African airlines posted the strongest demand growth among global regions with February traffic up 12.7 percent compared to a year ago — a sign that African carriers are regaining market share after several difficult years, according to the International Air Transport Association.
Africa is set for strong expansion in air connectivity, the IATA reported. Efforts to enhance revenue management systems are paying off, along with increased exports from Africa.
Africa aviation accounts for more than 70 million passengers a year, generates over $80 billion in gross domestic product and supports more than 6.9 million jobs on the continent. Over the next five years the African economy is forecast to grow at a 4.7 percent per year — well above the global average.
“In the first two months of 2016, demand for passenger connectivity is off to its strongest start in eight years,” said IATA Director General Tony Tyler, AfricanCargoNews reported.
The industry body predicts that seven of the 10 fastest growing air passenger markets over the next 20 years will be in Africa, RoutesOnline reported. These include Malawi, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Central African Republic, Tanzania, Uganda and Ethiopia.
“Aviation is a force for good and we are once again proving that terrorists will never succeed in destroying the fundamental urge of people to travel, explore and learn about the world,” IATA said in a statement.
Infrastructure and safety are two of the biggest challenges facing African aviation, said Jeoff Motshoba with South Africa’s Air Traffic and Navigation Services (ATNS). ATNS is responsible for the running South Africa’s air traffic control systems.
Infrastructure is improving as new airports are commissioned and Africa’s aircraft fleet gets younger, according to a report in AirportTechnology.
African aviation has a poor safety record, with nine times higher than the global average for air traffic accidents in 2011. Safety does seem to be improving, according to AirportTchnology. Africa’s 2015 safety record was better than any year from 2010 to 2014.