African airlines saw mixed fortunes during June 2023 with traffic rising 34.7 percent year on year but cargo demand dipping 2.8 percent relative to June 2022, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) says in its analysis of market data for the period.
The gain in African passenger traffic was the second-highest among the regions but aggressive growth in capacity by 44.8 percent, diluted the load factor which fell 5.1 percentage points to 68.1 percent, the lowest among the regions. Relative to a year ago, Africa was the only region to see a decline in the monthly international load factor.
A 2.8 percent contraction in cargo demand continued a deceleration that was also evident during May when performance declined 1.9 percent. The contraction persisted despite a 3.7 percent reduction in capacity relative to June 2022.
Looking at in terms of the first half of 2023, cargo demand shrunk faster at 4.4 percent against a 1.6 percent increase in capacity. The region’s share of the global cargo market remained unchanged at 2 percent for the period under review.
The change in Africa’s passenger traffic was in tandem with the global industry which witnessed a 33.7 percent increase compared to June 2022. IATA says all markets experienced “robust growth” with international RPKs reaching 88.2 percent of June 2019 levels. International traffic for the first six months of 2023 was up 58.6 percent over the first half of 2022. IATA said in June that it predicted that airlines would generate $9.8 billion in net profits in 2023, although Africa is still expected to be loss-making at $-0.5 billion.
“The northern summer travel season got off to a strong start in June with double-digit demand growth and average load factors topping 84 percent,” says IATA Director General Willie Walsh, adding: “Planes are full which is good news for airlines, local economies, and travel and tourism-dependent jobs.”
Walsh suggested that passenger growth could have been even faster-paced, were it not for supply-chain bottlenecks, which have stifled capacity.
“As strong as travel demand has been, arguably it could be even stronger. Demand is outrunning capacity growth. Well-documented problems in the aviation supply chain mean that many airlines have not taken delivery of all the new, more environmentally friendly aircraft they had expected, while numerous aircraft are parked awaiting critical spare parts.
“And, for the fleet that is in service, some air navigation service providers (ANSPs) are failing to deliver the requisite capacity and resilience to meet travel demand. Delays and trimmed schedules are frustrating for both passengers and their airlines. Governments cannot continue to ignore the accountability of ANSPs in places where passenger rights regimes place the brunt of accountability on airlines,” Walsh said.