Pioneering African Airlines Help to Expand Routes

By David SouthDevelopment Challenges, South-South Solutions


The last decade has seen a revolution in African air travel. The number of air routes has grown and this has paralleled the economic growth across the continent. As demand has been strong for Africa’s resources, it has also fueled a consumer boom that is benefiting an increasing number of people.

More and more people can afford to fly and flights are taking Africans to cities across Africa and out of Africa to visit cities around the world. These flights also bring in a growing number of tourists and business people.

As growth continues despite the many obstacles and challenges, and as urbanization rolls onwards, new routes have sprung up linking the continent’s cities to each other and to the world. National and local airlines have evolved to meet growing demand for flights, with the big global airlines moving in to compete.

Africa’s airlines, tourism and airport authorities gathered in early 2013 to discuss how better to link the continent up by air, and the fruits of this collaboration are coming to light.

A recent new entrant is Fastjet ( Bringing the highly competitive budget airline model to Africa that has proven so successful in Europe, it is owned by Britain’s Easyjet and has its hub in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. It will offer low-cost flights to South Africa, Zambia, and Rwanda in autumn 2013 and, ambitiously, hopes to become “Africa’s first pan-continental low-cost airline” (BBC). It has 10 aircraft.

If people book early, they can snag a one-way flight between Johannesburg and Dar es Salaam for just US $100.
Fastjet is also creating a low-cost airline in Nigeria in partnership with Nigeria’s Red 1 Airways (

One airline also expanding its routes is Daallo Airlines ( from the small nation of Djibouti ( in the northeast Horn of Africa.

Its website shows straight away how the airline is able to help link up cities normally left out of global air routes. Flights can be booked for journeys between Djibouti and Somalia, a country only now beginning to recover from decades of civil war and anarchy. Daallo also flies to Nairobi, Kenya, the East African hub for international agencies and corporations, to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia and Hargeisa, capital of the autonomous region of Somaliland (

It also offers weekly cargo flights to these destinations. Daallo has a Boeing 777 and an Antanov AN-12.

Djibouti is tiny but well positioned as a transport and shipping hub. It has invested heavily recently in its port facilities and benefits from good security, with a large U.S. base located in the country, Camp Lemonnier (, home to Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa.

Further improving flight access in Africa, in August 2013, South Africa saw a new low-cost airline enter the marketplace. Safair ( is operating 10 daily flights between Johannesburg and Cape Town using Boeing 737-400s.

Ethiopian Airlines ( has also started a strategic partnership with Malawi Airlines as part of its Ethiopian Vision 2025. This will make the capital of Malawi, Lilongwe, Ethiopian Airlines’ third hub on the African continent. It has its main hub in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and its West African hub in the Togo capital Lomé.

Published: October 2013


1) Routes Online: The Routes business is focused entirely on aviation route development and the company’s portfolio includes events, media and online businesses. The company organizes and operates world-renowned airline and airport networking events through its regional and World Route Development Forums. They are held in key markets throughout the year in Asia, Africa, Europe, the Americas and the CIS. Website:

2) IATA: The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is the trade association for the world’s airlines, representing some 240 airlines or 84 per cent of total air traffic. IATA support many areas of aviation activity and help formulate industry policy on critical aviation issues. Website:

3) Airlines International magazine: Airlines International is IATA’s flagship magazine, available in print, on tablets and online. Website:

4) African Airlines Association: “To be the leader and catalyst for the growth of a globally competitive and integrated African airline industry”. Website:

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP’s South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South’s innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator. 

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This work is licensed under a
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© David South Consulting 2022

By David South Consulting

David South Consulting is an international development media and consulting service. Designing human development and health. Editor and writer of Southern Innovator.



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