Air travel remains inaccessible to majority of Africans, report finds
Travel News / 5 December 2019, 6:00pm / Clinton Moodley
Air travel, safety, booking difficulties and cost remains some of the barriers travellers in Africa currently endure.
The findings of the recent African Traveller Report 2019 by the Sabre Corporation revealed that air travel remained inaccessible to the majority of African citizens, and increased by just 2 percent since 2016. The company interviewed 5 869 people from Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa.
The report revealed that only 26 percent of Africans travelled by air in the past 24 months.
According to the report, many African citizens did not frequently travel as it was too expensive, stressful and unsafe.
Difficulty getting visas, flight routes, lack of routes and booking trips were also deterrents for the travellers.
Some had no desire to travel.
The report found that the biggest pain points for travellers were flight delays (35%), the time taken to proceed through the airport (34%), the lack of entertainment on board a plane (28%) and not enough things to do at the airport (24%).
Travellers also had concerns over the check-in process.
Travellers were frustrated with waiting times and the overall experience of checking in.
Among the frustrations included the long queues at check-in (46 %), the long process (46%), the procedure was confusing (24%), or the check-in process felt intimidating (17 %).
If they were able to travel more freely within the continent, respondents said they would be willing to spend 27 percent more on travel and take one or two extra trips a year.
This meant that the annual travel spend for a person would increase from the current $1145 (R16 793) to $1567 (R22 982).
Portfolio Executive: Middle East & Africa for Sabre Steve Duley, who conducted the African Traveller Report 2019, said based on the results of the survey and the importance of creating more accessibility of air travel in Africa, the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) project - a flagship project of the African Union Agenda 2063 - is being pushed throughout Africa.
“The project will ensure aviation plays a major role in connecting Africa, promoting its social, economic and political integration and boosting intra-Africa trade and tourism as a result.
“The visa regime in Africa must be improved, although there has been some progress of countries within Africa that allows Africans to travel with no visas or visa on arrival processes,” said Duley.
Regarding the airline's responsibility to travellers', Duley said: “The airlines have a responsibility to make the experiences of booking, paying, check-in and communication as easy as possible for the traveller. Many of the new available technologies and platforms make these much easier, but airlines need to invest in digital transformation to ensure they do not get left behind.
"These technologies also help to promote ancillary revenues, which means a better return on investment for the airlines and happier customers too.
“Airlines need to frequently look at new routes, new partnerships with other airlines and airports to create intra-African travel.”