Road and air travel are the top means of transportation in Africa, but there are not a lot of largely successful airlines in many countries on the continent.
Many of the top airlines in Africa are owned by the government or are franchises of major European airlines.
Airlines are hugely popular in Africa because many countries do not have well-developed road and rail network due to several challenges. However, African airlines only account for 6% of the world’s air traffic, according to Wikipedia. The low numbers and lagging in the aviation sector are a factor of a number of challenges — high taxes, airfare, high cost of jet fuel, poor airport infrastructure and international competition.
With all these challenges, some airlines have still managed to thrive through the years.
1. Ethiopian airlines (Ethiopia)
What Emirates Airlines is to UAE, is what Ethiopian Airlines is to Africa. With 70+ years under its belt, Ethiopian Airlines has become one of the continent’s leading carriers, unrivaled in efficiency and operational success. Despite having experienced a few hiccups here and there, it remains the fastest growing Airline in Africa and holds the milestone of being the first African airline to have 100+ aircrafts in its fleet.
2. EgyptAir (Egypt)
In 2017 alone, Egypt Air welcomed over 8.5 million passengers in its fleet, making it one of the major airlines on the continent. It is the flagship carrier in Egypt and is 100% owned by the Egyptian government. With about 68 passenger fleets, EgyptAir serves over 12 destination in Egypt, 19 in Africa, and 29 destinations in Asia, Europe, and America.
3. South African Airways (South Africa)
With routes to about 56 destinations, South African Airways sits as the largest airline in South Africa. However, ever since passengers experienced a theft, passenger numbers have seen a decline.
4. Royal Air Maroc (Morocco)
This is Morocco’s largest and the oldest airline in Africa. It currently operates services to about 97 destinations, both on International and Domestic. In 2017, Royal Air Maroc received more than 7 million passengers.
5. Kenya Airways (Kenya)
Kenya Airways is one of the leading operators in Sub-Saharan Africa, with routes both home and abroad — Africa, Europe, Middle East and Asia. In 2017, the airline operated 78 routes to 41 countries, carrying 4.59 million passengers, according to Routes Online.
6. Tunisair (Tunisia)
This North African airline is reported to currently have a fleet of 28 aircrafts, including four which are grounded, according to Routes Online. However, it has seen a steady increase in passengers in the last few years, travelling to 66 destinations which include local and international. In 2017, the airline welcomed 3.8 million passengers.
7. Air Algerie (Algeria)
Air Algerie is another North African airline, the flagship carrier in Algeria. In 2017, the airline is reported to have carried about 7.2 million passengers to a mix of routes in Africa, Asia and Europe.
8 . Arik Air (Nigeria)
Arik Air is the only top West African carrier. The airline operates a network of 30 mid-haul and regional destinations across Africa. In 2017 alone, Arik welcomed 2.3 million passengers on its fleet. It is arguably the largest airline in Nigeria due to safety records and destinations.
9. RwandAir (Rwanda)
The national carrier of Rwanda operates domestic and international flights to destinations in Africa, Europe, Middle-East and Asia. Overall, it flies to 23 destinations.
10. Air Mauritius (Mauritius)
Air Mauritius is one of the oldest airlines in Africa with over 50 years under its belt. The airline offers non-stop flights to Australia, China, France, Hong Kong, India, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa, and the United Kingdom.