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Ethiopia emerges as Aviation leader in Africa with $5.25 billion fleet


Ethiopia has emerged as a major leader in the aviation industry in Africa, boasting a remarkable fleet value of $5.25 billion.

According to a comprehensive analysis of the African air transport market conducted by AviationValues, Ethiopia has firmly established itself as the market leader in terms of aircraft fleet value.

Ethiopia emerges as Aviation leader in Africa with $5.25 billion fleet
Ethiopia emerges as Aviation leader in Africa with $5.25 billion fleet

The African continent is home to more than 100 airlines that operate scheduled flights to various domestic, regional, and international destinations. However, it is worth noting that the top ten airlines in Africa contribute to over 50% of the passenger traffic, while international carriers account for about 80% of air travel.

In terms of commercial passenger narrowbody and widebody aircraft, Africa currently represents only about 2.33% of the global fleet. Moreover, the market value of the African fleet stands at a slightly lower figure of 2.23%. Over the past four years, there has been a consistent trend of the market value being lower than the fleet count.

Between 2020 and 2022, the percentage of the African fleet witnessed a steady decline, while the gap between the fleet count and market value proportion continued to widen. During this period, there were only a few deliveries of high-value aircraft, including three A350-900s to Ethiopian Airlines and one A330-800 to Uganda Airlines. However, 2023 has seen a remarkable recovery, mainly driven by Ethiopian Airlines’ delivery of three high-value widebody aircraft.

While the rest of the world received approximately 200 high-value widebody aircraft between 2020 and 2022, Africa witnessed the delivery of around 86 similar aircraft in 2023 alone. This highlights the significant growth and progress that Ethiopia has achieved in the aviation sector, solidifying its position as a prominent player in the African market.

Ethiopian Airlines, undoubtedly the flagship carrier of Ethiopia, has played a pivotal role in this success story. The airline has continually expanded its fleet with the acquisition of state-of-the-art aircraft, ensuring it remains at the forefront of modern aviation technology. This dedication to excellence has not only bolstered Ethiopian Airlines’ reputation but has also contributed significantly to Ethiopia’s emergence as an aviation leader in Africa.

Ethiopia leads the African aviation industry

Ethiopia is at the forefront of the African aviation industry. With a current market value of $5.25 billion, it holds the highest market value in the continent. This can be credited to its national carrier, Ethiopian Airlines (ET), which continues to dominate the industry. While other countries may have more aircraft, ET boasts the largest fleet, consisting of several high-value models.

According to, Ethiopian Airlines has a fleet of 119 passenger aircraft, including 89 narrowbody and widebody jets as well as 30 turboprops. Among its impressive fleet are notable aircraft such as 14 Boeing 737 MAXs, 18 787 Dreamliners, and 20 Airbus A350-900s. These top-of-the-line models contribute significantly to Ethiopia’s fleet value.

As Ethiopia leads with its thriving aviation industry, it showcases its commitment to excellence and growth within the African continent.

Ethiopia vs The Rest of Africa: A Comparative Analysis

Ethiopia emerges as Aviation leader in Africa with $5.25 billion fleet
Ethiopia emerges as Aviation leader in Africa with $5.25 billion fleet

In the realm of aviation, Ethiopia has emerged as a force to be reckoned with. With a market value nearly 50% larger than that of Egypt, the second-ranking country, and higher than all countries outside the top 5 combined, Ethiopia’s dominance in the African aviation market is undeniable. This fact becomes even more intriguing when considering that Ethiopia has only 66% of Egypt’s fleet, representing less than 25% of the total African fleet. This article explores the reasons behind Ethiopia’s exceptional performance and compares it to the aviation landscape in the rest of Africa.

Egypt, with its national carrier Egyptair, is a key player in the African aviation industry. Boasting a fleet of 75 passenger aircraft, Egypt’s market value is primarily driven by the success of its national carrier. Over the years, Egypt’s fleet has been steadily growing, resulting in increased market value. This growth can be attributed to the additions of new high-value aircraft such as the A320neos and Embraer 190s, which were delivered to Egyptair and Air Cairo.

On the other hand, Morocco and Kenya have experienced a different trajectory. While their fleet counts have remained relatively stable over the past four years, their fleet values have decreased. This can be attributed to the financial challenges faced by their national carriers, Royal Air Maroc and Kenya Airways, respectively. These airlines have not been able to acquire new high-value aircraft in significant numbers. However, both countries have plans in place to enhance their fleets in the future, indicating a commitment to improving their market value.

In South Africa, the situation is unique due to the downfall of the flag carrier, South African Airways. As a result, the fleet value in South Africa has declined since the start of the pandemic. In this country, the private sector, represented by airlines like Airlink and FlySafair, has taken the lead in driving the fleet value. This highlights the importance of the private sector in sustaining the aviation industry in South Africa during challenging times.

Now, let’s delve into Ethiopia’s success and unravel the factors that have contributed to its exceptional performance in the African aviation market. One key aspect is the presence of Ethiopian Airlines, the country’s national carrier and Africa’s largest airline. Ethiopian Airlines has established itself as a global player, with a reputation for reliability, quality service, and operational excellence. The airline has made strategic investments in expanding its fleet, introducing new routes, and enhancing its overall customer experience. This has resulted in increased market value and a position of leadership in the African aviation landscape.

Ethiopia’s strategic location also plays a significant role in its dominance. Situated at a crossroads between Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, Ethiopia serves as a hub for international travel. Ethiopian Airlines has leveraged this advantage by establishing itself as a major transit hub, connecting travelers from various regions. This has not only contributed to the growth of the airline but has also bolstered Ethiopia’s overall market value in the aviation industry.

Future Outlook: A Promising Future for African Air Transport

Africa’s air transport market has long been perceived as lagging behind the rest of the world, with an aging aircraft fleet and limited market value. However, the future outlook for the African aviation industry is looking increasingly promising, with several carriers ready to take delivery of newer and higher-value aircraft in the coming years.

One of the main reasons for the significant difference between Africa’s fleet count and market value proportions is the age of the aircraft in operation. The average age of Africa’s aircraft ranges between 17 and 19 years, making it one of the oldest fleets in the world. This has impacted both the market value and the overall competitiveness of African airlines.

Despite these challenges, there is reason to be optimistic about the future. According to AviationValues, African operators have placed 152 firm orders for narrowbody and widebody aircraft. Although this represents only 0.7% of the global firm order backlog, it is a significant step forward for the African aviation industry.

Leading the way in terms of firm orders is Ethiopian Airlines, with orders for 51 aircraft. This includes 10 Airbus A350s, 30 Boeing 737 MAXs, and 11 Boeing 787s. Ethiopian Airlines has ambitious plans to nearly double its fleet by 2035, positioning itself as one of the world’s top airlines. This growth strategy is not unique, as other African carriers like TAAG Angola Airlines and Royal Air Maroc also have plans to expand their fleets in the coming years.

TAAG Angola Airlines aims to add more than 25 new planes to its fleet by 2027, while Royal Air Maroc plans to quadruple its fleet to operate at least 200 aircraft by 2037. These carriers have already started placing orders for new aircraft, indicating a positive future outlook for the African air transport market.

In addition to these major players, other African carriers such as Air Peace, Air Algérie, Air Mauritius, and Ibom Air also have firm orders for new aircraft. This demonstrates a growing confidence in the African aviation industry and a recognition of the need for modern and fuel-efficient aircraft.

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