‘Africa Records 2% Of Global Passenger Traffic’

‘Africa Records 2% Of Global Passenger Traffic’

The Vice President of Africa, Qatar Airways, Hendrik du Preez, has disclosed that Africa’s share in the global travel demographic stands at only 2 per cent, despite having about 17 per cent of the world’s population.

Preez stated this in a press statement made available on Monday.

Preez said, “Competition is not always negative; often, it stimulates more people to fly, aiming to expand the aviation market and provide more individuals with the opportunity to travel.

“Despite comprising roughly 17 per cent of the world’s population, Africa’s share in the global travel demographic stands at only 2 per cent. This indicates a large room for growth on the continent.

“I maintain my belief that although the African market remains underserved, there are numerous prospects in the next five to 10 years. One of the most significant challenges hindering this growth is the cost of travel throughout the value chain,” Qatar Airways’          VP Africa stated.

According to Preez, procuring fuel in Africa often proves more expensive compared to many other global regions, amplifying the overall cost of operations.

He noted, “Airport operations in Africa tend to be notably costlier than elsewhere. Addressing these issues requires collaboration with governments to reassess regulations and seek ways to facilitate easier travel. Increased travel not only bolsters economies but also contributes to scaling down prices.”

Regarding Qatar Airways increased weekly flights in Nigeria, Preez said that since COVID-19, Qatar Airways had continuously reviewed operations, seizing every chance to scale up and expand.

 “Nigeria stands out as one of the countries rebounding swiftly post-pandemic, evident in its market resurgence, prompting the surge in flights. As widely recognised, Lagos, Kano, Port Harcourt, and Abuja represent distinct markets, each complementing the others. The growth in these areas prompted Qatar Airways to enhance flight frequencies, catering to increased demand and offering expanded capacity to the market.

“The cost of doing business in Africa poses a significant challenge, not only for Qatar Airways but for every airline operating in the region. It notably exceeds costs in many other parts of the world.

“The widespread devaluation of currencies has further deterred people from travelling. Another challenge pertains to airport infrastructure. Nonetheless, recent years have witnessed increased investments in improving this area by several countries,” he explained.

The Qatar Airways boss averred that new airports were opening all over Africa, adding that Nigeria, for instance, recently transitioned to a new terminal in Lagos.

“Similarly, a new airport in Luanda was opened both reflecting such ongoing advancements across the continent,” he emphasised.

Weighing in on the operational performance of Qatar Airways in the continent during 2023, he said, “This year marks a significant shift since the onset of COVID-19, where a return to normalcy is emerging.

“Pre-COVID 19 trends are resurfacing; there is still evident pent-up demand reflected in people’s booking behaviour. To accommodate this surge in Africa, we have implemented systems to bolster our capacity. During the pandemic, we introduced several new routes and eight destinations, many of which have rapidly gained popularity.”

Meanwhile, he said despite the airline’s efforts to increase capacity, challenges persist, particularly in Nigeria, where buying power remained a hurdle amidst soaring inflation across various African countries.

He further stated that the currency devaluation had significantly impacted several nations, including Nigeria, Egypt and Malawi that devalued its currency by 44 per cent recently.

“We have learnt to keep a perspective of adapting to these landscape changes, whether that be decreasing capacity during certain periods, and increasing when we see demand go up again. It is that agility that gives us a big advantage,” Preez added.

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