Advancing Africa – an update on latest travel developments across the Continent

Is the African market finally ready to fulfil its full potential? Will a new more open approach to air connectivity finally open the door to better intra-African connectivity? These are massive questions for a market that the International Air Transport Association (IATA) predicts will see the strongest growth over the next 20 years and will be home to some of the fastest growing individual country markets in terms of passenger demand.

Our regular round-up delivers some of the latest key aviation and travel news stories from across the Continent.

South African Airways secures additional USD240m in business rescue funding for short term needs

South African Airways (SAA) announced its business rescue practitioners, supported by the Department of Public Enterprises and the National Treasury, obtained the balance of the business rescue post commencement funding (PCF) required to meet the airline’s short term liquidity requirements. The Development Bank of South Africa offered to provide the next PCF tranche totalling ZAR3.5 billion (USD240.6 million), with an immediate draw down of ZAR2 billion (USD137.5 million). The funding will support SAA until its business rescue plan is published and adopted. Potential financiers are considering providing funding for the subsequent restructuring phase. Local commercial banks provided the initial PCF of ZAR2 billion after the business rescue process commenced on 05-Dec-2019. SAA stated the business rescue process is now “on a significantly sounder footing”.

fastjet works to conclude fastjet Zimbabwe sale to remain a going concern

fastjet officials have confirmed additional funding will be required to enable the company to continue operating in its current form. The board believes the company will have sufficient resources to meet its operational needs until the end of Mar-2020, based on current financial projections and available funds and subject to forecast revenue not being impacted by unforeseen circumstances. The company remains in active discussions with an investor consortium led and underwritten by Solenta Aviation Holdings and other local investors in Zimbabwe regarding the disposal of the company’s holding in fastjet Zimbabwe. The consortium is finalising due diligence on fastjet Zimbabwe and securing the required regulatory approvals. If fastjet is unable to carry out the restructuring proposal by the end of Mar-2020, it warns that it would be unable to continue trading as a going concern.

Johannesburg’s Lanseria airport commences five year USD137.5m upgrade project

Johannesburg Lanseria Airport has commenced its five year ZAR2 billion (USD137.5 million) upgrade project. The upgrades include an expansion of its main terminal building, a new fuel depot, a boutique hotel, a dedicated cargo facility, a boutique hotel and upgrades to the existing taxiway. Airport CEO Rampa Rammopo said: “We have experienced a double digit growth in passenger numbers over the past five years, and the main terminal will be upgraded to cater for this growth”. The airport hopes to significantly grow its traffic. Mr Rammopo reported aims to “increase the airport’s traffic to 4.5 million passengers a year by YE2022” and an “ultimate target of six million yearly passengers by YE2028”.

SA Airlink and FlySafair interested in potential sale of SAA assets, including Mango

SA Airlink CEO and MD Rodger Foster stated the airline is in discussions with South African Airways’ (SAA) business rescue practitioners “about the sale of certain SAA assets, which include Mango or a stake in it”. FlySafair head of sales and distribution Kirby Gordon stated FlySafair also contacted the business rescue practitioners “to convey our interest should any of SAA’s assets be put up for sale”.

CAPACITY SNAPSHOT: African Domestic Seats (as at 27-Jan-2020)Source: CAPA – Centre for Aviation and OAG (NOTE: *These values are at least partly predictive up to 6 months ahead and may be subject to change)

News Briefs

  • Kenya Airways acting CEO Allan Kilavuka has confirmed its restructuring programme will result in redundancies. In a letter to employees, he reportedly commented: “Roles will change; some maybe enriched while others are merged… I also want to be clear that as difficult as it is, some roles will disappear altogether, resulting in redundancies”.
  • Mali’s National Civil Aviation Agency (ANAC) has confirmed the nation will launch an airline before the end of Mar-2020.
  • RwandAir has implemented Lufthansa Systems’ NetLine/Sched schedule management solution and ProfitLine/Price pricing system to optimise flight scheduling and determine ticket prices based on the market situation.

CAPACITY SNAPSHOT: African International Seats (as at 27-Jan-2020)Source: CAPA – Centre for Aviation and OAG (NOTE: *These values are at least partly predictive up to 6 months ahead and may be subject to change)

Aircraft News

  • Congo Airways has outlined its fleet plans for the coming years. It will initially wet lease two aircraft to cover the removal of two A320s to undergo C checks; wet lease one A320 or Embraer E190 in 3Q2020 to support operations; acquire two E175s for delivery in Dec-2020; add two turboprop aircraft in 2021; and four A220-300 aircraft for delivery in 3Q2021, 4Q2021, 3Q2022 and 4Q2022.
  • Air Austral announced plans to remove one of its two Boeing 787-8s (F-OLRB) from service for four months for engine maintenance from 10-Feb-2020.
  • Sudan’s Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning approved Airbus’ proposal to supply Sudan Airways with eight new aircraft, according to local reports. The Airbus proposal also includes the provision of aircraft technical support.

MARKET SNAPSHOT: African capacity by departure seat class (as at 27-Jan-2020)Source: CAPA – Centre for Aviation and OAG

Route Update

  • fastjet Zimbabwe will from Jul-2020 launch two new routes: Victoria Falls to Kruger Mpumalanga International airport in Nelspruit, South Africa and a return direct domestic flight between Bulawayo and Victoria Falls.
  • Ewa Air suspended Mayotte-Anjouan service until further notice, effective 27-Jan-2020, according to Air Austral. The suspension is due to communication issues with the air traffic control tower at Anjouan Ouani Airport, which requires repairs, and insufficient ground services.
  • Air Senegal has commenced twice weekly service between Dakar and Cap Skiring. The airline operates the route, which also incorporates Ziguinchor, with ATR 72-600 equipment.
  • Air Cairo plans to launch seasonal twice weekly Sharm el Sheikh-Kuwait service, effective 17-Jun-2020, as recorded by the CAPA Route Changes Database. The carrier plans to operate the route with A320 equipment.
  • Qatar Airways plans to adjust its daily Doha-Lagos service adding on onwards sector to Accra effective 15-Apr-2020. The carrier will continue to operate Boeing 787-8 equipment on the route.
  • FlyWestair plans to increase overall frequency on Windhoek Eros-Ondangwa and Windhoek Eros-Oranjemund-Cape Town services from 30 to 46 times weekly, in response to demand, effective 17-Feb-2020.
  • Nouvelair Tunisie plans to launch weekly Djerba-Rome charter service, commencing 08-Jun-2020, flown with A320 equipment.
  • Vueling plans to launch twice weekly Gran Canaria-Marrakesh service with A321 equipment, effective 02-Jul-2020. BinterCanarias also operates on the route, according to OAG.
  • Laudamotion has closed reservations for its twice weekly Vienna-Agadir service after 28-Mar-2020.
  • LATAM Airlines Brazil is considering increasing Sao Paulo Guarulhos-Johannesburg frequency from five to seven times weekly effective later in 2020. The new frequencies will be operated with two class 339 seat A350.