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.

  • IATA VP Africa: Governments should ‘limit the extent of involvement in aviation’
  • fastjet reports improved trading, cash generation and efficiency; continues operating in Nov-2018
  • Ghana government receives ‘various expressions of interest’ in new central western airport
  • Zimbabwe Government working to merge Air Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe Airways: Minister
  • SA Airlink CEO: St Helena service is ‘commercially sustainably viable’
  • Lagos Murtala Muhammed Airport terminal expected to open before Feb-2019
  • ROUTE UPDATE: latest route launches and announcements
  • DATA SNAPSHOT: African weekly capacity by airline alliance (w/c 12-Nov-2018)

IATA VP Africa: Governments should ‘limit the extent of involvement in aviation’
IATA VP for Africa Raphael Kuuchi commented: “It is very difficult and tempting for governments to stay away from interfering in aviation”. He added: “What we want is to see is that governments limit the extent of involvement in aviation… we need government but not for the operations of the airline but policy and regulatory aspects of the industry”. Regarding Ghana’s proposed new national carrier, Mr Kuuchi said: “If the government wants to have a stake in the national carrier, it should be a minimum stake and not a controlling stake and allow the private sector to drive it”.


fastjet reports improved trading, cash generation and efficiency; continues operating in Nov-2018
fastjet continues to review its cash requirements and says it is able to continue operating during Nov-2018 due to improvement in trading, cash generation and internal efficiencies. The company said the headroom available allows it further time to continue discussions with major shareholders and creditors. In conjunction with fundraising discussions, fastjet has been negotiating with key creditors to reduce outstanding balances and reduce the burden of interest and capital repayments. fastjet said the process has been constructive but remains ongoing. As of 07-Nov-2018, the group had cash balances of USD3.9 million, of which USD3 million is restricted cash held in Zimbabwe.


Ghana government receives ‘various expressions of interest’ in new central western airport
Ghana’s Deputy Aviation Minister Joseph Adda advised the government has received “various expressions of interest” from investors interested in constructing a new airport in the central western region under a public private partnership. Mr Adda noted “initial designs of what we want to do” for the airport have also been developed. He added: “We are looking at two or three scenarios [for the project] and will decide which one will be most convenient for us. We may well be able to take all three on-board”.


Zimbabwe Government working to merge Air Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe Airways: Minister
Zimbabwe’s Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development Joel Biggie Matiza confirmed the government is working towards merging Air Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe Airways “by dissolving Zimbabwe Airways and transfer all assets to Air Zimbabwe”. He added: “Efforts are already underway to reconstruct and resuscitate Air Zimbabwe”. Mr Matiza said Air Zimbabwe has debt of USD377 million, of which USD260 million is owed to government enterprises and USD35 million is owed to foreign companies.


SA Airlink CEO: St Helena service is ‘commercially sustainably viable’
SA Airlink CEO Rodger Foster has commented on the performance of Johannesburg-St Helena service, reporting “a clearly defined demand seasonality which will be of assistance when determining additional capacity”. He added: “Demand in the first year of operation exceeded expectations. The St Helena air link is commercially sustainably viable”. The carrier increased St Helena frequency from weekly to twice weekly for the period Nov-2018 to Mar-2019. Mr Foster said: “The take up on some of the extra flights has been superb but we have seen underperformance on others. Naturally, we are tempering the capacity ramp up over time to ensure that the market is not over capacitated”. He reported 75% of travellers to and from St Helena originate or connect at Johannesburg.


Lagos Murtala Muhammed Airport terminal expected to open before Feb-2019
Nigeria’s Minister of State for Aviation Hadi Sirika stated he is hopeful the terminal at Lagos Murtala Muhammed International Airport will be finished before elections are held in Feb-2019. He noted the problem of electricity at the airport will be addressed “very soon”. Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria GM of corporate affairs Henrietta Yakubu added that once the new terminal opens in 2019, one wing of the old terminal will be shut down for repairs.


Route Updates

  • Nigeria’s Air Peace is concluding arrangements to commence Dubai and Sharjah services by the end of 2018. It also plans to begin flights to Guangzhou, Houston, Johannesburg, London and Mumbai.
  • Cabo Verde Airlines plans to commence weekly service between Dakar and Paris CDG via Sal on 12-Dec-2018. The airline will operate the service with Boeing 757 equipment.
  • Kenya Airways subsidiary Jambojet plans to commence daily Nairobi-Mogadishu service with Bombardier Q400 equipment on 15-Nov-2018.
  • Singapore Airlines plans to increase Singapore-Johannesburg frequency from eight to 11 times weekly, effective 25-Mar-2019, according to the CAPA Route Changes Database.
  • Air Namibia has resumed Walvis Bay-Johannesburg service with Embraer ERJ135 equipment and increased Windhoek-Gaborone-Durban-Windhoek frequency to daily
  • Ethiopian Airlines plans to reduce Addis Ababa-Abidjan-New York Newark frequency from three times weekly to twice weekly, effective 20-Jan-2019 to 13-Jun-2019, and reduce Addis Ababa-Lome-New York Newark frequency from four to three times weekly, effective 21-Jan-2019 to 14-Jun-2019.

DATA SNAPSHOT: African weekly capacity by airline alliance (w/c 12-Nov-2018)Source: CAPA – Centre for Aviation and OAG