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 African airline group describes visa reforms are inadequate; they need to be ‘decisive’ to help avert recession
  • Air Peace eyes UAE as first step, but Europe will follow as first long-haul aircraft arrives
  • ‘Congo Airways is already starting to conquer the African sky,’ claims its CEO
  • Malawi to cut back fees for tourist visas, expects to offer online applications from Nov-2018
  • IATA warns airlines may consider leaving Zimbabwe if govt doesn’t release funds
  • Egypt and Germany discussing ways to recover lost traffic, boost air freight operations
  • ROUTE UPDATE: latest route launches and announcements
  • DATA SNAPSHOT: International seats from Africa by class (data: w/c 01-Oct-2018)

South African airline group describes visa reforms are inadequate; they need to be ‘decisive’ to help avert recession
Board of Airline Representatives of South Africa (BARSA) commented on the South African government’s amended visa requirements, stating they do not believe the measures are “adequate” to place South Africa on a “decisive path towards achieving its full tourism potential. BARSA raised the example of “key countries” like New Zealand, which are not included in the countries considered for the visa waiver, noting the “fact that e-Visa will be piloted there only in Apr-2019 does not help either”. The board said: “Once again, we have lost the possibility for additional volumes of tourists over the coming holiday season”. CEO June Crawford added: “SA has enormous potential as a tourism and an investment destination. The visa reforms being mooted need to be decisive, if they are to help our economy avert a full-blown recession”.


Air Peace eyes UAE as first step, but Europe will follow as first long-haul aircraft arrives
Air Peace executive chairman Allen Onyema stated the airline plans to offer service to Dubai and Sharjah by Nov-2018, after taking delivery of long haul aircraft. In a report in the Nigerian press, he stated the airline plans to offer service to Paris, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Milan, Jeddah, Dubai and London in the future, and is ready to compete with international airlines. Mr Onyema commented: “We want to fill those gaps being occupied by international carriers coming to Nigeria, we want to represent this country proudly”. He also indicated Air Peace reached an interline agreement with an airline in the UAE to “assist us distribute passengers through the Gulf region and beyond”. Mr Onyema said Air Peace should “cooperate more”, adding: “We are seeking partnership with other foreign airlines. We do not want to do point to point. We want to be a one-stop shop airline for passengers”. Codeshare partnerships would form part of its international model, according to the executive.


‘Congo Airways is already starting to conquer the African sky,’ claims its CEO
Congo Airways CEO Desire Balazire Bantu stated the airline expects to be a “big company” in central Africa over the next five to 10 years, operating to destinations in Europe, Asia and America. In an interview with African Aerospace, Mr Bantu explained the “strategic location” of the Democratic Republic of the Congo represents a “valuable asset” for Congo Airways’ rapid growth, adding: “It is the only African state that has nine neighbours”. He referred to the “potential market” in the DRC, especially as it is one of the “top five populated” in Africa. Congo Airways plans to add Douala, Cotonou and Abidjan to its route network in the coming weeks, with Mr Bantu highlighting that the airline “is already starting to conquer the African sky”.


Malawi to cut back fees for tourist visas, expects to offer online applications from Nov-2018
Malawi’s Department of Tourism director Isaac Kapotola reportedly stated the government plans to reduce the tourist visa fee to align with Zambia, Zimbabwe and Tanzania and encourage tourism growth. Malawi also expects to offer an e-visa service by the end of Nov-2018 to allow tourists to apply and pay for visas online.


IATA warns airlines may consider leaving Zimbabwe if govt doesn’t release funds
IATA head of account management for Southern and Eastern Africa Alexandru Stancu reportedly stated airlines’ attempts to recover trapped funds in Zimbabwe have been so far unsuccessful, and called on the government to release the funds. In a local media report he is quoted as saying: “We have this issue unfortunately in Zimbabwe where we have about USD136 million of airline funds that we are not able to repatriate outside the country due to currency and forex restrictions”. An agreement was previously reached with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to release the funds incrementally, however “no execution has been done and no action has been taken on this particular issue yet the funds keep accumulating”. Mr Stancu said this matter is now forcing some airlines to review their distribution strategies and possibly withdraw from Zimbabwe, which would have a “massive impact on the country’s aviation and tourism sectors”. He cited Kenya Airways as one such airline to consider withdrawing Zimbabwe. Mr Stancu concluded: “Zimbabwe should put more priority when it comes to airline funds and either unlock at once or commit to do so by year end”.


Egypt and Germany discussing ways to recover lost traffic, boost air freight operations
Egypt’s Ministry of Civil Aviation has engaged in discussions with Germany’s Ambassador to Egypt regarding airline bilateral relations. The two countries discussed ways to develop their air transport agreement to help recover lost traffic between Egypt and Germany, as well as other areas of cooperation, particularly air freight.


Route Updates

  • Air Arabia Maroc reportedly plans to launch twice weekly Tangiers-Lyon, Casablanca-Pisa and Casablanca-Prague services in summer 2019.
  • Africa World Airlines launched twice weekly Monrovia-Freetown service with Embraer 145 aircraft on 01-Oct-2018, as part of an overall Accra-Freetown-Monrovia-Accra flight routing, adding to competition into a market currently served by Kenya Airways.
  • Brussels Airlines plans to increase Banjul frequency from four to seven times weekly in Jan-2019.
  • Royal Flight has launched Moscow Sheremetyevo-Banjul service operating three times monthly with Boeing 767-300 aircraft.
  • Emirates Airline plans to decrease Dubai-Cape Town frequency from three times to twice daily from 01-Feb-2019, reports AirlineRoute.

DATA SNAPSHOT: International seats from Africa by class (data: w/c 01-Oct-2018)Source: CAPA – Centre for Aviation and OAG