Why it’s more expensive to fly within than out of Africa


A KQ Dreamliner aircraft. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Flying out of the African continent is way cheaper than flying within it thanks to high taxes, fees and charges slapped on airlines and passengers. This is according to a new report which also states that governments tax the sector heavily as aviation is considered a luxury service

On average, passenger’s fees and charges are twice as much on the continent than in Europe or the Middle East.

Latest African Airlines Association (AFRAA) Taxes, Fees and Charges in Africa report shows that passengers travelling within Africa from Kenya pay Sh5,502.5 ($50) in taxes and fees, above the amount paid in Europe, which is Sh3,326.8 ($30.23) and Middle East, Sh3,263 ($29.65).

“While the average amount of passengers’ paid taxes and fees in Africa is Sh7,043.2 ($64), passengers are charged Sh3,326.8 ($30.23) in Europe and Sh3,263 ($29.65) in the Middle East despite the fact that traffic is much more significant in these regions,” the AFRAA report shows.

Niamey Sh17,905.1 ($162.7), Monrovia Sh15,957.3 ($145), Bissau Sh15,176 ($137.9), Dakar Sh12, 865 ($116.9) and Doula Sh12,722 ($115.6) are some of the costly capitals for passengers in terms of taxes and fees.

To ensure affordable air transport as well as traffic on the continent, AFRAA advocates for lowering of these taxes that eat into airline operations.

“This will help our airlines to become more competitive, especially against foreign operators, who are based in regions where the taxation is lower comparatively,” AFRAA notes in its 2020 report.

Experts say an affordable air transport will develop Africa’s tourism and trade sectors that are the backbone of the continent’s economies.

According to the World Tourism Organization, 67 million international tourists visited Africa by air in 2018, bringing in a total of Sh4.2 trillion ($38 billion) in earnings.

Intra-Africa trade is extremely low at 15.2 per cent (2015-2017) in comparison to European’s (50 per cent) and Asia’s (64 per cent).

“Air transport will be vital in the implementation of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) to develop trade among African States,” the report adds.

Airports with the least taxes and fee include Maseru Sh363.2 (3.3), Tripoli Sh473.22 (4.3), Lubombo Sh792.36 (7.2), Khartoum Sh902.41 (8.2) and Gaborone Sh1276.58 (11.6).

Similar to regional travels, Nairobi charges Sh5,502.5 ($50) to passengers travelling out of the continent.

“For non-regional travels, passengers pay on average 3.4 different taxes and fees at departure, representing an average amount of Sh7, 043.2 (USD64),” it adds.

Apart from levies and charges, other costs that airlines have to pay include landing, noise, parking, Common User Terminal Equipment, jetway charge, passenger bus, lighting, counter, firefighting and prevention.

Others are check-in, ground power unit, ground handling, follow-me, hangar, housing, terminal and towing and push-back.

Airlines operating from Nairobi pay Sh32,794.90 ($298) in other charges, which is way higher in Mogadishu at Sh230,070.5 ($2090.6) followed by Lusaka Sh159,781.6 ($1451.9), Luanda Sh141, 172.1 ($1282.8) and Conakry Sh118, 215.7 ($1074.2).

“Mogadishu is the most expensive airport for airlines charges, with more than Sh220,100 ($2000) for an international flight, while a busy airport like Algiers charge Sh17,388 ($158) in the same conditions

The report also shows that West African countries tend to have a high airport taxes at Sh9,299.23 ($84.5) followed by Central Africa Sh8,925.1 ($81.1), Eastern Africa Sh5,084.31 ($46.2), Southern Africa Sh4,181.9 ($38) and North Africa Sh2,652.2 ($24.1).

Some of the busiest airports are Algiers, Addis Ababa, Johannesburg and Nairobi.

Bu non-passengers charges are higher in Europe and the Middle East at Sh122,925.9 ($1117) and Sh76,264.7 ($693) respectively. Likewise, the continent’s average is Sh68,737.2 ($624.6).

“In Europe, airlines have to pay charges that do not exist in Africa, such as De-icing, Slot coordination, Water for aircrafts. Other charges like lightning and noise have higher rates,” it adds.

A study conducted by Predictive Mobility showed that elasticity price/demand for air transport within Africa vary from -2.34 to -3.15 per centage points.

That means that a reduction of 10 per cent on the ticket price can increase the demand at continental level, from 22.3 to 30.1 million passengers yearly, the report indicates.