What is the missing link in Africa aviation?
Africa is a vast, beautiful continent home to diverse mixed economies, peoples, and cultures. Because of the scales and scopes involved, many firms find tackling or expanding in the region more challenging that the more hemoglobin markets of North America and Asia. An issue many companies run into during their exploration is the lack of unified commercial airline networks and availability of point-to-point routes. In fact, some destinations in Africa are not even linked through hubs in the region, with passengers having to travel first to overseas hubs like Dubai.
For example, one of the more prominent airlines in Africa, Ethiopian Airlines does have some gaps in its network across the continent. Thus many of those flying in Africa find themselves flying through hub airports (waiting hours if not a day for a connecting flight), even though their final destination might be only a few hours away as the crow flies. An example of this might be Dodoma in Tanzania, to Cape Town, South Africa.
This lack of point-to-point routes has a rolling effect on cargo transport and freight delivery as well. For some businesses, such as the mining industry, time is money. If a machine breaks down and the replacement parts need to be routed through several hubs, it can end up costing the firm millions in lost revenue as machinery and team members wait around.
What is the solution?
One of the solutions to this problem is private aviation.
By chartering a private aircraft like a small jet or turboprop, a group of travelers can cut down their travel time significantly and traverse to somewhat remote locations. Private planes can offer cheaper travel per seat (compared to sending an executive team in commercial business class) and save time by removing any layovers (anywhere from a few hours to one or two days).
There are commercial benefits as well. Team members will be able to focus on work, conduct meetings, and remain productive during the trip, and the removal of hotel stays will reduce the stress of traveling. Plus, who can deny the pleasure of taking off five minutes after arriving at an airport and returning whenever you like.
When you factor in the scale of the journey and the lack of fast rail or inter-continental highways (ruling out trains and cars), private aviation is a clear winner.
“If you have a requirement for an NGO or an entrepreneur or a government agency to be able to conduct its business, the options of using rail or a good highway are simply not there,” said African Business Aviation Association (AfBAA) chairman Tarek Ragheb. “So for the growth of the continent, there must be an ultra-efficient means of travel, and that is where business aviation could come in.”
Private aircraft are not just limited to long-range jet aircraft. Smaller prop planes are capable of landing at lower, more remote landing strips that commercial aircraft (employed by big airlines) can’t fly to. Thus, not only does private aviation offer the solution to the limitations of the airline hub and spoke model (offering point-to-point travel), it also dramatically expands the destinations beyond significant population centers.
Unfortunately, the market in Africa for private aircraft is still budding, and the current supply of flexible aircraft doesn’t meet the demand.
How big is the private aviation market in Africa?
When you compared the private aviation market in Africa to other markets, the difference is striking.
Africa trails behind all other regions in the world, and even behind some individual countries. The United States has nearly 22,000 private jets, Brazil and Mexico with approx 1,500 apiece, and even behind the small island of Great Britain with 502 aircraft.
“As of 2018, there were 481 registered private jets in Africa, and the continent’s year-on-year business aviation growth was 44%” – Philip du Preez, ExecuJet Africa’s Group general manager to Business Traveller Africa.
But this market is set to grow. Africa is the world’s richest region in terms of raw materials, from gold to platinum, to common minerals and natural gas. The jump to unlock this wealth is driving private jet travel, with some private aviation firms recording passenger bookings doubling year on year.
“It is well known that African economies are strengthening, and consequently, the need for aviation to support this growth will drive the need for more aviation professionals,” says Dawit Lemma, CEO of Addis Ababa-based Krimson Aviation in the same article.
Tourism has also been a growth market, with foreign and domestic tourists choosing to fly directly to remote destinations to explore the undistributed beauty of Africa.
Even private jet manufactures, such as Bombardier and Embraer, estimate that the number of private aircraft in Africa will jump up to 1200 planes in the next ten years.
“Africa is an emerging market where we see a positive future,” said Robert Habjanic, sales director at plane manufacturer Bombardier Business Aircraft to CNN in 2012. “Over the next 20 years, we do forecast 810 business jets to be sold into Africa.”
Bottom line: Is private aviation right for you?
Private aviation is not just the realm of international conglomerates with investors, and stakeholders based in New York’s Wall St or Headquartered in Bejing. Local small and medium businesses will not only find the flexibility of private aircraft (and the ability to open underdeveloped markets) useful, but advantageous as a competitive edge against other industry players. The advantage of private aircraft access, has not yet been taken up by most and is currently a well-kept secret of Africa’s fastest-growing companies.
In summary, the advantages are:
- Direct point-to-point travel, saving time and transfer costs.
- Choosing when to fly, and having the ability to rapidly dispatch materials and expertise.
- Access to new markets not yet developed by the competition.
Thus while private aviation is the transport solution for firms, there is the current problem of availability. With so few operators spread over the continent, without an expert in your corner it can be a scramble to book aircraft when you need them. Let Eways Aviation be your aviation partner and a reputable source of aircraft for your voyages across Africa and into the Middle East.