African airlines will require 1,100 new passenger and freight aircraft deliveries by 2040, according to the 2021 Airbus Global Market Forecast (GMF). This will bring the total fleet to 1,440 from a 2019 fleet baseline of 680 aircraft.
During this period, the fleet in the region will transition to new generation types such as the A220, A320neo family, A330neo and A350 bringing significant efficiency improvement and a corresponding reduction in carbon emissions per passenger.
Growth is driven by the forecast 2.8% CAGR increase in GDP between now and 2040.
Tourism and intra-regional trade will continue to be key growth sectors for Africa and drive GDP growth.
Airbus forecasts that air traffic in Africa will achieve full recovery to 2019 levels between late 2023 and beginning 2025. Globally, cargo is already operating today at 9% above pre-crisis levels, and in Africa 23%. O&D passenger traffic in Africa is set to increase by a factor of 2.3 by 2040. Cargo traffic to and from Africa will increase by a factor of 2.5.
This strong recovery is due to the fundamental drivers of traffic demand remaining unchanged: economic growth faster than the world average; young and growing population, urbanization and middle class development. There continues to be strong air travel potential within Africa due to limited ground transportation infrastructures, an abundance of natural resources facilitating trade and numerous touristic opportunities.
Over the past 10+ years, significant improvements to the industry have been made across the continent, including the creation of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) as well as the modernization of fleets by national airlines. Today African carriers such as Ethiopian Airlines, Air Senegal, South African Airways, Air Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt Air, Uganda Airlines and Air Tanzania, have chosen to operate some of the most technologically advanced aircraft such as the A350, A330neo, A320neo and the A220.
The impact that the aviation industry has had on the sustainable development of Africa cannot be overstated. Aviation not only gets people moving, but it also fosters regional integration, creates jobs and enables domestic, intra-African and global trade. Across Africa, the industry directly supports 6.2 million jobs and contributes $56 billion to the continent’s regional GDP.