Internal air travel in Africa has long been fragmented due to poor infrastructure and connectivity, as travellers moving from one country to another are often forced to visit a third destination outside the continent as part of their journey.
Those problems were exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic as national airlines sought government bailouts while others were liquidated when passenger seats plummeted during strict lockdowns.
Kamil Alawadhi, the International Air Transport Association’s (Iata) regional vice president for Africa and the Middle East, said market access and connectivity issues were delaying the recovery of southern Africa’s lucrative long-haul destinations, hampering foreign tourism and trade.
“What the numbers describe is the impact of several carriers’ exits from the market and the harmful distorting effects of an outdated regulatory framework of bilateral air service agreements between governments, that restrict expansion and market access,” Alawadhi said in prepared remarks for delivery at the Airlines Association of Southern Africa’s annual general assembly.
“Today, in Southern Africa’s case, with the exception of Angola, the absence of local inter-continental operators from routes they have been designated, is causing particular pain as it has left many markets under-served,” he said.