Africa’s vast aviation potential as the continent continues to increase airline frequency to the GCC will be explored at the Inaugural CONNECT Middle East, India and Africa – co-located with Arabian Travel Market 2019 and taking place at Dubai World Trade Centre on April 30 and May 1. With up to 300 delegates, the forum will include a packed conference programme, panel discussion and airline and industry briefings as well as unlimited one-to-one meetings pre-scheduled for airlines, airports and suppliers – all combined with endless informal opportunities for networking throughout the two days. The potential for the aviation sector in Africa is immense. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) projects that the African continent will become one of the fastest growing aviation regions within the next 20 years, with an average annual expansion rate of almost 5 per cent.
Currently, there are 731 airports and 419 airlines on the African continent, with the aviation sector supporting around 7 million jobs and generating $80 billion in economic activity. In terms of passenger numbers, 47 million passengers departed from Africa’s top five airports, which included Cairo, Addis Ababa and Marrakesh in 2018, according to the latest ANKER report.
“Emirates and Saudia were only responsible for 8 million of those passengers, highlighting the potential for new routes throughout the continent and between the Middle East and Africa. Furthermore, IATA reckons if just 12 key Africa countries opened their markets and increased connectivity, an extra 155,000 jobs and US$1.3 billion in annual GDP would be created in those countries,” said Nick Pilbeam, Divisional Director, Reed Travel Exhibitions.
The international aviation industry has been monitoring developments in Africa closely, especially since the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) agreement was drawn up in January 2018. The aim of SAATM is to open up Africa’s skies, allowing airlines to fly between any two African cities without having to do so via their home hub airport, boosting intra-Africa trade and tourism as a result.