Local and foreign airlines fly daily from the various airports connecting people within the region and the international world. Some of the countries with in the great lakes region are land locked making air travel the best way they can connect to the rest of the world. Many airlines fly in, around and out of the region. These airlines are owned by both government and private individuals alike. But the open skies policy, coupled with the liberalisation of the industry with in the region, has meant/marked significant change in the market.
Full service carriers are airlines that normally have 2-4 service classes i.e first, business, premium economy and economy. They may offer passengers extra services such as inflight entertainment, meals, telephone services, Wi-Fi, beverages, online check in, checked baggage and comforts like pillows and blankets. Full service airlines mainly operate mid-range and long haul flights out of the region. Most of these airlines operate a hub and spoke system where all flights are channelled through one or two hubs and connections flights resume from there. Kenya Airlines, Ethiopian airlines and RwandAir are the domestically owned carriers that operate full services carriers. All these airlines have their hubs in the country’s respective capitals i.e. Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO) Nairobi, Addis Ababa Bole International Airport (ADD) Addis Ababa and Kigali International Airport (KGL) Kigali. These airlines offer both passenger and cargo services for customers. These entire airlines offer flights to all states of the region. They face competition from other African, European, Middle East and Asian airlines for the East African market.
Other African airlines that fly full service carriers to the different East African airports include; South African, Egypt Air, Air Mauritius, Royal Air Maroc, Sudan Airways, Air Djibouti, Air Zimbabwe, Malawian Airlines and Mozambique Airlines. European Airlines that offer full service in the region include; Brussels Airlines, KLM, Turkish Airlines, British Airlines, Virgin Airlines, Air France, Swiss International Airlines, Martin Air, Cargo Lux and Lufthansa. However some of these airlines serve the region through different airlines that are in their alliances. The profit margins for the European airlines have dropped partly due to the increased growth of Middle East Carriers. From the Middle East and Asia, the Emirates Airlines, Qatar Airways, Etihad Airlines, Air Arabia, China Southern Airlines, Dallo Airlines, Saudia Airlines, Fly Dubai, Air China Cargo, Gulf Air and Oman Airlines continue to maintain presence in the East African Space. These airlines are increasing the number of flights within the region from time to time.
Low Cost Carriers (LCCs) or No Frills or Budget Carriers are airlines that offer relatively low fares and lesser services. They ordinarily have only one class. The airlines charge for such extra service as food, baggage, seat allocation and priority boarding. These airlines normally operate only with in and around the region. They may be privately owned or even owned by the full service airlines.
The LCCs that operate in the region include; Jambo Jet, Fast Jet, Fly540, FlySax, African Express, Jubba Airways, Precision Air, Eagle Air, Golden Wings Aviation, InterAir South Africa, Tropica Air, Air Excel, Flight Link and Coastal Aviation. Some of these airlines operate charter flights mainly tourist destinations and islands. The economic growth in the region has attracted both the private sector and governments. The governments of Uganda and Tanzania for example for are all in the process of reviving national carriers. This will not only bring competition to the region but also further lower the prices of air travel and improve the services offered on flights. The region is well connected to all parts of the world through its own, other African, Middle East, Asian and European carriers. This will continue to grow the East African Economy.
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