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AFRAA: African International Traffic Up 72.7% in June Compared to Pre-COVID-19 Period

A Kenya Airways Boeing 787-8 at Schiphol Airport. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | James Dinsdale)

Even with the disastrous 2020, the havoc caused by the pandemic is still far from over with the COVID-19 new strain, Delta variant spreading at an alarming rate.

African Airlines Association (AFRAA) yesterday released it’s June 2021 indicating that Africa currently accounts for a worrying number of new infections since the beginning of June. The countries most affected include Zambia, Uganda, Namibia, Botswana and Kenya, which are experiencing very high infection rates.

The Coronavirus Disease has resulted in significant changes to airline schedules and operations in June 2021, with the airlines’ traffic decreasing by 59% compared to the same month in 2019. Similarly, capacity declined by 49.6% as of June 2021.

Nevertheless, Domestic markets continue to record better performance with demand for passenger travel outperforming intra-Africa and intercontinental at 63.2% as opposed to 22.2% for intra-Africa and 13.9% for intercontinental. As regards passenger capacity, domestic, intra-Africa and intercontinental account for 47.8%, 22.3% and 21.7% respectively.

Nigeria however, has seen a positive uptick in passenger traffic with 14,662 flights operated on domestic routes between January and March 2021, according to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).

The total number of flights operated in Africa has not quite rebounded yet to pre-pandemic levels but has increased significantly since the all-time monthly low in May 2020.

The restart of international routes continued the positive trend observed in the last couple of months. From a May 2021, recovery of some 62.5% of international routes compared to the pre-Covid period, June 2021 saw an additional 10.2% increase to 72.7%. This impressive trend is partly attributable to the reopening of international borders by Algeria and Morocco after more than a year of closure in the case of Algeria.

Regarding intra-African connectivity, Mauritius continues to be the most impacted hub, with a reduction of 98% of possible connections to/from African airports compared to February 2020. Connectivity at Nairobi JKIA in June declined mainly due to schedule adjustments and frequency reduction by the national carrier, KQ. Up North, intra-African connectivity for Algiers and Cairo decreased by 75% and 64% respectively.

In general, Africa passenger traffic volumes across remain low due to the inconsistencies in the messaging regarding border closures, health protocols and the continued upsurge in Covid-19 infections in some countries with the result seeing significant losses incurred by airlines.

In the first quarter of 2021, AFRAA estimates airlines’ loss in revenues at US$2.6 billion. The estimated loss in revenues for quarter two is US$2.4 billion. In 2020, African airlines cumulatively lost $10.21b in revenues due to the impacts of the pandemic.

Other regulatory developments related to the covid19 situation

• Algeria partially reopens its air borders to international traffic after over 14 months of lockdown.
• ECOWAS air transport and finance ministers are engaging in consultations to reduce and/or harmonize taxes, charges and fees with the view to making air transport in within the sub-regional block affordable and attractive.
• The government of Tanzania has given the national carrier, Air Tanzania $194mn bailout.
• Malawian Airlines to resume full operation following recapitalization by the government of Malawi.

Victor Shalton


  • Victor Shalton

    Born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya, Victor’s love for aviation goes way back to when he was 11-years-old. Living close to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, he developed a love for planes and he even recalls aspiring to be a future airline executive for Kenya Airways. He also has a passion in the arts and loves writing and had his own aviation blog prior to joining AirlineGeeks. He is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business administration at DeKUT and aspiring to make a career in a more aviation-related course.

    View all posts

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