Are you connected with Africa?

Victoria
By Victoria January 24, 2012 15:29

Are you connected with Africa?

Buried in the news below this editorial comment are a number of stories that alludes to the importance of air travel for migrants working abroad. Air Arabia for example is growing very fast indeed on the back of South East Asian migrant workers travelling in comfort at little cost. More Chinese are now working abroad than there are French living in France. In fact it is estimated by the CEIC, OCAC, MOIA and US Census Bureau that globally some 65-80m Chinese are working beyond the borders of China itself. Indians are catching up fast with no less than 50m working beyond the borders of the homeland.
Chinese working abroad are now responsible for most of the foreign direct investment that flows back into the mother country, estimated in 2010 to be worth some $105bn.
If we were to draw a global map of where Indian and Chinese passport holders are currently working in the world today then we can in theory draw a route map for an airline that would show prime route networks for the next decade to capture the transit of the Chinese and Indian labor force. This we have done and it mirrors closely what Emirates already has and Qatar will have before long. But interestingly only one route network mirrors the global map of migrant workers almost exactly and that is Singapore Airlines (SIA). The addition of Scoot, its low-cost arm, only further brings about a precise match. Vietnam and Peru are the fastest growing nations for Chinese migrant workers while the USA is seeing an explosion of Indian migrant workers. The march in growth of SIA, Emirates and the other Middle Eastern flag carriers, along with indeed Qantas are supported by ever growing numbers of passengers and thus the huge aircraft numbers on order from the Middle Eastern carriers and those of SIA and Qantas seem to be, on the face of this information, in need of an upward revision.

Europe, with the exception of the British Isles, has a very small migrant Indian and Chinese population on a par with Eastern Africa in fact and thus does not get a look-in on large numbers of transits by the same. This little exercise further underlines the need to sort out the regulatory situation in India. Indian airlines should be doing well but the migrant population is choosing to use Middle Eastern carriers as their first choice link to the homeland. Given the lead that the Middle Eastern carriers have at this point it is unlikely that Indian carriers will ever be able to gain back this essential market and this leaves a question mark on some of the massive orders from carriers in this country. This does not bode well for Air India, Jet or Kingfisher on International routes, they currently cannot compete and their domestic price war woes compound the issue.

But we must not dwell on the current but look to the future and the future at present is transit between Africa and China – this is the big market of this decade and it is growing fast. The carriers of the Middle East are well aware of this as are expanding in Africa at pace and creating the norm of transit through Dubai or the like. The Guangzhou district of China is the hub of the expat African population and although it is still only some 80,000 strong it is growing at a current rate of over 10,000 migrants per annum. It is safe to assume that a great number of these people will take skills back to Africa and create growth there but for now the transits are one way. If we use the UAE with Pakistani and Indian labor as a reasonable template to follow then we can assume that these Africans will begin to travel by air on a regular basis by the turn of this decade. It will be very good business.

Victoria
By Victoria January 24, 2012 15:29
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