Africa’s aviation industry is riddled with issues of poor quality standards, inconsistency, ageing fleet of aircrafts et al, but amid all these issues there are some airlines that stands out when it comes to air travel business.
Aviation remains one of the major catalyst engineering growth in Africa’s tourism industry and Africa’s top airlines are mostly left with the task of transporting tourists and businessmen to and fro the length and breadth of the continent.
With new airlines adding up to various destinations and others doubling their routes, Africa remains a great spot for all business endeavours and tourism especially in a world that is increasingly homogenous, fiercely independent cultures with places which are especially intriguing.
The seeming northern trend of investments, the need to move from Jo’ burg through Accra to Casablanca in the safest, fastest and most comfortable means cannot be over-emphasized. Whereas investors need CEOs shuttling between Lagos and Nairobi in double quick time closing deals, forming mergers and making acquisitions of interest. Thus, the fastest option is Air travel.
Let’s explore some African airlines that deliver quality service to passengers. Check out the top 5 below.
1. Ethiopian AirlinesArguably the most profitable airline in Africa! The aircraft is wholly owned by the government and was launched in December 1945 and commenced operations on 8 April 1946, expanding to international flights in 1951.
Ethiopia’s flag carrier flies to more destinations in Africa than any other carrier. It is one of the fastest-growing companies in the industry. With its hub and headquarters at Bole International Airport from where it serves a network of 113 passenger destinations —19 of the domestic— and 35 freighter destinations, the proud member of the Star Alliance since December, 2011 operates with a fleet of 42 passenger and 6 freighter planes and offers services to 62 international and 17 domestic destinations.
Ethiopian Airlines has 3 stars from five-star ranking criteria by Skytrax.
2. South African Airways With its headquarters situated at Airways Park at OR Tambo International Airport, South African Airways is the largest airline in South Africa.
South African Airways has its routes to 56 destinations worldwide. The Musa Zwane managed brand is in partnership with SA Express, SA Airlink and its low-cost carrier, Mango, within South Africa and across the continent.
It adds nine intercontinental routes from its Johannesburg  hub at OR Tambo International Airport, using a fleet of 54 aircraft.
By 2016 South African Airways had 8,525 employees.
3. Air MauritiusAir Mauritius has an important standing in the European, African and Indian Ocean regional market. The air travel brand is operating just off the southeast coast of Africa, in the Indian Ocean and its headquarters is situated at the Air Mauritius Centre, Port Louis, Mauritius. Its main hub is Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport.
It has been regarded as one of the safest airlines in Africa – this was confirmed by Aviation Safety Network as the airline has not suffered any accident or incident leading to fatality. With a fleet size of 12 and operations in 26 destinations, Air Mauritius also performs a range of services for international airlines.
The company is the fourth largest carrier in Sub-Saharan Africa. The airline won the “2011 Indian Ocean Leading Airline Prize”, making it the seventh year in a row for it to win the award.
4. Air SeychellesFor the Republic of Seychelles, with its head office located at Seychelles International Airport on the island of Mahé comes Air Seychelles.
Operating inter-island services, charter services and international flights, its main base is Seychelles International Airport. As the main driver of tourism in Seychelles, it is one of the core pillars of the national economy. The airline offers international flights to Abu Dhabi, Antananarivo, Johannesburg, Mauritius, Mumbai, Durban, Düsseldorf and Paris.
Air Seychelles also operates daily domestic flights and charter services throughout the archipelago. It is 40% owned by Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates.
5. Kenya AirwaysAfter the dissolution of East African Airways, Kenya Airways Limited, more commonly known as Kenya Airways was born. Kenya’s flag carrier has its head office located in Embakasi, Nairobi, with its hub at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
The airline was wholly owned by the Government of Kenya until April 1995, and it was privatised in 1996, becoming the first African flag carrier to successfully do so. Kenya Airways is currently a public-private partnership with Government of Kenya owning 29.8.% followed by KLM, which has a 26.73% stake in the company. The rest of the shares are held by private owners; shares are traded on the Nairobi Stock Exchange, the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange, and the Uganda Securities Exchange.
The airline became a full member of SkyTeam in June 2010 and is also a member of the African Airlines Association since 1977. It has been considered as one of the leading Sub-Saharan operators.
Kenya Airways was also ranked fourth among the top ten African airlines by seat capacity, behind South African Airways, Ethiopian Airlines and EgyptAir.
There are other comfortable airlines Africa can pride itself on. A few others include Royal Air Maroc, TAAG Angola Airlines, Fastjet Plc, just to mention a few.