period for 2019.
“The strong post-pandemic rebound continued in 2023. December traffic stood just 2.5pc below 2019 levels, with a strong performance in quarter 4, teeing-up airlines for a return to normal growth patterns in 2024,” said IATA Director General Willie Walsh.
Describing the recovery as “good news”, Walsh said the growth was driven by the restoration of connectivity. He however cautioned governments to adopt a more strategic posture in order “to maximize the benefits of air travel in the post-pandemic world,” by providing cost-efficient infrastructure to meet demand, and “incentivizing Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) production to meet our net zero carbon emission goal by 2050, and adopting regulations that deliver a clear cost-benefit.
“Completing the recovery must not be an excuse for governments to forget the critical role of aviation to increasing the prosperity and well-being of people and businesses the world over.”
The recovery was propelled by international traffic which in 2023 climbed 41.6opc versus 2022 and reached 88.6pc of 2019 levels
Domestic traffic for the year also rose 30.4pc compared to the preceding year and edged 3.9pc above the full year 2019 level. December 2023 domestic traffic was up 27.0% over the year earlier period and was at 2.3% above December 2019 traffic. Fourth quarter traffic was 4.4% higher than the same quarter in 2019.
Africa’s share of global traffic was 2.1pc while Europe led the ranks with 30.8pc of the market. It was followed by North America at 28.8pc while Asia Pacific weighed in at 22.1pc. The Middle East was 9.8pc and Latin America6.4pc.
Asia-Pacific airlines posted the highest gain in international traffic, rising 126.1pc in 2023 traffic compared to 2022. Capacity also rose 101.8pc, the load factor climbed 9.0pc to 83.1pc, while December 2023 traffic was 56.9pc above December 2022.