Despite Africa accounting for approximately 17% of the world’s population, the continent’s share in the global travel demographic stands at only 2%, revealed Hendrik du Preez, the Vice President of Africa at Qatar Airways. Preez shared this insight during a press statement in Lagos, emphasizing the significant growth potential within Africa’s aviation industry.

Responding to inquiries about intense competition in the aviation sector, Preez noted, “Competition isn’t always negative; often, it stimulates more people to fly, aiming to expand the aviation market and provide more individuals with the opportunity to travel.” He highlighted the substantial room for growth on the continent, given its current low share in the global travel market.

Expressing his optimism about the African market’s prospects in the next five to ten years, Preez identified the cost of travel throughout the value chain as a major impediment to growth. He explained that procuring fuel in Africa is often more expensive compared to many other global regions, amplifying the overall cost of operations. Additionally, airport operations in Africa tend to be notably costlier than elsewhere. Preez called for collaboration with governments to reassess regulations and find ways to facilitate easier travel, emphasizing that increased travel not only strengthens economies but also contributes to scaling down prices.

Addressing Qatar Airways’ recent decision to increase weekly flights in Nigeria, Preez stated that the airline has been continuously reviewing operations since the onset of COVID-19, seizing opportunities to scale up and expand. He highlighted Nigeria’s swift post-pandemic rebound and market resurgence, particularly in Lagos, Kano, Port Harcourt, and Abuja, as factors influencing the increased flight frequencies.

Despite acknowledging challenges, including the high cost of doing business in Africa, currency devaluation, and infrastructure limitations, Preez highlighted positive developments such as increased investments in airport infrastructure across the continent. He noted the opening of new airports in Nigeria and Luanda as examples of ongoing advancements.

Commenting on Qatar Airways’ operational performance in Africa in 2023, Preez noted a significant shift towards normalcy since the onset of COVID-19, despite factors such as reduced buying power, regulations, and the effects of inflation on revenue.

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