Advantage 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 key aviation and travel news stories from across Africa.

  • South Africa amends its immigration regulations and updates visa and biometric rules
  • Nigerian Government suspends Nigeria Air project
  • Syphax Airlines seeking a partner from the Middle East and Europe as it hopes to obtain AOC and return to the air
  • Zimbabwe’s government intends to link Air Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe Airways operations
  • EgyptAir expects to take delivery of first Dreamliner in Mar-2019
  • ROUTE UPDATE: latest route launches and announcements
  • DATA SNAPSHOT: The largest LCCs in the African market (data: w/c 24-Sep-2018)

South Africa amends its immigration regulations and updates visa and biometric rules
South Africa Ministry of Home Affairs has announced plans to implement a number of changes to make it easier for “tourists, business people and academia” to enter South Africa. The government amended the immigration regulations to include simplified rules for foreign minors travelling to South Africa, minimising disruption to travellers without compromising the safety of minors and the rights of their parents. This means that minors will no longer be required to carry documentation proving parental consent to travel into the country. Additionally, visa waiver change negotiations are being finalised for Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Sao Tome & Principe, Tunisia, Saharawi-Arab Democratic Republic, Ghana, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, State of Palestine, Iran, Lebanon, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, Belarus, Georgia and Cuba, while simplified visa requirements will be introduced for countries such as China and India from Oct-2018, allowing biometrics on arrival, visa applications via courier and five year multiple entry visas. Within Africa, South Africa is considering easing travel restrictions for certain categories of visitors for other countries, including Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda, while long term multiple entry visas will be implemented for frequent travellers to South Africa and a 10 year long term multiple entry visa for business people and academics from Africa. Investments are also being made in technology and infrastructure. The country is finalising the development of a new biometric movement control system, which will be piloted at Cape Town International Airport and Johannesburg’s Lanseria Airport. eGates will also be piloted at Johannesburg Oliver R Tambo International Airport, Cape Town International Airport and Durban King Shaka International Airport by 2019.


Nigerian Government suspends Nigeria Air project
Nigeria’s Minister of State for Aviation Hadi Sirika, confirmed reports last week that the Federal Executive Council decided “to suspend the National Carrier Project in the interim”. He added: “All commitments due will be honoured”. Mr Sirika also commented: “It has nothing to do with pressure from stake holders and it also not for political reasons.” Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) executive chairman Nogie Meggison welcomed the decision, stating: “Nigeria does not need a National Carrier… what Nigeria needs are strong private airlines that are allowed to operate in a friendly operational environment with a level playing field and policies that ensure their survival.”


Syphax Airlines seeking a partner from the Middle East and Europe as it hopes to obtain AOC and return to the air
Syphax Airlines founder Mohamed Frikha stated the Tunisian carrier is seeking partners in Europe and the Middle East as it looks to resume operations by spring 2019, according to media reports. Mr Frikha said the airline will be developed “in partnership with other companies”, highlighting its ability to offer human resources and the “geographical situation of Tunisia”. He noted that Syphax only needs “aircraft” from its partner, such as the Boeing 737-800 or A320 aircraft, pointing out: “Here in Tunisia we have not many aircraft”. Mr Frikha added he expects the airline will obtain its AOC in Oct-2018, after which it will probably wet lease two Bombardier CRJ900 aircraft to an undisclosed African airline while it secures traffic rights. Mr Frikha said: “[First] we need to have our AOC. We need to start our activities to be a serious partner to discuss the future. And we wait also for the Open Skies agreement [between Tunisia and the European Union], which is very important to develop this partnership”.


Zimbabwe’s government intends to link Air Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe Airways operations
Zimbabwe’s Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development Joel Biggie Matiza has reportedly outlined that the government plans to link embattled national carrier Air Zimbabwe with start-up business Zimbabwe Airways to “complement one another” on domestic and international routes, reports the Zimbabwean press. Mr Matiza noted Air Zimbabwe has been forced to operate “at a deficit” due to an unfavourable “aircraft mix”. He added: “There is nothing wrong with having two national airlines; it [Zimbabwe Airways] was set-up for strategic business but our main purpose right now is to have Air Zimbabwe in the sky”.


EgyptAir expects to take delivery of first Dreamliner in Mar-2019
EgyptAir reportedly plans to take delivery of its first Boeing 787 Dreamliner in Mar-2019, followed by another five 787s in 2019 and 2020, according to media reports in the North African country. The airline ordered 54 aircraft at the 2017 Dubai Airshow, including six 787s and 24 Bombardier CS300 (now known as the Airbus A220) aircraft.


Route Updates

  • Air Senegal has confirmed plans to launch a daily Dakar-Paris CDG service on 01-Feb-2019 after uploading schedules for the new service which will be flown using A330-200 equipment.
  • Sichuan Airlines has filed preliminary schedule information for a planned twice weekly Chengdu-Cairo service, scheduled for launch with Airbus A330 equipment from 23-Oct-2018.
  • CemAir plans to increase Richards Bay-Johannesburg service with an additional four weekly frequencies from 01-Oct-2018, a market that is also served by South African Airways.
  • KLM will suspend flights from Amsterdam to Freetown and Monrovia from 29-Mar-2019 as it redeploys slots to grow its network in other markets.
  • TAAG Angola Airways plans to launch a three times weekly Luanda-Lagos service from 11-Nov-2018, utilising Boeing 737-700 equipment. Arik Air also operates the route, according to OAG.
  • Transavia France signed an agreement with Morocco’s National Office of Tourism to relaunch Paris Orly-Dakhla service from 30-Oct-2018 on a year round instead of seasonal basis.
  • Air Italy says its African network, which includes Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal and Egypt, will “benefit from added frequencies” in winter 2018/19. Accra and Lagos services are planned to double from twice to four times weekly, while Cairo and Dakar will both be served five times weekly.
  • Ethiopian Airlines plans to switch its Addis Ababa-Sao Paulo Guarulhos-Buenos Aires Ezeiza service from Boeing 787-8 operation to the Boeing 777-200LR from 28-Oct-2018.
  • AirKenya plans to operate a Mara-Kisumu-Entebbe service from 01-Jun-2019, connecting to AeroLink Uganda’s services to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Murchison Falls and Kidepo Valley National Park.
  • Egyptair Cargo will launch a twice weekly cargo service to Johannesburg from 01-Oct-2018, flown by an Airbus A330F aircraft.

DATA SNAPSHOT: The largest LCCs in the African market (data: w/c 24-Sep-2018)Source: CAPA – Centre for Aviation and OAG