Airbus in Africa and the Middle East

For more than four decades, Airbus commercial airlines, helicopters, military aircraft and satellites have dominated the skies of Africa and Middle East, from Dubai to Cape Town, Cairo and beyond.

Airbus Africa and Middle East is responsible for all activities in the region, covering more than 3,100 people across sites in Morocco, Tunisia, South Africa and Nigeria, as well as Airbus’ presence in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Doha, Qatar and Oman. The headquarters are in Dubai, home to the Airbus A380’s largest customer, Emirates.

As an integral partner in the communities we serve across Africa and Middle East, Airbus sees a region united in its quest to embrace innovation and build prosperity for generations ahead.

Growing footprint in the region

Airbus’ products and services are widely recognised as well-adapted to Africa and the Middle East. Yet the company’s commitment goes beyond selling: it also provides training and support by building local entities, creating jobs and ultimately contributes to the economic development of the region.

Airbus Africa and Middle East is responsible for all activities in the region and has a significant industrial presence in the Middle East and Africa through agreements and partnerships for production capabilities across several countries.

In pursuing industrial opportunities, Airbus takes an inclusive approach focused upon collaboration and the development of mutually beneficial, long-term public and private sector partnerships. In doing so, Airbus identifies knowledge, skills, talent and capacities that can be tapped and harnessed to solve challenges and meet the requirements and objectives of our customers and partners.

In the UAE, Strata produces composite components for the A330, A330neo, A350 XWB and A380 aircraft, while TPI produces metallic parts for the A320, A320neo and A330 programmes. In both Morocco and Tunisia, Airbus suppliers and Airbus subsidiary STELIA Aerospace utilise a highly skilled workforce and take advantage of the close proximity to Europe to source a mix of machined composite, electrical and assembled components across all Airbus programmes.

Emirates A380 being loaded prior to a relief flight

South Africa’s aerospace industry is a major supplier of parts, components and sub-assemblies which are incorporated across the Airbus product range. In this region, the Airbus Foundation has established a powerful partnership with Emirates Airlines and Action Contre la Faim to regularly utilise A380 Emirates deliveries to transport food and aid to the United Nations Humanitarian Response Depot located in the International Humanitarian City of Dubai.

In partnership with South African Airways, this has involved the distribution of educational material and sports equipment to children in some of South Africa’s disadvantaged communities.

Eleven tonnes of humanitarian goods were transported with Ethiopian Airlines’ A350 XWB to provide relief to drought-prone areas in the East African region. The goods were handed over to the Ethiopian Airlines Foundation, the Ethiopian Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs and the National Disaster Risk Management Commission for further distribution to refugee camps as well as health stations.

Rwandair utilised the delivery flight of its second A330 to transport 1.2 tonnes of humanitarian goods. This included children’s and women’s clothes, toys and medical supplies, as well as support equipment such as wheelchairs and canes.

Driving a global aviation hub

Africa and Middle East’s air traffic is expected to see the biggest growth worldwide in the next 20 years (6.2% for the Middle East and 5.4% for Africa respectively).

Middle East

Etihad Airways has been one of the A380 operators in the Middle East region since December 2014

Middle East air traffic is forecast to double in the next 10 years, according to the Airbus Global Market Forecast (GMF). Airbus research reveals that by the end of 2034 the total passenger fleet of airlines domiciled in the Middle East will grow by 2,365 new passenger aircraft.

Airbus sold its first aircraft in the Middle East in 1970. Currently, 667 of the company’s aircraft are operating there and, to date, Airbus has signed orders for 1,323 aircraft bound for Middle Eastern carriers over the next decade.

These orders span the entire Airbus product range, which are set to dominate air travel in, to and from the region. Emirates, Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways all operate the A380 and Qatar Airways was the launch customer for the A350 XWB.


Ethiopian Airlines’ first A350-900 taking off

The Airbus Global Market Forecast predicts that passenger traffic from and to Africa will increase by 5.6% yearly over the next 20 years. To meet this demand, African carriers will need 1,130 new passenger and freighter aircraft.

Africa’s air transport market has significant potential, with governments across the continent increasingly recognising the vital role of air connectivity in opening up markets, driving trade, creating and supporting jobs, stimulating economic growth and creating prosperity.

This, combined with urbanisation, long distances between trading centres and the lack of a sophisticated and reliable surface transport system means that aviation is, and will continue to be, the best way to connect people within Africa and with the rest of the world.

Airbus has been making major inroads into the African aviation market, with 27 new Airbus operators since 2010. Today, around 32 African airlines operate more than 230 Airbus aircraft and in 2016, Airbus achieved an 83% market share in terms of new aircraft sales in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Customers in the region account for more than 250 orders, while several other carriers operate leased or pre-owned Airbus aircraft. The move to modern technology aircraft is being driven by a combination of cost and appeal factors. 

2016 was an exciting year for Airbus in Africa, with Air Cote d’Ivoire’s A320neo order and Ethiopian Airlines taking delivery of its first A350-900 machines. The air transport market in Africa has significant potential, with governments across the continent increasingly recognising the vital role of air connectivity.

Building talent

Airbus Little Engineers workshop

Airbus strongly believes that talent is a key contributor to the future of aerospace and with the right combination of investment, support and cooperation we can build a sustainable stream of talents for the region. Some of the company’s initiatives are entirely home-grown, while others are locally flavoured versions of Airbus global initiatives, reflecting our ‘think global and act local’ credo. We are constantly working within the region to harness future talent at all levels.

Future Scientists Initiative

To know more about the Future Scientists’ objectives, please click on the link below.

Airbus Little Engineer initiative

Since 2012, Airbus Middle East has partnered with The Little Engineer, an organisation dedicated to instilling an appreciation for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) among the grass-roots talent of the region.

Through this partnership, Airbus has developed a series of robotics- and aerospace-focused workshops for 10 to 17 years old and has so far reached over 3,000 students across Africa and the Middle East. Airbus Little Engineer workshops help students practise soft skills including teamwork, communication, critical thinking, public speaking and creativity.

Airbus Little Engineer Space Workshop (15-17-year-olds)

The workshop focuses on introducing students to the world of space exploration and enhancing their understanding of the benefits and applications of space technology. Over the course of four hours, students will assemble and launch a rocket, set up a base, establish communications and explore Mars. Airbus Little Engineer ‘Space’ Workshop was launched in partnership with the UAE Space Agency on 24 May, 2015 during the official inauguration of the UAE Space Agency in Abu Dhabi.

Airbus Little Engineer A380 Assembly Workshop (13-15-year-olds)

The A380 Assembly Workshop is a four-hour module that aims at introducing students to the A380 assembly process and to the aviation industry as a whole. With a strong emphasis on robotics, the workshop explores areas such as identifying aircraft parts and transportation procedures, among others.

Airbus Little Engineer Robotics Workshop (10-12-year-olds)

The workshop aims at introducing students to the world of robotics. Following the-learning-by-doing concept, students build robots as they learn about them. It concentrates on the ‘technical’ side of building and programming robots and introduces children to components such as sensors and manipulators (motors, arms), enabling them to discover how machines operate in the real world and the skills needed.

Entaliq with Airbus

A new initiative in cooperation with TAQNIA Aeronautics, a subsidiary of the Saudi technology development and investment company, aims to challenge the Saudi youth to find the best innovative ideas that can support and advance the national and global aerospace industry. Applicants were given three months to submit their business ideas to have the opportunity to be coached by experts and mentored by aerospace veterans and potentially roll out their projects.

The programme was launched in September 2016 and attracted applications from more than 1,000 Saudi nationals, including Saudi entrepreneurs studying overseas. The three winning teams were selected after being shortlisted from the top 20, who received an extensive mentorship programme with input from our organisation and partners.

Future Scientists

The programme aims to inspire and ignite a passion for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) innovation among young Emiratis. It seeks to build a world-class UAE talent pool that the global aerospace industry can ultimately attract, nurture and retain. Through engaging and hands-on sessions, participants will learn about best industry practices, participate in real-life aerospace challenges and receive mentorship and advice on a career path within the industry.

Defence And Space Division – Supporting Homeland Security

The Royal Saudi Air Force has six A330 MRTTs in service.

Airbus Defence and Space has been a reliable industrial partner to the region since the 1970s. As Europe’s number one defence and space enterprise, the second-largest space business worldwide and among the top ten global defence enterprises, Airbus provides a broad range of products capabilities and systems to the countries in the Middle East region.

On the military aircraft side, the UAE and Royal Saudi air forces operate three and four A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transports (MRTT) respectively. Airbus has won over 70 orders for light and medium transport aircraft in the region.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has ordered 72 Eurofighter aircraft. Deliveries began in June 2009.

Airbusis also part of the Eurofighter consortium, manufacturing the world's most advanced combat aircraft, of which 72 have been ordered by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with delivery beginning in June 2009. The Kingdom of Oman ordered 12 Eurofighter Typhoons in 2012, with delivery starting in 2017.

In Africa, Airbus has won 90 orders for light and medium transport aircraft (C212, CN235 and C295) from 18 customers, of which 86 aircraft have been delivered. In addition, A400M military transporters in service with the French and German air forces are regularly deployed on peace support and related missions in Africa.

Today, Airbu aircraft are in service in 12 African nations. Egypt is the biggest single customer for the C295 worldwide, emphasising the aircraft's suitability for the region thanks to its exceptional reliability in hot and dusty conditions

Satellite image of Dubai taken by Airbus Defence and Space's Pléiades 1A

In space activities, Airbus holds a contract with the armed forces of the United Arab Emirates for the development, manufacturing and launch of Falcon Eye, a high-performance optical Earth-observation satellite system. This contract includes manufacturing of two satellites, offering high-resolution optical capabilities and a ground system for monitoring, receiving and processing images, as well as a training programme for the engineers from the UAE who will control and operate the satellite once in orbit.

Airbus 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, which recently completed its fifth year in orbit. Airbus offers a wide portfolio of Earth observation satellite capabilities and services to governments and institutions across Africa, including the South African National Space Agency.

Airbus Helicopters’ customer-oriented strategy

An Airbus Helicopters H225 for the Nigerian oil and gas industry

Airbus Helicopters has been present in Africa and the Middle East for over 40 years, with more than 650 helicopters flown by civil and military operators. Its modern product range incorporates the latest technology to meet evolving applications that include anti-piracy, counter-insurgency and border patrol missions, emergency medical airlift, search & rescue, as well as the servicing of offshore oil and gas platforms and executive and VIP transport.

Airbus is further increasing its regional footprint with a customer-oriented strategy based on two axes:

  • Team with local partners for helicopter fleet modernisation, overhaul and maintenance, such as a new technical office in Pakistan, the UAE with the Falcon Aviation Services maintenance centre and strong cooperation with AAMROC in  helicopter overhauls.
  • Develop a regional industrial basis relying on Eurocopter Kingdom Saudi Arabia, its largest subsidiary located in Saudi Arabia with more than 120 engineers and technicians dedicated to maintenance, overhaul and modernisation, as well as ensuring the daily efficiency of more than 60 aircraft.

Airbus  is broadening and deepening its African presence through its regional subsidiary, Airbus Helicopters Southern Africa (AHZA), which offers aircraft assembly, completions, maintenance, engineering and training. It supports around 150 turbine-powered helicopters operated in similar roles by customers in 20 countries across the Sub-Saharan/Indian Ocean region. In addition, Airbus  also has civil customers.

Airbus Africa and Middle East

More information of Airbus in the region.