The world is facing an airport capacity crisis. How about Africa?

airport capacity
3 min read

With passenger levels projected to nearly double to 7.8 billion by 2036, IATA has warned that the global aviation industry could soon be facing an airport capacity crisis. This was discussed at the International Air Transport Association (IATA)’s AGM in Sydney, Australia.

“We are in a capacity crisis. And we don’t see the required airport infrastructure investment to solve it,” said IATA chief Alexandre de Juniac, adding that most governments struggle to move quickly and that the cash-strapped state of their finances is fuelling a trend of looking to the private sector for solutions.

De Juniac mentioned that almost half (46%) of the 100 busiest passenger airports globally have some form of private sector involvement, but he warned that privatised airports have “not lived up to airline expectations” with many carriers having “far too many bitter experiences”.

IATA projected global air passenger traffic to rise by 6.5 percent this year to 4.36 billion, after increases of 7.0 and 7.3 percent in 2016 and 2017 respectively.

How about Africa?

Currently, Africa’s aviation industry remains comparatively small, only accounting for between 2-3% of the global market. However, air traffic across Africa is projected to grow at a very fast pace and is even estimated to triple in the next 20 years, according to the International Quality and Productivity Center (IQPC).

African countries including Kenya, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, South Africa and Rwanda have all embarked on plans to improve their airport infrastructure – from new terminals and runways to metro links to upgrades, renovation and repair.

IQPC says increasing foreign investment has caused many African countries to enhance their national carriers and overall airport capacity to support growing aviation requirements and collectively establish pan-African regulatory standards.

Civil aviation authorities across the continent are also investing millions to enhance safety and security, runway modifications, expanding terminals and more while keeping the passenger experience at an all-time high.

Check out some of the projects undertaken in Africa


Abuja International Airport – new Terminal at a price tag of $1bn

To be completed: June 2018

Abidjan International Airport Metro Link at a price tag of $1.6bn

To be completed: late 2019

Remodelling of 22 Nigerian Airport terminals at a price tag of $100m

To be completed: 2022


Addis Ababa New Airport City

This project will see the construction of a large-scale international airport with four major runways. It will expand the passenger capacity from the current 22 million to more than 80 million.

To be initiated in 2020


Moi International Airport upgrades at a price tag of $69m

Initiated: beginning 2018

Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) Carpark Management System at a price tag of $100m

Tender still to be awarded

JKIA second runway at a price tag of $365.5m

To be initiated: June 2018


The new Bugesera International Airport Construction at a price tag of $765m

To be completed: Phase 1 by December 2019

South Africa

Cape Town International Runway upgrades at a price tag of $315m.

Initiation Date: Early 2019

IQPC will discuss airport trends and construction in Africa at the Modern Airports Africa Conference 2018, which will be taking place in Nairobi, Kenya, from 21 – 22 August 2018.