Chingosho warns of the threats to the LCC market in Africa
As auditors question the viability of LCC Fastjet, African Airlines Association secretary general Elijah Chingosho has warned that the low-cost airline sector in Africa faces fundamental issues that threaten to block access to cheap flights for much of the continent's population.
Speaking at the IATA annual general meeting in Cape Town, Chingosho warned that taxes and fuel cost will damage the entire viability of the LCC model.
"Africa is a huge continent but also the poorest and the surface infrastructure is poor, so there is a need for low-cost carriers,” Chingosho said. "The cost of doing business in Africa is a major problem because governments levy very high taxes on airlines and on fuel and there is still a limited penetration of credit cards and internet use in Africa."
There is also a lack of secondary airports which means the model that has worked in Europe is not able to be replicated in Africa. “Very few major cities have secondary airports, and where they do have they are very inconvenient and the charges are very similar to main airports," Chingosho said.
Exorbitant fuel charges are still at the heart of the problem Chingosho said. “For airlines in most regions of the world, the cost of fuel is typically around 30-35% of operating costs, but in Africa it is 45-55%. We are working to persuade governments and oil companies to reduce costs with some success, but more needs to be done,” he said