Published on : Friday, September 1, 2017
New research from global travel technology provider, Sabre Corporation, has revealed that almost 6 in 10 travellers from the US and UK would consider flying with an African airline if travelling to the continent – suggesting a growing confidence in African aviation. This figure rises to 7 in 10 among Americans aged 25-34 years.
The research also revealed that 60% of Americans aged 25-34 years see African airlines as attractive alternatives to their own countries’ carriers. Two thirds of these travellers were also confident that the experience, price and customer service on African airlines would be the same as that offered by their own country carriers.
“Confidence in African airlines is the highest it’s been among some of Africa’s key inbound tourism markets,” said Dino Gelmetti, vice president EMEA, Airline Solutions, Sabre. “This creates a golden opportunity for African airlines to compete globally for inbound passenger traffic, 80% of which is operated by international carriers today. Our research also suggests an opportunity for African airlines to target specific groups of travellers – like young Americans – who are already positive about their brands. By investing in technology, airlines can analyse the needs of these travellers and tailor products and services accordingly.”
Sabre’s research, which surveyed 2,000 travellers from the UK and US, aimed to identify the challenges and opportunities faced by African airlines, in a bid to help them become profitable. African airlines posted a combined profit of just $100 million in 2016 – the lowest of all global regions. Just one carrier on the continent currently makes a significant profit – Ethiopian Airlines.
Brits versus Americans
Travellers from the US and UK share a common interest in Africa – being two of the continent’s largest inbound tourism markets. The two nations also said their three top reasons for choosing a flight were price, schedule and duration. However, American and British travellers were otherwise different. Twenty percent of Brits said they would choose an airline based on its reputation, while 25% of Americans would choose an airline based on loyalty offerings. British travellers were also much more motivated by price, while Americans considered a wider range of factors when choosing an airline – such as loyalty schemes, inflight entertainment, onboard technology and reputation.
When travelling to Africa, respondents also expressed an interest in a travel experience that was tailored towards them. This was particularly important for younger American travellers (under 35s) with almost one in five saying they would choose an airline based on this. An earlier study found that American and European travellers would be willing to spend almost $100 on extras to personalise their journeys – such as leg room, upgrades and excess baggage.
Despite a willingness to spend on travel, these are the top factors that prevent travellers from visiting Africa more often – which carriers must address:
“Airlines globally pocket an average revenue of just $16 per passenger on extras, so the fact that travellers from the UK and US are prepared to spend six times more than that represents a significant retail opportunity for carriers,” said Gelmetti. “The African airline industry could flourish by addressing traveller pain points to attract these high-spending visitors. Technology that can offer travellers the right product in the right context at the right time will then empower them to mirror the personalised shopping tactics already mastered by the online retail industry. This technology has been shown to increase airline ancillary revenue by an average of 10 percent, and is already used by some of the world’s leading carriers.”