US aerospace giant Boeing has highlighted its forecast that African airlines will need 1,010 new aircraft, worth a total of $176 billion, by 2041. This demand will be boosted by a surge domestic, intra-regional and inter-regional flights in Africa. passenger traffic, forecast by Boeing to grow at a compound annual rate of 6.1%.
“African carriers are well positioned to support the growth of inter-regional traffic and capture market share by offering services that efficiently connect passengers and enable commerce on the continent,” said Boeing Commercial Marketing: Middle East and Africa MD Randy Heisey. “We expect an increase in the average size of aircraft and seats per aircraft for the African fleet, as mid-size single-aisle aircraft, such as the Boeing 737 MAX, will be the most in demand on the continent.”
So far this year, African air traffic has shown a strong recovery rate. This was driven by economic growth boosted by rising global commodity prices and the release of pent-up travel demand, following the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result, African airlines are now operating 80% of their pre-pandemic flights.
Looking ahead, Africa’s annual economic growth rate of 3.1% is above the global average. Urbanization continues to increase and middle class populations are growing across the continent. These factors will continue to drive the continent’s air traffic growth. In addition, the African Continental Free Trade Area and the Single African Air Transport Market are expected to boost intra-regional air connectivity.
Boeing projects that, by 2041, African air passenger traffic will grow by 5.2% per year (global average growth will be 3.8%), leading African airlines to grow their fleets at a rate 3.5% annually. More than 70% (by number, 740) of the new airliners that African operators will acquire will be of the single-aisle type. But mainland carriers will also need 250 wide-body aircraft, both passenger and freighter, to meet future demands for long-haul passengers and air cargo.
Of the planned acquisitions, 20% will be used to replace older airliners and 80% to expand airline fleets. Future acquisitions will be more fuel-efficient and durable aircraft, such as Boeing’s 737 MAX, 777X and 787 Dreamliner.
In terms of personnel, over the next 20 years, African airlines will need 20,000 new pilots, 21,000 new technicians and 26,000 new cabin crew. Manufacturing, repair, overhaul and supply chain services to support these new planes are expected to be worth $80 billion.