African air travel expected to grow steadily over next 20 years

Commercial aeroplane manufacturer, Boeing, forecasts that carriers in Africa will experience steady growth over the next 20 years as air travel on the continent continues to grow with the economy.

The African economy is projected to grow 4.8% in 2010 following 2.9% growth in 2009. This strong growth results from worldwide recovery stimulating demand for African exports as well as imports into the continent. West Africa shows the strongest growth with foreign interest in petroleum development.

“As the demand for African commodities grows and foreign development and tourism increase, African carriers will require a modernised fleet in order to compete on routes historically dominated by foreign carriers,” said Mike Warner, senior market analyst for Boeing Commercial Aeroplanes, yesterday at a media briefing in Cape Town.

“Africa’s current fleet is nearly 20 years old on average in a market that demands newer, more fuel-efficient aeroplanes to help offset the rising cost of fuel.”

Boeing’s forecast calls for the delivery of more than 700 aeroplanes with a value of approximately US$80 billion for the African market over the next 20 years.

Growth in the market, along with the demand to replace older, less fuel-efficient single-aisle aeroplanes and regional jets with new-generation, more fuel-efficient models, will drive new aeroplane deliveries.

According to Boeing, strong demand exists to support increased non-stop routes between Africa and Europe, the United States, the Middle East, India, and China. Twin-aisle fleets will evolve in the region as airlines continue to expand international services. Boeing forecasts that twin-aisle aeroplanes will account for 32% of new aeroplanes delivered to African carriers over the next 20 years compared to 23% worldwide. Single-aisle aeroplanes will represent 60% of the African new-aeroplane market, compared to 69% worldwide.