Embraer Commercial Aviation released today its market outlook for Africa, which forecasts that the region will take delivery of 240 new jets in the 70 to 130-seat segment over the next 20 years. The 70 to 130-seat jet fleet in service is estimated to grow from the current 120 units to 260 by 2034.
“Africans are turning progressively to air travel. As in Asia, economic expansion, a growing urban middle class, continued market liberalisation and regional integration will be the main drivers of air transport demand,” explained Simon Newitt, Vice President, Latin America, Africa & Portugal, Embraer Commercial Aviation. “With right-sized aircraft, such as the E-Jets family, African carriers would be able to offer a better combination of capacity and frequency in core as well as low to mid-density markets.”
According to the Embraer study, there are still ample connectivity opportunities within the African region although traffic remains concentrated in the largest cities. Of more than 300 of the region’s airports operating in 2015, only eight connected 25 or more cities while 240 airports linked five or less cities.
Some 90% of city pairs have traffic volumes of up to 300 daily passengers yet the current fleet is comprised of large capacity aircraft – around 70% of the aircraft in the single-aisle jet fleet have more than 130 seats. Nearly 55% of intra-regional markets do not have direct flights and some 67% of all non-stop markets within the region are served with less than one daily frequency. This is a clear indication of the opportunities for air service expansion and for right capacity aircraft deployment, Embraer said.
At the same time, the study reveals that 83% of all Intra-African flights are departing with less than 120 passengers on board. This fact becomes even more interesting, when linking it to the average load-factor of only 68% of African airlines. This is clear evidence of airlines operating too large capacity aircraft, which have resulted, in some cases, in poor profitability and markets remaining underserved, according to Embraer.
In Africa, Embraer has more than 40% market share among aircraft in the jet segment up to 130 seats. Nearly 40 E-Jets are currently in service with six operators from six countries in the region.
In total, there are more than 120 Embraer aircraft, between turboprops and jets, flying in Africa with almost 40 different airlines. Embraer airplanes fly with brands like Royal Air Maroc, Egyptair Express, Airlink and Kenya Airways, amongst others. The E-Jets family has logged over 1,700 orders and 1,200 deliveries to date. The aircraft are in service with some 70 customers from 50 countries.
Meanwhile, Boeing has projected that the African market will require 900 new aircraft valued at US$120 billion over the next 20 years, which is up 12% from its 2011 forecast.
“Boeing continues to see Africa’s aviation growth outpace the world average due to a growing middle class and strong demand for business travel. Approximately 70% of the 900 airplanes forecasted will be for growth,” said Mike Warner, Director of Market Analysis for Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “African airlines are also investing in newer, more fuel-efficient airplanes to replace their older fleets.”
Boeing projects the African aviation market will outpace the world average due to strong economic growth in the region. Additionally, the rise in trade with Asian countries is driving the need for increased direct air travel.
The increased demand for airplanes also means an increase in the demand for commercial airline pilots and maintenance technicians. Boeing projects Africa’s aviation industry will need 14,500 pilots and 16,200 maintenance technicians over the next 20 years.
“As Africa’s need for new airplanes soars, so does its need for qualified pilots and technicians, said J Miguel Santos, vice president of Africa for Boeing International and International Sales director for Southern Africa for Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “Boeing recognizes the importance of a qualified workforce to fly and maintain these state-of-the-art airplanes, which is why we are partnering with Africa’s leading aviation schools like the 43 Air School to ensure Africa has a steady stream of qualified pilots and technicians.”
The African economy is projected to grow 4.4% per year over the next 20 years, which is ahead of the world’s economic projection of 3.2%.
“Africa is the second largest and most populous continent after Asia and their long-term economic potential is strong,” said Santos. “Over the next two decades, Africa’s economy is forecast to grow faster than the world average, driven largely by demand for natural resources; add that to the growing middle class, and we see a lot of growth in the region.”
The African Development Bank projects that Africa’s middle class will grow by more than 700 million people over the next several decades. United Nations data shows that urban dwellers were about 15% of Africa’s population in 1950 and are expected to be 50 percent by 2030–a trajectory similar to that of Asia.
“African carriers will continue to need to modernize their fleets to compete on routes historically dominated by foreign carriers,” said Warner. “Africa has one of the oldest airline fleets in the world and this is a market that demands newer, more fuel efficient airplanes to help offset the rising cost of fuel and the excessive maintenance costs of the ageing fleet.”
Strong demand exists to support increased non-stop routes between Africa and other emerging markets, as well as Europe and North America. While single-aisle aircraft will account for the majority of the deliveries over the next 20 years, twin-aisle fleets will evolve in the region as airlines continue to expand international services, Boeing predicts.
Boeing representatives are in Johannesburg this week to participate in the annual Aviation Outlook Conference, which examines the potentials strategy and investment for airlines and airports, exhibits aviation solutions, explores innovation in the aircraft industry and meeting consumer demand.