For years African travellers have relied on a handful of local airlines and more often, international carriers from Europe and even the UAE. So much so that it became common for passengers flying between African cities – even within the same country, to go via Dubai or London.
To do otherwise was to risk flying on aircraft of uncertain provenance, often under the command of bleary-eyed pilots. Many companies still forbid their staff and executives to travel across Africa on anything but an authorised list of airlines.
As a result, a business traveller flying from Lagos in Nigeria to Accra in Ghana - a mere 460km - may well go via London on British Airways, or stop over in Abu Dhabi on Etihad.
"It’s certainly still challenging to get around Africa," says Mory Camara, international account manager- Europe-Middle East & Africa at OAG, a digital flight data platform that assists airlines in scheduling. "But there has been some improvement in recent years and the need to travel to the UAE or some European city to connect isn’t quite as strong as it used to be."