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Avoiding poor user experience during Easter travel across Africa and beyond

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Aviation in Africa is back on the rise, closely following global trends, with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) noting that passenger traffic in Africa at the end of 2023 had reached around 101 percent of 2019 levels. In 2024, it is expected to grow to 105 percent of 2019 levels. Northern and Eastern Africa are expected to lead the continent in traffic recovery this year, according to the IATA, set to reach over 103 and 102 percent of 2019 levels respectively.

For the upcoming Easter holidays, several countries within Africa are high on the priority list as desirable Easter destinations for many European travelers. However, this increase in air travel raises concern over the challenges commonly associated with busy travel periods – particularly as the aviation industry faces pressure to maintain peak performance.

Flight delays now exceed pre-pandemic levels in some countries, with only 64 percent of flights departing or arriving within 15 minutes of their scheduled time in the United Kingdom, for instance. These delays stem from various issues like air traffic control disruptions, system failures, staff shortages and strikes. Easter travel may indeed worsen these issues, causing sudden cancellations and leaving passengers stranded.

The aviation industry depends heavily on digital networks and applications for tasks like providing departure information, issuing updates and inspecting luggage. Unexpected network downtime can significantly impact airlines, resulting in excessive costs ranging from $10 to $150 million depending on the incident and impact.

“The African aviation sector has evolved tremendously over the past decade, harnessing technologies including generative AI to better serve customers,” states Bryan Hamman, regional director for Africa at NETSCOUT. “And because of this increasing digitalization, it makes sense that the local industry must place a strong focus on cybersecurity, protecting itself from an increasing number of cyberattacks on the region that could potentially negatively impact air transport.”

Sanjay Radia, chief solutions architect at NETSCOUT highlights the importance of maintaining aviation systems to mitigate the risk of downtime during peak travel periods:

“When travelling over the holidays, passengers expect punctuality. Airlines can’t afford any interruptions. However, when system failures affect airlines and air traffic control, administrators must implement downtime to resolve the issue – disrupting vital processes and potentially bringing operations to a standstill. The resulting delays can cause confusion and stress for passengers.

“Airlines and airport operators need robust strategies to mitigate this risk. Poor visibility in digital environments can be detrimental, as minor network or application issues can be unintentionally overlooked, turning into bigger issues that wreak havoc at the worst possible times. By deploying intelligent, scalable deep packet inspection tools, airlines can pre-empt and pinpoint the root cause of even the most complex performance issues, accelerate resolution processes and minimize the passenger impact.

“During any travel surge, the aviation sector has a huge opportunity to showcase the strength of its operations, so peak application and network performance are crucial. Proactively monitoring for issues allows organizations to priorities the passenger experience, gain a competitive edge and ensure business continuity.”

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