Air transport supports 6.2 million jobs and $55.8 billion in African economic activity. That is 1.8% of all employment and 2.6% of all GDP in African countries in 2016.


Every person employed by the aviation sector directly, and in aviation enabled tourism, supported another 14.8 jobs elsewhere in Africa. Similarly, $5.40 of economic activity was supported elsewhere in Africa for every $1 created by the air transport sector.

In Africa the aviation sector employed over 415,000 people directly in 2016. Analysis of these workers suggests:

  • 146,400 (35% of the total) were employed by airlines or handling agents in roles such as flight crew, check-in staff, maintenance crew, or head office staff
  • 33,200 (8%) had jobs with airport operators such as airport management, maintenance, and security
  • 192,800 (46.5%) worked on-site in airports in retails outlets, restaurants, and hotels
  • 28,600 (7%) were employed in civil aircraft manufacturing, including systems, components, airframes, and engines
  • 14,500 (3.5%) worked for air navigation service providers in jobs like air traffic control and engineering

Airlines, airport operators, retailers and other on-site businesses, as well as air navigation services and civil aircraft manufacturers all contribute to GDP in Africa. In 2016, the operations of these businesses generated $10.3 billion directly to GDP.

The aviation sector’s spending with suppliers is estimated to have supported a further 601,000 jobs and a $6.8 billion contribution to GDP. In addition, spending by those employed in the aviation sector and its supply chain supported 248,000 more jobs and a $2.8 billion contribution to Africa’s GDP.

Air travel also facilitates a substantial amount of tourism in Africa. This stimulates still more economic activity, as tourists spend their money in restaurants, hotels, shops, tour operators, and on other consumer goods and services. In 2016, spending by foreign visitors who flew to African countries supported an estimated 4.9 million jobs and contributed $35.9 billion to GDP.