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.

  • Airbus releases White Paper on potential for aerospace technology to support African development
  • British Airways launches London-Durban route, Durban Airport expects more growth
  • Ghana’s Government meets with potential partner airlines on new national carrier project
  • SA Express reports ‘significant progress’ in restoring operations, Cape Town base to reopen in 2019
  • Nigeria’s President: VAT removal on domestic services aimed at making air travel more affordable
  • SA Airlink and FlySafair agree to no longer pursue merger proposal
  • New York service indicates ‘we are no longer in significant trouble,’ says Kenya Airways chairman
  • ROUTE UPDATE: latest route launches and announcements
  • DATA SNAPSHOT: Africa weekly international seat update

Airbus releases White Paper on potential for aerospace technology to support African development
Airbus has released a white paper entitled ‘The Great Enabler: Aerospace in Africa’ focused on the role of aerospace technologies and their impact on socio-economic development in Africa. According to the white paper, aerospace technology offers potential to support Africa’s socio-economic transformation by creating wealth and jobs, building skills and aiding in the delivery of essential services. A key opportunity comes from Africa’s potential demographic dividend, which will be achieved by investing in its youthful and increasingly techno-savvy population. But, in the aviation sector, the key question remains how to connect people to markets and goods in a faster, cheaper and more efficient way in order to maximise the sector’s role as an economic engine and a vehicle for greater integration in Africa. The white paper stresses the need for clear policy by government to harness the power of aerospace technology, while concluding with key recommendations on human capital development, partnerships and financing.


British Airways launches London-Durban route, Durban Airport expects more growth
British Airways commenced a three times weekly London-Durban service with Boeing 787-8 aircraft in late Oct-2018, representing a “notable milestone” in growth at Durban King Shaka International Airport. Durban Airport passenger numbers increased by an average of 8% year-on-year in recent years and the airport handled 5.6 million passengers during FY2017/18. Durban Airport expects to handle 5.9 million passengers by the end of 2018, expressing confidence that it will “see more growth in the coming years”. The airport added: “We believe that this route has the potential to become a daily service and we will continue working with British Airways to provide any support needed to make this a reality”.


Ghana’s Government meets with potential partner airlines on new national carrier project
Ghana’s Ministry of Aviation and other government agencies reportedly met with Air Mauritius, Colt Aviation, Ethiopian Airlines, South African Airways and other airlines interested in partnering on the creation of a new national carrier on 29-Oct-2018. The government intends to select a partner by Dec-2018. Aviation Minister Joseph Kofi Adda said the government will hold a maximum stake of 10% in the proposed airline and appoint only “one or two” members to its board. Mr Adda said the government “will not interfere in the operations of the new company in terms of policy, strategy and operations”. He also commented: “The government will not attempt to be involved in owning and running an airline. This not a government’s business”.


SA Express reports ‘significant progress’ in restoring operations, Cape Town base to reopen in 2019
SA Express has stated it has made “significant progress in the past few months” as it accelerates its phased approach to restoring its network and achieving commercial sustainability. The carrier said: “We have managed to stabilise the business as well as maintaining our solid operational performance in the past two months”. Eight of the airline’s 18 aircraft have been recertified to return to full operation and the carrier is “well ahead of schedule” to have 12 aircraft recertified prior to the relaunch of its Cape Town base in Jan-2019. The carrier has relaunched seven local and regional routes, focused on “destinations with profitability potential”, such as Johannesburg to Lubumbashi, Walvis Bay, Bloemfontein, Kimberley, Richards Bay and Hoedspruit. The airline is focused on reclaiming “key routes”, but will only launch services “that almost guarantee commercial returns”. The airline stated its grounding from May-2018 to Aug-2018 “created a huge market gap in the industry that quickly opened up an opportunity for our competitors to exploit”.


Nigeria’s President: VAT removal on domestic services aimed at making air travel more affordable
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari stated the government’s decision to remove the value added tax (VAT) from domestic air transportation is aimed at making air travel more affordable. Mr Buhari told local media: “This will make air travel more affordable and subsequently lead to the creation of jobs by the air transport service value chain as well as increase revenues for government”.


SA Airlink and FlySafair agree to no longer pursue merger proposal
SA Airlink and FlySafair agreed not to pursue their proposed merger and withdrew their joint application for a Competition Tribunal hearing, which was due to consider the matter in Nov-2018. The airlines stated: “The decision to walk away from the proposed transaction was prompted by the protracted local regulatory processes and commercial considerations”. SA Airlink CEO Rodger Foster said: “The window of opportunity has closed on what promised to be the creation of a robust and profitable South African airline group”.


New York service indicates ‘we are no longer in significant trouble,’ says Kenya Airways chairman
Kenya Airways commenced nonstop Nairobi-New York JFK service with Boeing 787-8 equipment on 28-Oct-2018. The airline said the service “will open up opportunities for investment, tourism and other business opportunities in Kenya and Africa”. The airline’s chairman Michael Joseph described the route as “a big turning point for us and an indication that we are no longer in significant trouble”. Mr Joseph also said the service is important in establishing Nairobi as “a hub for Africa”.


Route Updates

  • Ethiopian Airlines plans to suspend three times weekly Addis Ababa-Dublin-Los Angeles service on 15-Dec-2018 and replace it by a three times weekly Addis Ababa-Lome-Los Angeles service.
  • AirKenya and Safarilink reportedly suspended operations to Mara North Airstrip, effective 30-Oct-2018, due to the condition of the airstrip.
  • Air Seychelles plans to increase Seychelles-Johannesburg frequency to eight times weekly from 22-Mar-2019 to 26-Apr-2019 to meet demand over the Easter period.
  • Kenya Airways commenced five times weekly Nairobi-Yaounde-Libreville service on 29-Oct-2018, as an extension of Nairobi-Yaounde service, using a combination of Embraer E190 and Boeing 737-800 aircraft.
  • Tunisair has advised its operations at Istanbul Ataturk Airport will be transferred to Istanbul New Airport on 31-Dec-2018.
  • Air Arabia Maroc launched services from Dakhla to Casablanca, Marrakech and Tangier on 28-Oct-2018, utilising 174 seat A320 aircraft.

  • DATA SNAPSHOT: Africa weekly international seat updateSource: CAPA – Centre for Aviation and OAG