Airlines of Africa
Airlines proliferated in Africa because, in many countries, road and rail networks are not well developed due to financial issues, terrain, and rainy seasons. Ben R. Guttery, author of Encyclopedia of African Airlines, said "Although most of the carriers have never been large by European or American standards, they have had tremendous impact on the economy and the people." Many larger African airlines are owned partially or completely by national governments. Some African airlines have European airlines as major shareholders. For instance, KLM has a 26% stake in Kenya Airways and British Airways has an 18% stake in Comair.
Historically, the British authorities established locally-based airlines in their colonies, while the national airlines of Belgium, France, Portugal, and Spain served their respective colonies. After African countries became independent, national governments established their own airlines. Many newly independent countries desired to have their own flag carriers to showcase their independence, and those countries wanted large jets like DC-10s and 747s even if the air demand did not warrant those jets. Some airlines, like Air Afrique, were jointly sponsored by multiple governments. Some joint carriers, such as Central African Airways, East African Airways, and West African Airways, were established when the United Kingdom colonized parts of Africa. The knowledge of aircraft, the airline industry, and financial capital, originating from the Europeans, was used to establish the new African carriers.
In many cases European airlines have had colonial influences on African airlines, so issues arose after colonial administrators left Africa and Africans began operating the carriers. Many government airlines are manned by governmental appointees as many airlines part of the structures of their respective national governments. Therefore many African airlines are not well managed. This led to airlines being operated at severe losses and/or liquidating.
In addition, profits often go into the general operating funds of their respective countries, while many governments provide insufficient capital for their airlines. Also, many governments make airlines centers for employment and overstaff their airlines, making them inefficient. Guttery said that even though the varieties of government management and ownership of African airlines "may be considered a hindrance in a world market driven by economics," due to the difficulties in raising financial capital and a lack of government infrastructure, government participation is crucial in the formation of airlines. African airlines rely on profitable international routes to subsidize less profitable domestic routes, many of which service very small communities.
Compared to aircraft in other world regions, aircraft in Africa tend to be older. As of 2010, 4.3% of all aircraft in the world fly within Africa. Of older aircraft,[quantify] 12% fly within Africa. While older aircraft have low prices, they have higher fuel consumption rates and maintenance costs than newer aircraft. Because many African airlines have low credit ratings, Africa has a low level of leasing contracts. 5% of leased aircraft in the world fly in Africa.
The airline alliances within Africa tend to include codeshare agreements between multiple airlines in one consortium, and one African carrier owning equity in another African carrier. Relatively few African airlines participate in alliances with non-African carriers, because not enough of them are able to attract capital investment, and therefore are unable to develop networks attractive to airline alliances. South African Airways became a member of Star Alliance on 10 April 2006. Kenya Airways became an associate member of SkyTeam on 4 September 2007. In 2010 Kenya Airways became a full SkyTeam member. Ethiopian Airlines became a member of Star Alliance in December 2011.
As of 1998 the International Civil Aviation Organization ranked Africa and Latin America as the world regions with the least safe air transportation networks. The African civil aviation network has undercapitalized infrastructure. As of 1998 Africa's air traffic control systems are not as developed as ATC systems in other parts of the world; Ben R. Guttery says that the lack of air traffic in Africa compensates for the underdeveloped ATC system. Also, compared to larger airfields, smaller airfields are less likely to have hard-surfaced runways. Guttery said in 1998 that major African airports "are virtually indistinguishable from those in developed countries." He also said in 1998 that "Airport security issues continue to be a problem, but they are being addressed."
As of 2005, about 25% of aircraft crashes in the world occur in Africa, while African flights are 5% of worldwide airline traffic. The Wall Street Journal stated that "For decades, African aviation has suffered from antiquated planes, crumbling airports, broken equipment and poorly trained pilots" and that Africa had a "widespread neglect that makes this continent's skies the most dangerous in the world." The WSJ stated that a lack of enforcement of minimal safety standards by governments due to a lack of power or dishonesty is "the broadest reason for the dismal safety record".
- Guttery, Ben R. Encyclopedia of African Airlines. McFarland & Company, 1 August 1998. 1. Retrieved from Google Books on 15 February 2012.
- Graham, Anne, Andreas Papatheodorou, and Peter Forsyth (editors). Aviation and Tourism: Implications for Leisure Travel. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 10 March 2010. 3. Retrieved from Google Books on 15 February 2012. ISBN 1-4094-0232-0, ISBN 978-1-4094-0232-9.
- Guttery, Ben R. Encyclopedia of African Airlines. McFarland & Company, 1 August 1998. 2. Retrieved from Google Books on 15 February 2012.
- Guttery, Ben R. Encyclopedia of African Airlines. McFarland & Company, 1 August 1998. 3. Retrieved from Google Books on 15 February 2012.
- Guttery, Ben R. Encyclopedia of African Airlines. McFarland & Company, 1 August 1998. 1-2. Retrieved from Google Books on 15 February 2012.
- "SkyTeam celebrates tenth anniversary" (Press release). KLM. 23 June 2010. Retrieved 11 December 2011.
- Aaron Karp (23 June 2010). "SkyTeam eyes further expansion on 10th anniversary". Air Transport World. Retrieved 11 December 2011.
- "Ethiopian Airlines." Star Alliance. Retrieved on 15 February 2012.
- ""Nightmare in Nigeria: How Blunders and Neglect Stoked an African Air Tragedy". The Wall Street Journal. 1 October 2007. Archived from the original on 1 October 2007. Retrieved 10 January 2009. - Available from ProQuest, document ID: 399047247 - "They and 48 others who perished were like many victims of African plane crashes: casualties of widespread neglect that makes this continent's skies the most dangerous in the world. Africa accounts for less than 5% of global airline traffic. It accounts for roughly 25% of crashes. For decades, African aviation has suffered from antiquated planes, crumbling airports, broken equipment and poorly trained pilots. The broadest reason for the dismal safety record is simply that governments haven't enforced minimal standards. Powerless, or in some cases dishonest, regulators allow ill-equipped carriers to fly with little regard for safety. Airports stay open without electricity or qualified air-traffic controllers. Emergency services lack equipment or disaster plans."