Deals From Airlines

6 Reasons Why Flying Within Africa is Expensive

is Kenya Airways reliable
Written by Teresa Mwangi

There is a lot of mindboggling stuff in the world’s second-largest continent but none beats the never-ending question of what makes flights within Africa so expensive.

Flying to a different continent is more affordable than taking a flight to another African country. It is a longstanding debate that people always talk about in a thoughtful way. These high-cost air tickets within the continent hurdle the region’s growth and development in different sectors. One of them is tourism with a few fronts such as business and leisure tourism.

Why Are Flights Within Africa Expensive?

High taxes, and fuel costs compound reasons that make flights within Africa so expensive. For instance, a direct flight from Berlin, the German capital to Istanbul in Turkey has the cheapest flight tickets going for $150. It is a 900-mile distance and it only takes at least three hours.  Introspect, flying from Kinshasa, the capital city of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to Lagos in Nigeria, an equal distance to Berlin-Turkey will set you back between $500 to $850 in flight tickets. What’s more, is that the flight could take at least 10 hours.

Why is this the case though? Here are several reasons that make intra-African travel an expensive affair.

most profitable African airlines

Ethiopian Airlines. Photo/News Central TV

High Cost of Fuel

Fuel cost is a major factor in the pricing of tickets for travel within Africa. The cost of fuel costs in Africa than in other parts of the world. Taxes and duties levied on jet fuel and transportation costs contribute to the high cost of fuelling African aircraft.

High Taxation on Airlines

African governments impose high taxes and fees on airlines, which drives the cost of airfare. The rationale behind the huge taxes levied by governments is to collect more revenue and it trickles down to passengers via high airfare.

Lack of Modern Airport Infrastructure

Some African airports are not as efficient as those in other parts of the world. Outdated equipment, and poor management raise the operation costs of airports and passengers sustain it by purchasing expensive air tickets.


Some African airlines enjoy a monopoly due to a lack of competition which makes their ticket pricing draconian. A lack of low-cost airlines in a majority of these African countries leaves passengers with no option other than making do with the available expensive carriers.

Distance and Routes

Africa is the second-largest continent in the world. Therefore, some flight routes cover long distances with limited demand. This makes flights within Africa so expensive because such routes demand more fuel which is expensive and higher operational costs for the airline which often features in high airfare.

Political and Regulatory Factors

Political instability in some African countries makes air travel very expensive. In addition, regulatory challenges, and bureaucratic hurdles negatively impact airlines’ operations and increase their costs.

Why Are Flights To Nigeria So Expensive?

You must have Nigeria in mind as you ponder over why flights within Africa so expensive. Travelling to West Africa from any other African country in a different region costs an arm and a leg. One of the major reasons fueling this is bureaucracy by the Nigerian government that ultimately raises taxes, fuel and operational costs for Naija airlines. Yet, it’s the passengers who shoulder this burden.

expensive African airlines

Air Nigeria. Photo/Premium Times Nigeria

Fairfax Africa Fund chairman Zemedeneh Negatu tells BBC that some bilateral agreements between different nations are to blame. They end up suppressing business and plunging airlines to losses. Fairfax is an American-based investment firm.

What Is The Cheapest Airline In Africa?

While thinking about what makes flights within Africa so expensive, you can’t help but wonder what the cheapest airline in Africa is.  It’s a valid question because the continent starves of low-budget airlines. However, South African airline, FlySafair is arguably Africa’s cheapest airline.

Although it is mostly known for its domestic flights, it also flies beyond the South African skies at affordable rates. Others include:

  • Mango
  • Arik Air
  • Dana Air
  • Skywise
  • Fastjet


Integration of the aviation sector within Africa is the ultimate solution to dealing with the expensive flight costs within Africa. This is a concept that major European carriers such as KLM and Air France use in promoting affordable air travel. Major players in Europe’s aviation sector understand that airlines thrive and offer less expensive, more dependable services, by coming together. Thus, Africa’s fragmented aviation sector with most carriers operating as single entities only pushes the operational costs higher.

SAT advert

About the author

Teresa Mwangi

Teresa is a journalist with years of experience in creating web content. She is a wanderlust at heart, loves travelling and telling stories about tour and travel in Africa by every angle.

Leave a Comment