Although African airlines have faced major financial problems, the continent has something to smile about when albeit in some countries. This article looks at top 10 largest airlines in Africa.
Top 10 largest airlines in Africa
Ethiopia Airlines is Africa’s largest airline in terms of passengers carried, destinations served, fleet size, and revenue. Ethiopian is also the world’s 4th largest airline by the number of countries served.
Ethiopian Airlines carried more than 13.3 million passengers in the 12 months to the end of May 2019, a rise of 11.6 percent compared with the same period a year earlier.
The carrier is wholly owned by the country’s government. EAL was founded on 21 December 1945 and commenced operations on 8 April 1946, expanding to international flights in 1951. The firm became a share company in 1965 and changed its name from Ethiopian Air Lines to Ethiopian Airlines.
The airline is headquartered at Cairo International Airport, its main hub, operating scheduled passenger and freight services to more than 75 destinations in the Middle East, Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas. Egyptair is a member of Star Alliance and the Arab Air Carriers Organization.
It carried almost 8.9 million passengers in the year to May 2019. The Star Alliance member is one of the largest airlines in Africa and currently flies to more than 70 destinations around the world, including six in Asia Pacific and three in North America. Recent additions from Cairo have included Washington Dulles and Hangzhou.
3.Moroccan national carrier
It is Moroccan national carrier, as well as the country’s largest airline. RAM is fully owned by the government of Morocco, and has its headquarters on the grounds of Casablanca-Anfa Airport. From its base at Mohammed V International Airport the carrier operates a domestic network in Morocco, scheduled international flights to Africa, Asia, Europe, and North and South America, and occasional charter flights that include Hajj services
At December 2018, Royal Air Maroc served 94 destinations.
It is the national airline of Algeria, with its head office in the Immeuble El-Djazair in Algiers. With flights operating from Houari Boumedienne Airport, Air Algérie operates scheduled international services to 39 destinations in 28 countries in Europe, North America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, as well as domestic services to 32 airports. The airline is a member of the International Air Transport Association, the Arab Air Carriers Organization, and of the African Airlines Association (AFRAA) since 1968. As of December 2013, Air Algérie was 100% owned by the government of Algeria.
Air Algérie is in the process of aligning its codeshare agreements, frequent flyer programs, and airport lounge agreements with each of the SkyTeam carriers in order to meet SkyTeam’s membership application requirements. The company reported that they applied to join Star Alliance or SkyTeam and also began working in partnership with Lufthansa.
Comair Limited is an airline based in South Africa that operates scheduled services on domestic routes as a British Airways franchisee (and an affiliate member of the Oneworld airline alliance). It also operates as a low-cost carrier under its own kulula.com brand. Its main base is OR Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg, and has focus cities at Cape Town International Airport and King Shaka International Airport. Its headquarters are near OR Tambo in the Bonaero Park area of Kempton Park, Ekurhuleni, Gauteng.
Kenya Airways Ltd., more commonly known as Kenya Airways, is the flag carrier airline of Kenya. The company was founded in 1977, after the dissolution of East African Airways. Their head office is located in Embakasi, Nairobi, with its hub at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. The airline also ranks as one of the largest airlines in Africa.
The airline was owned by the Government of Kenya until April 1995, and it was privatised in 1996, becoming the first African flag carrier to successfully do so. Kenya Airways is currently a public-private partnership. The largest shareholder is the Government of Kenya (48.9%), 38.1% is owned by KQ Lenders Company 2017 Ltd. (in turn owned by a consortium of banks), followed by KLM, which has a 7.8% stake in the company. The rest of the shares are held by private owners; shares are traded on the Nairobi Stock Exchange, the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange, and the Uganda Securities Exchange.
The airline became a member of SkyTeam in June 2010, and is also a member of the African Airlines Association since 1977.
7.South African Airways
South African Airways is the state-owned flag carrier airline of South Africa. Headquartered in Airways Park at O.R Tambo International Airport, the airline operates a hub-and-spoke network, linking over 40 local and international destinations across Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, South America, and Oceania from its base at O. R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, The carrier joined Star Alliance in April 2006, making it the first African carrier to sign with one of the three airline alliances.
Formed in 1948, it operates scheduled international services to four continents. Its main base is Tunis–Carthage International Airport. The airline’s head office is in Tunis, near Tunis Airport. Tunisair is a member of the Arab Air Carriers Organization.
The company is 74% owned by the Tunisian government. As of December 2016 the CEO is Colonel Elyes Mnakbi, who was appointed by the Ministry of Transport, replacing Mrs Sarra Rejeb.
Mango Airlines SOC Ltd, trading as Mango, is a South African low-cost airline based at the OR Tambo International Airport, and a subsidiary of South African Airways. Mango was launched on 30 October 2006, with bookings going on sale at midnight on the same date. Mango’s first flight took place on 15 November 2006. Mango planned to join Star Alliance as a Connecting Partner in the third quarter of 2016 but the plan has been put on hold due to South African Airways’ financial state.
Mango is 100% owned by South African Airways, which is itself owned by the government of South Africa, but operates independently as a low-cost airline with its own Board and balance sheet.
FlySafair is a low-cost airline based in Johannesburg, South Africa. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Safair. The airline was established in August 2013 and was granted approval by the South African Air Service Licensing Council to launch operations with ten daily services between Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport and Cape Town International Airport. The airline had plans to begin operations in October 2013.
On 29 March 2017, the airline announced its new partnership with the South African Rugby Union (SARU) making it the official domestic carrier for the Springboks and SA Rugby.
FlySafair offers food and drinks as a buy-on-board programme. FlySafair also offers a monthly magazine on board named In Flight. It was also the first airline in South Africa to offer card payments aboard their flights.