Although for a long time Africa did not have a great deal of coverage by major airlines, this is now changing. Many airlines are rapidly expanding their services to Africa and within the continent, flying to more countries and more destinations. Schedules change rapidly, so much so that it is difficult to say which is the best… for that may well change next week or tomorrow.
Airlines covering Africa can be roughly split into two groups – those based in Africa, and those whose home base is elsewhere. Considering them in this way, here are some of the airlines with good coverage of Africa at the present time.
Africa-Based Airlines With The Best Coverage of Africa
Wholly owned by the Ethiopian government, Ethiopian Airlines is definitely the leader here. This airline flies to over 30 countries in Africa, and a large number of destinations within Ethiopia, a total of 57 destinations across the whole continent.. According to most sources, it flies to more African destinations than any other carrier, and is one of the most profitable and fast-growing airlines in Africa. The second in line is probably South African Airways. This airline is the flag carrier for South Africa and one of the largest airlines on the continent. It connects 15 South African destinations and another 25 African destinations.
Looking at other airlines, Egyptair flies to around 70 destinations around the world. 19 of these are in Africa, and another 12 within Egypt. Royal Air Maroc, Morocco’s national carrier, serves 24 countries in Africa, and 17 cities within Morocco. Kenya Airways is the country’s national airline. As well as numerous destinations in Asia and Europe, Kenya Airways serves 51 destinations across the continent. Mauritania Airlines International is the flag carrier for Mauritania. It serves 10 destinations across West and North Africa.
In addition to these, a small but significant number of budget airlines are opening up the African skies. Kulula.com took off in 2001 as Africa’s first low-cost carrier. It now flies to 12 destinations in Africa, mainly in or near South Africa. Fastjet took off in 2011, operating domestic flights in Tanzania. It has now expanded to other countries, with 8 destinations. Flyafrica.com, Mango, and FlySafair are also growing African operators.
Airlines Based Outside Africa With The Best Coverage of Africa
Turkish Airlines has far more African destinations than any other European airline. It recently added its 52nd African destination, with flights to Freetown in Sierra Leone. This carrier also provides a link between its home hub of Istanbul, and the Lungi International Airport via Ouagadougou, the capital city of Burkina Faso. No other airlines operate this route. Turkish also now flies to Somalia, a destination avoided by many other airlines as it was considered too dangerous. Mustafa Ozkahraman, Kenya country manager for Turkish Airlines, was recently quoted as saying “Somalia is one of our most profitable destinations worldwide”. The Istanbul-based carrier is planning to replicate this move across Africa, expanding to destinations shunned by others. This move is likely going to be fostered by the opening of a new airport in Istanbul.
From it’s main hub in Dubai, Emirates flies to 15 countries in Africa, and also has a number of domestic flights within South Africa, bringing its total of African destinations to 22. Qatar Airways now flies to 21 African destinations. The addition of a four times weekly service to Mombasa on 9th December 2018, brought it up to this number. Air France has the second largest African network after Turkish among European carriers, with 34 destinations. Brussels Airlines has the third largest network in Africa among European carriers with 19 destinations. British Airways has 18 destinations in Africa, and Lufthansa has 13.
Aviation in Africa is expanding and changing. The above is of necessity only a snapshot in time, as it were, and further developments are likely in the near future. This can only be advantageous, to the countries concerned, the airlines, and of course airline passengers.