The countdown to international travel

World Travel Awards 2020 – Africa’s Leading Airlines

In an exclusive interview with back in July 2020, Professor Dr Wolfgang Thome, the Publisher of ATC News (aviation, tourism and conservation news), accurately predicted that international travel would only resume in the second half of 2021.

We can start getting our vaccine passports ready and prepare to hit the skies again. Hallelujah! As part of our ‘Think African campaign’, hopes you consider flying one of the continent’s leading airlines on your next trip.

The World Travel Awards 2020 selected seven finalists in the Africa’s Leading Airline 2020 category: Ethiopian Airlines (winner), EgyptAir, Kenya Airways, Royal Air Maroc, RwandAir, South African Airways and Tunisair.

Ethiopian Airlines

Ethiopian Airlines
Ethiopian Airlines has the largest fleet in Africa with 128 planes including 19 Boeing B787-8 Dreamliners and 16-Airbus A350-900XWB

When did the airline start operations: 8 April 1946

Airline alliance: Star Alliance1

Bole International Airport
Ethiopian Airlines’ hub is Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa. Photo credit:


  • Africa (64): including Abidjan, Accra, Bamako, Cairo, Cape Town, Dakar, Gaborone, Harare, Johannesburg, Juba, Lagos, Luanda, Lusaka, Nairobi, Nosy Be, Ouagadougou, Seychelles, Windhoek and Zanzibar
  • Americas (7): including Buenos Aires, Chicago, New York and Toronto
  • Europe (17): including Athens, Brussels, Geneva, London, Paris and Rome
  • Asia-Pacific (18): including Beijing, Delhi, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Seoul and Singapore
  • Middle East (13): including Beirut, Dubai, Riyadh and Tel Aviv
Ethiopian Airlines business class
Ethiopian Airlines business class. Photo credit:

Website link


EgyptAir has a fleet of 70 including modern A330-300 and B787-9 Dreamliners. Photo credit:

When did the airline start operations: 7 June 1932

Airline alliance: Star Alliance1

Cairo International Airport
Cairo International Airport is EgyptAir’s hub


  • Africa (18): including Accra, Casablanca, Dar es Salaam, Johannesburg, Kigali, Khartoum, Lagos, Nairobi and Tunis
  • Americas (3): Toronto, New York & Washington
  • Europe (19): including Berlin, Geneva, Istanbul, London, Moscow and Paris
  • Asia-Pacific (7): including Beijing, Bombay, Tokyo, Hong Kong
  • Middle East (16): including Abu Dhabi, Baghdad, Muscat, Riyadh and Tel Aviv
EgyptAir's B787-9 business class
EgyptAir’s B787-9 business class. Photo credit:

Website link

Kenya Airways

Also won World Travel Awards for the best business and economy class in Africa

Kenya Airways
Kenya Airways has a fleet of 37 including 8 B787-8 Dreamliners. Photo credit: East Africa Business Week

When did the airline start operations: 22 January 1977

Airline alliance: SkyTeam Alliance2

Jomo Kenyatta International Airport
Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is Kenya Airways’ hub. Photo credit: Louis Berger


  • Africa (33): including Accra, Antananarivo, Dakar, Dar es salaam, Harare, Johannesburg, Kinshasa, Mahe Island, Mauritius and Zanzibar
  • Americas (1): New York
  • Europe (3): Amsterdam, London and Paris
  • Asia-Pacific (3): Bangkok, Guangzhou and Mumbai
  • Middle East (1): Dubai
Kenya Airways business class
Kenya Airways business class. Photo credit: The Luxury Travel Expert

Website link

Royal Air Maroc

Royal Air Maroc
Royal Air Maroc has a fleet of 58 planes including four B787-9 Dreamliners. Photo credit:

When did the airline start operations: 1957

Airline alliance: Oneworld3

Casablanca Mohammed V Airport
Royal Air Maroc is hubbed out of Casablanca Mohammed V Airport. Photo credit: Skytrax


  • Africa (29): including Abidjan, Bamako, Dakar, Kinshasa, Lagos, Luanda, Monrovia, Point-Noire, Tunis and Yaounde
  • Americas:
  • Europe (41): including Amsterdam, Athens, Berlin, Copenhagen, Geneva, Istanbul, London, Milan, Paris, Stockholm, Venice and Zurich.
  • Asia-Pacific (1): Beijing
  • Middle East (5): including Amman, Doha and Riyadh
Royal Air Maroc business class
Royal Air Maroc business class. Photo credit: Travel Codex

Website link


RwandAir has a fleet of 12 including two Airbus A330 planes. Photo credit: World Airline News

When did the airline start operations: 27 April 2003

Airline alliance: n/a

Kigali International Airport
RwandAir is hubbed at Kigali International Airport. Photo credit: Skytrax


  • Africa (21) including Accra, Addis Ababa, Cape Town, Dakar, Johannesburg, Kinshasa, Lagos, Lusaka and Nairobi
  • Americas (0): RwandAir plans to start flying to New York
  • Europe (2): Brussels and London
  • Asia-Pacific (1): Mumbai. RwandAir plans to start flying to Guangzhou
  • Middle East (1): Dubai. RwandAir plans to start flying to Tel Aviv
RwandAir business class
RwandAir business class. Photo credit:

Website link

South African Airways

South African Airways
South African Airways has drastically reduced its fleet since filing for bankruptcy to just 12. The airline is expected to resume some international operations later in the year. Photo credit:

When did the airline start operations: 1 February 1934

Airline alliance: Star Alliance1

OR Tambo Airport
OR Tambo Airport is SAA’s main hub. Photo credit: aecom

Destinations as at January 2020 and before SAA filed for bankruptcy and terminated most international routes:

  • Africa (28): including Abidjan, Accra, Dar es Salaam, Entebbe, Lagos, Mahe and Nairobi
  • Americas (7): including Buenos Aires, Houston, New York and Rio de Janeiro
  • Europe (13): including Athens, Frankfurt, London, Milan, Paris, Vienna and Zurich
  • Asia-Pacific (10): including Bangkok, Colombo, Hong Kong, Sydney and Taipei
  • Middle East (2): Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv
South African Airways business class
South African Airways business class. Photo credit: Future Travel Experience

Website link


Tunisair has a fleet of 21 planes including two A330s. Photo credit: Skytrax

When did the airline start operations: 1 April 1949

Airline alliance: n/a

Tunis-Carthage Airport
Tunisair is hubbed at Tunis-Carthage Airport. Photo credit: Tunisie Numerique


  • Africa (4): including Abidjan, Algiers, Casablanca and Cairo
  • Americas (1): Montreal
  • Europe (26): including Barcelona, Istanbul, Hamburg, London and Zurich
  • Asia (0):
  • Middle East (1): Jeddah
Tunisair business class
Tunisair business class. Photo credit: One Mile at a Time

Website link


1 Star Alliance members: Aegean, Air Canada, Air China, Air India, Air New Zealand, ANA, Asiana Airlines, Austrian, Avianca, brussels airlines, Copa Airlines, Croatia Airlines, EgyptAir, Ethiopian Airlines, EVA Air, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, SAS, Shenzhen Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, Swiss Air, TP Air Portugal, Thai Airways, Turkish Airlines and United

2 SkyTeam Alliance members: Aeroflot, Aerlineas Argentinas, AeroMexico, Air Europa, Air France, Alitalia, China Airlines, China Eastern, Czech Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Garuda Indonesia, Kenya Airways, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Korean Air, Middle East Airlines, Saudia, TAROM, Vietnam Airlines and Xiamen Airlines.

3 Oneworld members: American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Royal Jordanian, S7 Airlines and SriLankan Airlines.

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