Delta Air Lines has identified the potential for significant growth within the African air transport market. Connections through Delta routes could likely boost socio-economic development across all regions of the continent.
Business and leisure travel concentrated on cultural immersion and engagement has increased the demand for African destinations. According to Simple Flying, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) reported that African air traffic has significantly recuperated in 2023.
IATA mentioned that certain regions have surpassed pre-pandemic activity by more than 100 percent. Central and West Africa at 108 percent, Eastern Africa at 110 percent, and Northern Africa at 111 percent of 2019 levels. Southern Africa is the variant of the region as its passenger traffic is recovering slowly, at 86 percent of 2019 levels.
As aviation experts predict these numbers will steadily rise in 2024, Delta is looking to increase its footprint in Africa. The outlet states that the carrier reported positive trends in the first and second quarters of 2023 and anticipates a higher demand in the third and fourth quarters of the year.
Delta’s relationship with Africa spans over 17 years, longer than any other U.S. carrier. The airline’s hub in Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson (ATL) flies to several destinations in Africa, including 10 flights weekly to Johannesburg OR Tambo International (JNB) and Cape Town International (CPT).
Simple Flying shared a statement from Jimmy Eichelgruen, the Delta Director of Sales, Africa, Middle East & Indian Sub-Continent, regarding the airline’s hope to scale up operations in Africa.
“The US is vitally important, but it’s a mature market, so one has to look at international destinations,” Eichelgruen explained. “So we’ve got a very mature market, and then you’ve got Europe, for example, which is mature, then you look at IATA figures, what looks like a growth area, Africa. So obviously, it’s in our interest to spotlight Africa, and we are committed to serving Africa.”
Delta’s commitment to serving Africa includes tailoring its operations and inflight options to meet the requirements of passengers traveling between the United States and various African countries.
This includes serving traditional dishes from countries they are flying to and offering local channels as in-flight entertainment options.
The carrier is also focused on Africa’s community development and sustainability. Delta has initiated several projects to reduce waste and provide locals with employment. These efforts can currently be seen in the amenity kits handed out in business class.
According to Eichelgruen, the kits are “handmade” by locals and “use sustainable materials” that have already reduced the airline’s “plastic waste by 90,000 pounds a year.”