Air connectivity between India and Africa has got a boost with three new services to Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania. Around two million passengers flew between India and Africa in twelve months ending May, a growth of four per cent over the previous year.
Air Tanzania introduced a thrice-weekly service between Mumbai and Dar es Salaam in July, establishing the first direct connection between the two countries since 2010. Air India is resuming flights between Mumbai and Nairobi from September-end and Ethiopian Airlines is launching an Addis Ababa-Bengaluru service on October 27, the first non-stop connection between South India and continental Africa.
Over 80 per cent of the traffic between India and Africa flies via a hub and direct connections are limited. Currently there are non-stop flights from India to only seven countries in Africa which includes the islands of Mauritius and Seychelles. South Africa, Mauritius, Egypt, Kenya and Nigeria are the key destinations on the continent. South Africa is the largest destination for Indians and around 800 passengers fly between two countries daily. However there are no direct flights.
"Ethiopian Airlines is a significant player in connecting India with Africa and beyond. The new four-weekly flights will connect the important ICT hub of Bengaluru to the ever-expanding Ethiopian network," said Tewolde GebreMariam, group CEO, Ethiopian Airlines. The airline hopes to tap student and medical tourism traffic between India and Africa. Ethiopian Airlines could provide easy connections to other cities in South India via Bengaluru.
"We see a lot of business traffic between India and Africa. The visiting friends and relatives travel segment is also strong given the Indian diaspora in the continent. The new flights will increase access and may lower fares. Africa is a niche and expensive destination and the new connections will facilitate more leisure travel," said Rakshit Desai, managing director of FCM Travel Solutions.