African airlines experienced passenger traffic growth exceeding global rates throughout the entire year of 2023 due to increased demand for air travel.
Data by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) shows that airlines in the continent posted an annual traffic growth of 38.7% last year compared to 2022, beating global passenger traffic growth of 36.9%
Full year capacity on the other hand rose to 38.3% even as load factor which is measures passenger capacity used rose marginally by 0.2% to 71.9%
IATA reported that the recovery in air travel persisted in December 2023, and the total traffic for the year approached levels very close to pre-pandemic demand.
“The strong post-pandemic rebound continued in 2023. December traffic stood just 2.5% below 2019 levels, with a strong performance in quarter 4, teeing-up airlines for a return to normal growth patterns in 2024. The recovery in travel is good news,” said Willie Walsh, IATA Director General.
December 2023 traffic for African airlines rose 9.5% when compared to December 2022.
Globally, full year 2023 traffic was at 94.1& of pre-pandemic (2019) levels as December 2023 total traffic rose 25.3% compared to December 2022 and reached 97.5% of the December 2019 level.
Fourth quarter traffic was at 98.2% of 2019, reflecting the strong recovery towards the end of the year.
“The restoration of connectivity is powering the global economy as people travel to do business, further their educations, take hard-earned vacations and much more. But to maximize the benefits of air travel in the post-pandemic world, governments need to take a strategic approach” added Walsh
For most governments, that means providing cost-efficient infrastructure to meet demand, incentivizing Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) production to meet our net zero carbon emission goal by 2050, and adopting regulations that deliver a clear cost-benefit.
Completing the recovery must not be an excuse for governments to forget the critical role of aviation to increasing the prosperity and well-being of people and businesses the world over.