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Why Emirates, S’Africa displaced Nigeria in juicy 10 profitable African routes

Fresh report published by OAG, an international analysis company, has revealed that the Emirates and South African routes dominated Africa in continental air travel space in the last one year.

The strategic take away from the report is the fact that Emirates operates the most profitable routes on the continent, half of which connect South Africa to Europe or Asia.

Accordingly, the Dubai-based carrier was ranked four times among the most profitable route companies, with Johannesburg and Cape Town airports hosting five of the 10 routes.

Whereas Nigeria remained missing in the report as a strong route, the only West African route in the top 10 is Abidjan-Paris which occupied the eighth place.

The report tends to find it hard to place its findings considering the fact that Nigeria, with a population of over 200 million people, over 35 airports with opened doors to 34 foreign carriers on multiple frequencies, is missing in the top 10 routes within the period under review.

Ahead of the period under review, Nigeria had been rated often next to South Africa in terms of profitability; but, not any longer due to a number of reasons including low traffic demand and flight frequencies, lack of tourism destinations, and the absence of dominant carriers on the international front.

Other key reasons for the missing status of Nigeria even though hard to be mentioned by policy makers include insecurity and inability of the government to float a national fleet.

The strategic take away from the report is the fact that Emirates operates the most profitable routes on the continent, half of which connect South Africa to Europe or Asia.

Accordingly, the Dubai-based carrier was ranked four times among the most profitable route companies, with Johannesburg and Cape Town airports hosting five of the 10 routes.

The report showed that leading the ranking period from April 2018 to March 2019, is the Emirates’ Johannesburg-Dubai line which generated $315.6 million. It is ahead of Johannesburg-London, operated by British Airways, with $295 million in revenue, and Cairo-Djeddah, operated by Saudi Arabian Airlines, with $242 million in revenue.

The only line in the top 10 in West Africa is Abidjan-Paris, operated by Air France, which generates $175 million. It ranked eighth, thanks to its many business customers.

Industry analysts who could not rank Nigeria, noted that with three daily flights, it may even be among Air France’s most profitable routes.

There are indications that the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) project may address the barriers of taxes and legislation, in order to facilitate intra-African connections.

However, pundits argue that in case the single market does not necessarily push continental interconnections up to the top of the OAG ranking, it will increase competition in the African sky, to the detriment of the smallest companies, some analysts have warned.

In his remarks on the report, Aviation analyst and vice-president of the OAG, John Grant, said “Each company, each line has its own costs and suppliers, who charge different prices. Generally, the most profitable routes have a large proportion of business-class travelers, who will pay a high price, or a large passenger market in tourism class throughout the year.”

“Johannesburg Airport seems to have a combination of these two assets. This company has a very dense network in Africa and offers connections to other regional areas.

“At least 80 per cent of intercontinental traffic linking Africa to other continents is carried by foreign companies. The only intra-African line in the ranking is the one between Cape Town and Johannesburg, operated by South African Airways, with $185 million revenue.

He agreed that “This is a particularity that represents a challenge for air traffic between African countries. Long-distance flights generate the most revenue; especially those with business class,” observing further that “On the continent, short and medium-haul flights are in the majority.”