Whether its connecting remote locations without proper commercial aviation connectivity or destinations that have rugged airstrips made from grass or gravel where only turboprops can operate, private aviation plays a vital role in Africa to boost many sectors in the economy, from the commodities industry to the travel ecosystem.
While the pandemic demonstrated the true value of private aviation worldwide, especially thanks to its flexibility, comfort and reliability, private aviation has served for decades the tourism industry in the continent.
Fueled by modern turboprops, experienced operators like Auric Air from Tanzania offer customers the opportunity to experience its world-famous game parks while also regularly connecting a handful of destinations in the region.
Africa’s private aviation industry comprises much more than what Nigeria, South Africa, or Kenya – the three largest markets in the continent – bring to the table. In fact, the developing economies are the ones currently moving the needle regarding the industry’s growth potential. These include Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ivory Coast, Mali, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Tanzania.
While the increased use of private aviation in the continent still lags larger global economies, the inefficiencies of the commercial airline industry throughout Africa is a major opportunity for this segment to continue thriving. In fact, Auric Air, for many years a specialist Cessna Grand Caravan operator, recently decided to invest in the Dash 8 full-size airliner to add more capacity to the routes they currently service.
The company offers private charters and operates cross border flights to Kigali in Rwanda and Entebbe, Uganda, which highlights that there is also a strong market for private and regional aviation in Eastern Africa.
Turboprops are king
Whether you’re talking private aviation in Africa, or scheduled airlines, infrastructure is paramount to accommodating any potential increase in demand. Today, most African private aviation aircraft are smaller jets and turboprop aircraft, even within the larger economies.
Africa has several regions with larger economies that can benefit from the increased utilization of private aviation. The East African region, (comprising of Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania, among others) has larger economies, with regional and international interaction and where private aviation is well represented in the tourist market.
In the case of Tanzania, many of the tourism-fueled flights involve picking up travelers from international airports and flying them to lodges or national parks. The Cessna Caravan is the perfect aircraft to operate these routes and is the reason why, according to recent JETNET data, the 208B model is the most popular turboprop in Africa (207 units in operation), followed by the Caravan 208B EX (105 units).
While jets are still part of the private ecosystem in the continent, there are not cohesively spread in the various countries and are mainly operated for business purposes. Yet, larger private jets would bring additional value to the region because it opens a window on non-stop travel to the Middle East and Europe.
In essence, there is an undeniable gap in Africa’s aviation need not currently being served by the commercial airlines; a need that only private aviation can satisfy, ultimately, owing to the remote locations that need to be accessed. As recently history dictates, it will essentially be up to the governments and operators to find ways to meet that potential and continue boosting diverse sectors in the continent’s economy.
About Auric Air
From its bases at Mwanza Airport – Mwanza‚ Julius Nyerere International Airport – Dar-es-salaam and Arusha Airport‚ Auric Air provides scheduled flights to some of the most remote and otherwise inaccessible destinations within Tanzania. The airline operates 15 aircraft consisting of Cessna Grand Caravans C208Bs and Cessna Grand Caravan EXs‚ a fleet which is amongst the youngest of Caravan fleets in this region.