Africa Facing Airline Boom

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VENTURES AFRICA – Africa will need 900 new airliners by 2031 as the continent’s aviation market is poised to mount, driven by the continent’s robust growth.

Vice president of sales at Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Van Rex Gallard, said northern Africa, East Africa, South Africa and West Africa would drive this airline growth.

Speaking in Johannesburg, Gallard said: “In North Africa, they have had some issues because of the Arab Spring and so forth. But it [growth] is coming up, it is going to continue in countries such as Algeria, Egypt, Morocco.”

“There is a solid infrastructure in those countries. They actually have access to financing and they are technologically prepared to be competitive, with mainly Europe.”

Growth in the continent’s airlines would also be driven by burgeoning consumer market, which is doubling business and leisure travel.

But the African aviation industry is tough and unforgiving, where a shoving mob of small national flag carriers and private companies struggle to compete with global airline giants that control 70 percent of air traffic to the continent.

In South Africa, the South African Airways (SAA), the country’s flagship carrier supported by the taxpayer’s money, has been accused of pushing small airlines out of business.

Critics claim that SAA is always bailed out by the taxpayer’s money when other airlines are not afforded this opportunity.

Growth in East Africa was also booming, with major industry players coming from Ethiopia, Kenya and Rwanda.

“Ethiopia is the second country in the world which has taken delivery of the [Boeing] 787, after the Japanese.”

He said Ethiopia had committed itself to growing the aviation sector and it viewed the industry as a tool to boost its economy.

“They have the full support of the government. Their goal is to have a very strong hub in that part of the world. The same could be said about Kenya,” Gallard said.