African airlines are making headlines, courtesy of an accelerated trade affair between the continent of Africa and Asia. The ambiance of the trading atmosphere between these to has seen the rise of freight volumes in seven years in the first half of 2017.
Data released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) for the global airfreight markets shows that the volumes were up 31.6 per cent, with a capacity increase of 7.6 per cent.
This improvement contributed to a freight demand growth of 25.9 per cent in the first half of 2017 — the fastest in all regions.
The demand has resulted from increased trade between the continent and China, which has grown by nearly 60 per cent in the six months to June 2017.
IATA director-general Alexandre de Juniac said that air cargo is flying high on the back of a stronger global economy and a rebound from the 2010 global economic crisis.
“This was the strongest first half-year performance in seven years and nearly tripled the industry’s average growth rate of 3.9 per cent over the past five years.
“We have seen the demand grow at a faster pace than at any time since the global financial crisis. That’s great news after many years of stagnation,” said Mr Juniac.
African airlines’ passenger traffic on the other hand increased by 9.9 per cent in the six months to June 2017, while the capacity rose to 7.1 per cent. Their load factor (capacity utilisation) grew marginally by 1.7 percentage points to 64.3 per cent — the lowest in the world.
Globally, in the six months to June, the passenger traffic demand rose by 7.8 per cent compared with the same period a year ago, largely driven by the Asian, Americas and European markets.
For the first six months of this year, the industry experienced a 12-year high in traffic growth of 7.9 per cent and a record first half load factor of 80.7 per cent.
“The brighter global economic picture and lower airfares are keeping demand for travel strong. But as costs rise, this stimulus of lower fares is likely to fade. And uncertainties such as Brexit must be watched carefully. Nonetheless, we still expect to see an above-trend growth this year,” said Mr Juniac.
IATA says that the conditions in Africa’s two largest economies have continued to diverge, with business confidence in Nigeria rising sharply in recent months, while South Africa’s economy fell into recession in the first quarter, affecting the performance of the airlines.
This year, several African airlines have received new aircraft as they position themselves for the battle for the skies. In June, Ethiopian Airlines signed an order of 10 Airbus A350-900 planes worth more than $3 billion, in addition to another two orders it has placed.
The airline also placed orders worth $163 million with the Canadian plane maker Bombardier for five aircraft. Rwandan national carrier RwandAir, Kenya’s low cost carrier Jambojet and Air Tanzania are among airlines that have received aircraft this year.