Airbus in Africa

Africa is a growing market for Airbus products but also an increasingly important source of talent, innovative ideas and industrial capacity.

Airbus: a partner for Africa

Industrious together

Airbus airliners, helicopters, military aircraft and satellites all carry out important roles in this vast, dynamic and diverse continent and the Company's footprint is expanding too. Commercial, industrial and knowledge-based partnerships have been established in South Africa, Tunisia, Morocco and Ethiopia.

These partnerships help Airbus to develop the world’s most advanced and innovative aircraft while boosting local economies through skill development, job creation and new revenue streams.

Letting growth take off


African airlines operate Airbus aircraft while millions of African passengers and thousands of tonnes of African cargo are flown on others operated by global carriers.

Demand for safe, reliable and affordable air transport in Africa has grown unabated since the 1970s. As GDP and urbanisation continue to rise Airbus forecasts a need for over 970 new jetliners in the 120-600 seat market over the next 20 years and is well placed to win a significant portion of this market.

The iconic Airbus A380 has become a regular at Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International Airport with over 2,000 passengers a day.

In June 2016 Ethiopian Airlines became the first African A350 XWB operator, while Singapore Airlines was the first to offer scheduled A350 XWB services between Asia and South Africa.

Another wide-body success is the A330 Family which addresses the 200- to 440-seat, medium-to-long range market. The next generation A330-800neo and A330-900neo variants are designed to extend this popularity into the future.

All current Airbus types operate in Africa and 222 Airbus aircraft are operated by African airlines.

Ethiopian Airlines A350 XWB widebody Airbus
Ethiopian Airlines first A350-900

Rotor revolution

Airbus Helicopters regional subsidiary, Airbus Helicopters Southern Africa (AHZA), offers aircraft assembly, completions, maintenance, engineering, training for technicians and support personnel and flight simulators for pilot training.


Airbus Helicopters aircraft are in active service with civil and military operators in Africa

It is a long-standing supplier of helicopters and support services to governmental and para-public agencies in South Africa. It supports around 150 turbine-powered helicopters operated in similar roles by customers in 20 countries across the sub-Saharan/Indian Ocean region.

In recent years AHZA has successfully introduced its latest products and taken a 60% share of the local market. Para-public customers and operators include the SA Police Service, SANParks and the Red Cross Air Mercy Service. Rotor Revolution AHZA’s customer centre is co-located with its headquarters at Grand Central Airport, between Johannesburg and Pretoria.

Africa SANParks Airbus Group Airbus Helicopters
SANParks H125 flies anti-poaching missions in South Africa's Kruger National Park

Peace and security for Africa


orders of Airbus Defence and Space light and medium transport aircraft from 18 African customers

A400M military transporters in service with the French and German air forces are regularly deployed on peace support and related missions in Africa. Today Airbus Defence and Space aircraft are in-service in 12 African Nations spread throughout the continent. The orders include aircraft such as the C212, CN235 and C295, 86 of which have been delivered so far (as of September 2016).

Africa Airbus Group C295
Airbus Defence and Space C295 flies over Table Bay, Cape Town

Earth observation and intelligence

Airbus Defence and Space also offers a wide portfolio of Earth Observation satellite capabilities and services to governments and institutions across Africa, including the South African National Space Agency (SANSA).

Using a range of optical and radar satellites Airbus Defence and Space provides African decision makers with sustainable solutions to increase security, optimise mission planning and operations, improve management of natural resources and protect the environment.

Airbus Defence and Space has built numerous telecom satellites for customers, providing African coverage and enabling crucial communications services across the region. They include Egypt’s Nilesat and Algeria’s ALSAT 2A - based on the Eurostar E3000 platform, which is recognised as the most reliable in its class.

ALSAT 2A completed in 2016 its fifth year in orbit and is still operating flawlessly even though it is now beyond its original design lifetime. ALSAT 2B is currently being prepared.

Africa Airbus Group Eurostar
Eurostar E3000 provides African coverage and enables communication services

Nurturing innovation

Computational fluid dynamic (CFD) algorithms supports future aircraft design

Innovation improves efficiency and effectiveness. It means making big and small changes to improve results for our customers.

Over the past decade Airbus has established a South African innovation network with key partners including Government, the Council for Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), the National Aerospace Centre and several universities.

Hydrogen fuel cells act as as a substitute for aircraft auxiliary power units

So far this innovation network has yielded:

  • New processes for additive layer manufacturing (3D printing) of large aircraft parts using titanium powder and high-powered lasers.
  • Development of alternatives to current jet fuel.
  • Biomimicry studies into the efficiency advantages of flying large jetliners in formation.
  • Computational fluid dynamic (CFD) algorithms to aid future aircraft design.
  • Research into future-generation aircraft flight control systems.
  • Studies on the use of indigenous South African plant fibres in aircraft cabin furnishings.
  • The use of hydrogen fuel cells as a substitute for aircraft auxiliary power units.

Managing increasing traffic

NAVBLUE provides services to enhance air traffic management and airline efficiency

NAVBLUE combines the flight operations and air traffic management services previously offered by Navtech, Airbus ProSky, and Airbus’ flight operations services.

Thanks to its heritage, NAVBLUE has been active in the region for the past three years, working with the Air Traffic Navigation Services (ATNS), the South African Civil Aviation Authority and South African Airways (SAA).

The results help the airline reduce fuel burn, save money and minimise its CO2 emissions during high thrust phases of flight.

Rapid response

Delivering emergency, humanitarian, educational equipment and other items
to communities in need

The Airbus Foundation is the company’s vehicle for corporate philanthropy and its worldwide charitable actions. It is partnered with non-governmental bodies including the International Red Cross Federation, to provide quick and effective response in emergency situations.

In February 2015, it used an A330 test aircraft to transport 33 tonnes of equipment including kitchen sets, mosquito nets and tarpaulins from Spain to Malawi following Cyclone Bansi.

The Airbus Foundation also works with children. It partnered with South African Airways to distribute educational material and sports equipment to children in some of South Africa’s disadvantaged rural communities. Furthermore, ‘The Little Engineer’ programme inspires an affinity for mathematics and physical sciences.

Airbus Africa and Middle East

More information of Airbus in the region.