Airbus Sees Africa Demand for 1,000 Jets Over Next 20 Years

  • African traffic growth seen outpacing global average
  • Company has 228 aircraft with 32 operators on the continent

Airbus SE expects African operators to buy about 990 new planes over the next two decades to meet increasing demand for passenger and freight services on the continent.

While making up only 3 percent of overall global demand, the planes will more than double the number of such aircraft on the continent, according to Airbus’ vice president for sales in Africa and India, Hadi Akoum. The company forecasts passenger traffic in Africa increasing by 5.6 percent a year over the next two decades, higher than the 4 percent global average.

“We put Africa’s growth above the rest of the world and we do believe that there is a huge potential,” Akoum said in an interview in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, on Wednesday. “We are working with almost every country and airline that has capacity to operate aircraft beyond 100 seats.”

Underpinned by a growing middle class, the number of air passengers in Africa is forecast to increase by almost two thirds to 303 million by 2035, according to the International Air Transport Association. The top 10 fastest-growing markets in percentage terms are expected to be African nations including Sierra Leone, Mali, Rwanda, Togo, Uganda and Zambia, each doubling in size every decade, the trade body said on its website.

Of the 990 new Airbus aircraft, 760 will be single-aisle jetliners in the 120-200 seat category, while 230 will be wide-body twin-engine medium- and long-haul airliners, according to the company’s projections. There is also room in the market for 10 larger liners, such as A380s, it said.

The anticipated orders present aircraft maintenance and repair business worth about $76 billion, and a requirement for as many as 21,700 new pilots, according to Airbus.

Jet Deliveries

Some of the planes will replace 226 outdated ones, while the rest of the existing fleet will still be in service by 2035, according to Airbus. There are 605 planes with capacity of more than 120 seats on the continent, manufactured by both Airbus and Boeing Co., it said.

Airbus had 228 planes with 32 African operators by the end of January, including 140 single-aisle A320s and three A350XWB wide-body twin-engine jets.

The company expects to deliver two A330s to South African Airways this year and is in talks with Ethiopia Airlines for more A350-1000s, Akoum said, without giving details as the specifics are still confidential. The airplane maker is also in early-stage discussions with Kenya Airways Ltd., the continent’s third-biggest carrier.

Defunct Ugandan Airlines is in negotiations with both Airbus and Bombardier Inc for leases on six planes, the Nairobi-based East African newspaper reported in December, citing Ugandan Minister of State for Transport Aggrey Bagiire.

Last year, Airbus delivered 688 new aircraft globally valued at $101.3 billion and booked orders for another 949, estimated at $132.7 billion.

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