African Aviation Market to Grow by 7.4% in Next 20 Years

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Boeing projects that intra-African passenger traffic will quadruple over the next two decades, placing the continent’s growth among the highest globally. To support this, 1,025 new airplanes will be needed over the next two decades.

Overall African air traffic growth is forecast to grow by 7.4%, the third highest among global regions and above the global average growth of 6.1%. Boeing included the data as part of its 2023 Commercial Market Outlook (CMO), the company’s long-term market outlook for commercial airplanes and services.

“African carriers are well-positioned to support intra-regional traffic growth and capture market share by offering services that efficiently connect passengers and enable commerce within the continent,” said Randy Heisey, Boeing managing director of Commercial Marketing for Middle East and Africa. “We forecast an increase in the average aircraft size and seats per aircraft for the African fleet, as single-aisle jets, such as the Boeing 737 MAX, will be the most in demand for the continent.”

African aviation traffic has recovered at a strong pace in 2023 led by pent-up demand and economic growth driven by higher global commodity prices. African airline flights are currently 8% higher than pre-pandemic levels. Africa’s above global average, long-term annual economic growth of 3.4%, combined with increasing rates of urbanization and a growing middle-class population, will continue to drive Africa’s long-term traffic demand, according to Boeing. Economic growth initiatives such as the African Continental Free Trade Area and Single African Air Transport Market are expected to further stimulate trade and intra-regional connectivity.

With Europe remaining the most prominent origin/destination for travelers to and from Africa, airlines in the region will grow their fleets by 4.5% per year to accommodate passenger traffic growth.

Single-aisle jets are expected to account for more than 70% of commercial deliveries, with 730 new planes mainly supporting domestic and intra-regional demand. In addition, African carriers are estimated to need 275 new widebodies, including passenger and cargo models, to support long-haul routes and air freight growth.

Approximately 90% of African jet deliveries are expected to be for fleet growth, with more fuel-efficient models such as the 737 MAX, 777X, and 787 Dreamliner being the most in demand. Nearly one in five deliveries will replace older airplanes.

Estimated demand for aviation personnel is expected to reach 69,000 new professionals, including 21,000 pilots, 22,000 technicians, and 26,000 cabin crew members. Commercial services opportunities such as supply chain, manufacturing, repair, and overhaul are valued at $105 billion.