An analysis of seat capacity for travel to the top 10 international airports in Africa produced by ForwardKeys revealed that Lagos is seeing substantial decline in both domestic and international capacity, mainly because Arik Air is cutting 53 per cent of its seats for the rest of 2017. During the coming five months, August to December 2017, there will be 16 per cent fewer airline seats on domestic routes and nine per cent fewer and on international routes to and from Lagos.
Commenting on this data, Jon Howell, Managing Director of AviaDev, Africa’s leading airline route development conference, said: “One of the major reasons for falling arrivals by air to Nigeria is the fact that many airlines could not repatriate funds after the currency crisis in 2016.
As a result, Iberia and United Airlines have ceased operations to Nigeria, whilst Emirates and the other foreign carriers have scaled back services. The Nigerian airlines have suffered too and so this void has been filled by the ever-opportunistic Ethiopian Airlines which began serving their fifth Nigerian destination, Kaduna, on August 1, 2017, and are now the largest carriers in the Nigerian market.”
Most of the other airports in Africa’s top 10 are seeing a healthy growth in capacity, which is more international than it is domestic.
However, the most notable exception to this trend is Nairobi, which is seeing a 22 per cent boost in domestic capacity.
These findings are part of a wider report on travel to Africa, produced by ForwardKeys, which predicts future travel patterns by analysing 17 million booking transactions a day. It shows double digit growth in flight arrivals for the first half of this year and little indication that the pace of growth will slow down soon. The wider report will make encouraging reading for airlines, governments and hoteliers planning to discuss possible new aviation routes at AviaDev in Kigali in October.
Looking at Africa’s top 10 destination countries, there have been stand-out performances from Tunisia and Egypt, which are recovering from notorious terrorist attacks, up by 33.5 per cent and 24.8 per cent respectively.
In addition, Morocco and Tunisia received a huge boost in arrivals from China, up by 450 per cent and 250 per cent respectively, after they relaxed visa restrictions. The one disappointment is Nigeria, which has seen a 0.8 per cent drop in the wake of recession in 2016, caused by a collapse in the oil price to a 13 years low.