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Are low-cost airlines making air travel accessible in and around African cities?

Updated: Jun 5, 2023


Air transport in Africa post-independence saw a sharp rise and a gradual fall from mid twentieth century to the early years of the twenty-first century. Most airlines then were owned and controlled mainly by the state with few international partners mainly from Europe and North America.

However, as economic conditions worse and slowly begun to get better, Africa saw the emergence of many players one again in the air transport sector. East Africa given its leading developmental trajectory has the fastest growing air travel industry in Africa.

With recent development, the aviation sector of Africa has seem significant emergence of Low-cost Carriers( LCCs) piercing into the air trnasport market over the past twenty-some years. Though currently the airlines have a skewed success story to the East African region, policies been rolled out by other African countries seek to increase accessibility within the next few years through critical implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision.


Following the promising development underway in the eastern regions of Africa, the airline industry is not sitting around for later. Tourism especially is increasingly becoming popular within East Africa.

Be it the intriguing highs and lows of Kenya; the fascinating culture of Ethiopia; the vibrant landscapes of Uganda; the greens and blues of Zanzibar or the thrilling volcanoes parks of Rwanda, there is something about East Africa that makes it the most cozy tourist region of the continent.

You sure want Melanin Travels to start preparing you an itinerary for your next

getaway as we have packages for East Africa and South Africa. You need to check out one or two countries of the region before the year ends. You’d be yearning for more.

Airlines Operating In South Africa

According to the ranking of the top ten airlines in Africa by CNN Travel, all airlines operated within the Eastern and Southern Africa region.

Also, the top five low-cost carriers by Skytrax4, all came from the same region. Thus, the East Africa and South Africa regions have the most accessibility on the continent. This goes a long way to explain why the region has some of the leading tourist destinations in Africa.

Some of the airlines you might be looking out for during your next trip in SA include:

Fastjet operates mainly in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botwana. They serve cities such as:

Johannesburg, Nelspruit, Victoria Falls, Harare, Bulawayo, Hwange, Kariba, Maun.

EX: Typical route fare from Harare to Johasnesburg, one way: $212.69.

Nicknamed as SA’s favourite low-cost airline, flysafair is a domestic South African airline that opened operations in 2014 and fly to and from Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, East London, Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth), George, Bloemfontein, Mauritius and Zanzibar.

EX: Typical route fare from Cape town to East London, one-way: : $180.79

Mango was a low-cost flight company from the bigger National Carrier, South African Airways.

However, during the time of the composition of this blog post, the airline had closed operations in 2021 due to financial constraints.

EX: Typical route fare from to Johannesburg, one-way: $75.41.

Lift is a carefully curated domestic airline in South Africa. A joint venture by Gidon Novick and ACMI and charter provider Global Aviation Operations. The airline aside scheduling flights - to Joburg, Capetown and Durban - has other auxiliary services like wallet service to ease resourcefullnes and easy flight planning.

EX: Typical route fare Durban to Joburg, one-way: $45.98.

With over thirty-years of experience in the air, Airlink serves sufficicently, the southern region of Africa and thirteen other African countries.

The airline is a private company that has many international affiliations.

They serve flights to thirty-four southern Africa locations including Madagascar. The South African based airline fly domestically and to the following countries in the region: Namibia, Botswana, Uganda, DRC, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, St.Helena Island, Zambia, Angola and Lesotho.

EX: Typical route fare from South Africa (Gorge) to Zimbabwe (Bulawayo), one-way: $311.06.

Airlines Operating In East Africa

Fly540 offers on scheduled flights all year round to destinations within Kenya‚ South Sudan and Zanzibar. The company is headquartered in Nairobi and operate from the Jomo Kenyatta International and Wilson Airports.

Destinations they serve include:

Eldoret‚ Lamu‚ Mombasa, Kisumu‚ Lodwar‚ Malindi and across skies to Juba and Zanzibar

NOTE: At the time of researching for this article, fly540 website had glitches hences no fare were accessible.

Jambojet is Kenya's first low-cost airline. A branch company of Kenyan Airways. They offer flights from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi.

“We aim to provide affordable air travel because flying really is for everyone.”

Jambojet serve key cities such as:

Eldoret, Kisumu, Malindi, Mombasa, Diani (Ukunda), Lamu and Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo.

EX: Typical route fare from Mombasa to Nairobi, one-way: $49.41.

Airlines Operating In West Africa

Since their inception in the late 1950s, Ghana Airways and Nigerian Airways improved significantly the accessibility within Africa. Ghana Airways before its closure in 2004 connected West Africa to Ethiopia to the north; Senegal to the far west; Kenya to the east; DRC in the centre and South Africa to the south.

Currently, there are barely two airlines operating successfully within the region.

Currently, about three low-cost airlines operate within the West African belt:

This airline serves international and domestic flights within the region. The airline since they flew in the west African air space in 2012 offers flights to: Abuja, Lagos, Accra, Kumasi, Tamale, Wa, Takoradi and Sunyani.

EX: Typical route fare Abuja (Nigeria) to Accra (Ghana), one-way: $422.83.

The ‘love’ airline is a domestic airline in Ghana. They operate daily flights which connect the entire country through major cities and towns such as Accra, Kumasi, Sunyani, Takoradi, Wa and Tamale.

EX: Typical route fare from Kumasi to Accra, one-way: $65.45.

Flyasky covers the largest network within the region. The company has been in operation since November 2007. The company was established to facilitate accessibility within the region following the bankruptcy of Air Afrique.

They fly in and out of the following locations: Abidjan, Abuja, Accra, Bamako, Bangui, Banjul, Bissau, Brazzaville, Cotonou, Conakry, Dakar, Duoala, Sao Tome, Freetown, Johannesburg, Kinshasa, Lagos, Libreville, Lome, Malabo, Monrovia, N'Djamena, Niamey, Ouagadougou, Yaounde, Praia

EX: Typical route fare from Dakar (Senegal )to Accra (Ghana), one-way: $741.97.

Compared to the operations in East Africa and southern Africa, west Africa has a more expensive cost of flying. As such, most west African cities are preferably accessed via road.


Whereas flying neighboring countries in Africa, especially West Africa, can be very expensive, enjoying the feel of road trips, which we highly recommend, can be the less expensive yet lovely experience you would have.

For instance from Ghana, State Transport Company (STC) makes Benin, Burkina Faso, Togo and Ivory Coast very accessible by road. Interestingly, the company has plans to expand into Nigeria and Niger soon.

Also, from Kenya, South Africa or Namibia are accessible by road.

Given the abundance of water in the eastern region, Zanzibar, Tanzania is very accessible by ferry from Kenya.


Undoubtedly, South Africa and East Africa carry with them, a modern torch of Africa’s development in almost all sectors of their economies. Over the years, the regions despite their short comings have undergone serious development and are promising better days ahead. From road transport to aviation to art and tourism, the region is both promising for investments and leisure.

Where as the low-cost airlines industry is still plagued with a number of challenges, their mere existence in the system only promises that improvements are highly possible.

Accessibility has seen improvement over the course of twenty years by the presence of low-cost carriers but more remains to be done especially in west and north Africa as our African elders say, “Plenty meat does not spoil soup.”

Committed to feeding you resourceful information on how to explore Africa, our job would be incomplete if we do not show you the packages we have installed for clients.

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