ANALYSIS: November 2017 – Africa capacity insights for the month

In the continuation of a regular new series, The Blue Swan Daily offers a capacity snapshot in time and looks at the month ahead to highlight some of the key network trends across Europe, the Middle East, Africa and now the South Pacific.

In the case of Africa it is another stable month of year-on-year capacity growth although continued regional variations dominate the capacity story as we await the Continent’s big liberalisation. Overall start of the month network capacity within and from Africa is up 8.9% in Nov-2017 versus the same month last year, the eighth consecutive month to see growth exceeding 6.0% and the fastest monthly rate of growth this year. This is up 0.9 percentage points on last month despite overall departure capacity falling on Oct-2017 as we enter the Northern Hemisphere winter season. The year average now stands at a healthy 6.3% having been weighed down by the slow growth in Q1.

CHART – Network capacity growth from Africa has shown stability through Q2 and Q3 and now is experiencing stronger performance in Q4 with eight consecutive months of >6% risesSource: The Blue Swan Daily and OAG

Most noticeable in this month’s analysis is the capacity growth from Central and Western Africa. After eight months of capacity declines since the start of the year, the tide turned for this region in September when it returned to growth with year-on-year capacity up +4.4% for the month. This continued in October with a +5.3% growth versus the same month in 2016 and will grow to an estimated rate of +13.3% for November, based on forward schedule analysis for the month.

At this rate, the region will enter positive growth for the first time this calendar year with capacity across the first eleven months of the year up +0.6% on the same period last year. Although a big positive following a troubling start to the year and the second fastest rate of growth for Nov-2017, the region still has the slowest rate of growth across the Continent for the year to date behind +2.6% in Southern Africa, 8.6% in Northern Africa and +13.0% in Eastern Africa.

CHART – The latest month brings further positive news from Central and West Africa, another dip in Southern Africa a slowing of growth in Northern Africa and a return to double-digit growth in Eastern AfricaSource: The Blue Swan Daily and OAG

The Nov-2017 capacity rise in Central and Western Africa has been driven by significant year-on-year gains in departure capacity from Sierra Leone (+48.3%), Gambia (+37.5%), Mali (+37.3%), Chad (+36.9%), Guinea-Bissau (+34.3%), but it is the return of the Nigerian market (+21.8%) that has alone added more than 140,000 departure seats to the market, around 50% of the net seat gain for the month.

Outside of Central and Western Africa, strong country performers in Nov-2017 included Burundi (+39.4%), Nambia (+29.2%), Kenya (+27.8%), Democratic Republic of Congo (+25.0%), Rwanda (+22.8%) and Reunion (+21.8%), but it is Somalia (+79.1%) that is expected to see the greatest year-on-year growth in the coming month.

This month we look more closely at the distribution of Premium seats across Africa. Data from OAG shows that First Class seats have reduced by almost a third (-32.0) across the first ten months of 2017 versus the same period last year and account for just 0.1% of the total offering in Africa.

The decline in First Class seats has been caused mainly by a -53.0% reduction in the  offering across Northern Africa, a -5.6% fall in Central and Western Africa and a marginal decline of -0.4% in Eastern Africa. Southern Africa is the only region bucking the trend with First Class seating up +4.1%.

For Business Class, which accounts for 3.9% of the total seats on offer from Africa during the Jan-2017 to Oct-2017 analysis period, it is a different story with a growing inventory, up +8.1% on last year. This has been driven by Central and Western Africa (up 14.2% and 13.0%, respectively), but with gains also in Southern Africa (+6.9%) and Northern Africa (+2.4%).

CHART – The split of seats by cabin differs slightly between the regions of Africa, but a general move towards reducing First Class inventory in favour of Business Class and multiple Economy products is following global trendsSource: The Blue Swan Daily and OAG