Data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) demonstrated an uneven recovery in air passenger traffic across Africa during the first quarter. In Africa, with 20% more passengers for an equivalent number of seats, Morocco holds its own with ease in the comparison between the traffic situation in the 1er quarter of 2023 and that of the 1er quarter of 2019, indicates the economic unit of IATA.
IATA praised the “most efficient use” of the capacities available to local operators, Royal Air Maroc and Air Arabia Maroc. However, the bet was far from won for RAM, whose fleet size had been reduced. To limit the effects of the worst crisis that the national company had known, RAM had sold six of its 61 planes and had not renewed certain lease contracts. “We have ten fewer planes than in 2019” indicated its CEO Abdelhamid Addou “and therefore, a lower capacity, but with more productivity and efficiency”.
That said, IATA announced that the strong demand for passenger traffic continued in April 2023. Air traffic worldwide is now at 90.5% of pre-Covid levels, and the base year 2019. Total traffic in April 2023 (measured in Revenue Passenger Kilometers or RPK) increased by 45.8% compared to April 2022. At 81.3%, the industry load factor “n was only 1.8 percentage points lower than the pre-pandemic level”.
April domestic traffic increased by 42.6% over the prior year period and has now “fully recovered”, even posting a 2.9% increase over April 2019 results International traffic was up 48.0% from April 2022, with “all markets seeing healthy growth and carriers in the Asia-Pacific region continuing to lead the recovery.”
Airline traffic in Africa increased by 53.5% in April 2023 compared to a year ago, the second highest among the regions. April capacity increased 50.0% and load factor climbed 1.6 percentage points to 69.8%.the lowest level among the regions“. In comparison, traffic from North American carriers increased by 34.8% in April 2023 compared to the 2022 period.
Airlines in Latin America recorded a traffic increase of 25.8%, those in Europe recorded a traffic increase of 22.6% compared to April 2022, those in the Middle East 38.0% compared to April 2022. compared to this same period a year ago and those of Asia-Pacific 192.7%.
The global airline industry representative body, IATA, has released a graph outlining the recovery (in percentage, not absolute numbers) of air passenger traffic and capacity in Africa. The graph has two axes, the vertical being the number of airliner seats available in the first quarter of this year (1Q23) compared to those available in the first quarter of 2019 (1Q19).
The horizontal axis represents the number of air passengers to, within and from each African country, again in 1Q23 and also as a percentage of the figures for 1Q19; 2019 was the last year before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In 1Q23, some 19 African countries surpassed their 1Q19 figures for air passenger traffic and aircraft seats, meaning they have not just recovered from the pandemic, but are back on track of growth. These countries included Botswana, Egypt, Ethiopia, Guinea, Nigeria and Togo. In addition, Tunisia recorded a recovery in both passenger traffic and capacity slightly above 100%, in each case.
Eight other countries exceeded their passenger traffic in 1Q19, but their air capacity was still below the 1Q19 level. This group included Algeria (with just over 100% of 1Q19 passenger traffic), Kenya and Morocco.
The other African countries in the chart had not reached a full recovery in passenger traffic or airline seat capacity in 1Q23. These countries included Comoros, Djibouti, Lesotho, Madagascar, South Africa and Zambia.
These numbers illustrate the recovery in percentage terms, not absolute numbers. They cover all passenger air traffic for African countries, regardless of the country of origin of the airlines. A recovery in passenger traffic to an African country does not automatically mean that the airline(s) in that country has also experienced a recovery.