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Western Europe-North Africa routes display a unique and previously unseen pattern

As was the case across the rest of Africa, airline service patterns are closely linked to colonial and cultural ties, but the points of European origin are decidedly different. Not only are secondary airports like Orly and Gatwick represented, but regional airports in France also make the list. The region has also been hard hit in the past year by popular uprisings with Tunisia, then Egypt and finally Libya dramatically affected by the changes, with impressive socio-political upheaval still in process.

This is the latest in a series of route analysis articles by CAPA.

Top 25 Routes Europe-North Africa (03-Oct-2011 to 09-Oct-2011) by Seats

1

ORY

Paris Orly

ALG

Algiers Houari Boumediene

17,692

2

ORY

Paris Orly

CMN

Casablanca Mohammed V

13,275

3

CDG

Paris Charles De Gaulle

ALG

Algiers Houari Boumediene

12,758

4

LHR

London Heathrow

CAI

Cairo

12,616

5

ORY

Paris Orly

RAK

Marrakech Menara

11,204

6

ORY

Paris Orly

TUN

Tunis Carthage

11,045

7

CDG

Paris Charles De Gaulle

CAS

Casablanca Mohammed V

10,148

8

IST

Istanbul Ataturk

CAI

Cairo

9,045

9

CDG

Paris Charles De Gaulle

CAI

Cairo 

8,038

10

CDG

Paris Charles De Gaulle

TUN

Tunis Carthage

7,866

11

LGW

London Gatwick

RAK

Marrakech Menara

7,666

12

FCO

Rome Fiumicino

CAI

Cairo

7,510

13

MAD

Madrid Barajas

RAK

Marrakech Menara

7,212

14

FCO

Rome Fiumicino

TUN

Tunis Carthage

7,070

15

MRS

Marseille

ALG

Algiers Houari Boumediene

6,818

16

MAD

Madrid Barajas

TNG

Tangier Ibn Batouta

6,620

17

ORY

Paris Orly

AGA

Agadir Al Massira

6,614

18

FRA

Frankfurt

CAI

Cairo

6,504

19

MXP

Milan Malpensa

CAI

Cairo

6,248

20

ORY

Paris Orly

ORN

Oran Es Senia

6,082

21

MAD

Madrid Barajas

CMN

Casablanca Mohammed V

5,542

22

LGW

London Gatwick

SSH

Sharm el-Sheikh

5,398

23

LYS

Lyon Satolas

ALG

Algiers Houari Boumediene

5,344

24

FCO

Rome Fiumicino

CMN

Casablanca Mohammed V

5,102

25

FCO

Rome Fiumicino

ALG

Algiers Houari Boumediene

5,020

Lingering service reductions with political stability the key to a rebound.

While the number of flights to Tunisia has rebounded, the Ministry of Tourism reports that visitors have fallen by 40% in the first three quarters of 2011. Unfortunately, the largest bloc of tourists comes from Libya, a group which would likely not be as dependent on air transport. That situation is unlikely to right itself any time soon.

The effects on Libya, given that the final phases of the revolution are yet to unfold, remain the most pronounced, with air service to the capital, Tripoli, still virtually non-existent. There are currently only flights to Algeria and Tunis. Benghazi, in the East, has had service restored to Amman, Cairo, Tunis and Istanbul.

Comparison of Tripoli (TIP) services 2010-2011

Tripoli Services

2010

2011

Sub Saharan Africa

37

0

N. Africa-Mideast

119

32

Europe

 

129

0

Egypt very hard hit

Egypt, the most populous nation in the region has recovered somewhat, but overall service to Europe remains a bit down over 2010. In summer 2011, tourism numbers had dropped by over 35% in the second quarter, 2011, and with 90% of visitors arriving by air, any reduced air service is symptomatic of a far greater economic malady.

Increase/Decrease of flights to Cairo (Aug 2010-Sep 2011)

French influence, French dominance

The service patterns are dominated by the French and their former colonial holdings, with 12 out of the 25 European endpoints being in France. The North African endpoints all have, over their recent history, fallen into the French “sphere of influence” and tied them in some measure to that European nation.

Except for Cairo and unlike many other regions served from Europe, the presence of UK and German carriers is very limited.

European Endpoints

North African Endpoints

Tourism is the key

The African countries that border the Mediterranean are popular tourist destinations, offering a combination of stunning beaches and sights that date to antiquity. However for the near term, political unrest will likely keep demand below traditional levels and continue to limit growth in the region.

While a semblance of order has returned to both Egypt and Tunisia, there are a great many issues to be resolved before tourists will once again fill all those available seats. And for Libya, that date is even more distant. Nonetheless, the destinations hold timeless draws for visitors and a newly defined and perhaps more prosperous Middle East bodes well for these popular sites. But not just yet.