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.

  • Ethiopian Airlines to contribute multiple aircraft to Ghana start-up
  • fastjet able to operate until 14-Dec-2018, seeking solution to GECAS condition
  • Royal Air Maroc takes delivery of first 787-9
  • RwandAir confirms plans to commence Kigali-Accra-New York service in mid-2019
  • Kenya Airways CEO advocates cautious approach to Single African Air Transport Market
  • Egypt and Ireland discuss strengthening bilateral relations
  • ROUTE UPDATE: latest route launches and announcements
  • DATA SNAPSHOT: African  international seats by week (as at 10-Dec-2018)

Ethiopian Airlines to contribute multiple aircraft to Ghana start-up
Ethiopian Airlines reportedly plans to contribute four aircraft towards the establishment of Ghana’s new national carrier, reports local media in West Africa. Ghana’s Minister of Aviation Joseph Kofi Adda reportedly said Ethiopian Airlines would support management of the new carrier until Ghana can “build capacity and takeover subsequently”. Ethiopian is expected to hold a maximum 49% stake in the airline, with the Government of Ghana holding 10% and the remaining 41% share made public for Ghanaian investors, Mr Adda reported.


fastjet able to operate until 14-Dec-2018, seeking solution to GECAS condition
fastjet issued an update on its equity refinancing and open offer, advising completion of the Solenta Aviation subscription letter remains conditional on satisfaction of the GECAS condition, in which the existing leases of two Embraer E190s will be amended. The condition has not yet been satisfied “despite considerable efforts”, fastjet said. fastjet has deferred application for the admission of the new ordinary shares and continues to review its current cash requirements. The airline is able to continue operating until 14-Dec-2018, with the headroom available allowing further time to find a solution to the GECAS condition. As of 06-Dec-2018, fastjet held cash balances of USD6.8 million, of which USD6.4 million is restricted cash held inside Zimbabwe. The airline said ongoing discussions with shareholders have been positive, however “there can be no guarantee of a successful outcome”.


Royal Air Maroc takes delivery of first 787-9
Royal Air Maroc received its first of four Boeing 787-9 aircraft on 11-Dec-2018. The airline plans to deploy the 787-9 on routes such as Casablanca-Paris Orly, as well as New York and Sao Paulo, as it seeks to expand service. Royal Air Maroc plans to begin modernising its narrowbody fleet when it takes delivery of its first 737 MAX later in Dec-2018.


RwandAir confirms plans to commence Kigali-Accra-New York service in mid-2019
RwandAir CEO Yvonne Manzi Makolo confirmed the airline intends to commence Kigali-Accra-New York service, subject to approval by the US FAA. Ms Makolo said the proposed service would enable the carrier to serve both the East Africa and West Africa markets. She told local media: “We are still working around the June 2019 timeline, but it might be pushed back. It’s going to be to New York, depending on which airport we get suitable slots”. Ms Makolo added: “We are expecting tourism to be the biggest driver of this route given that it has become our biggest foreign exchange earner. We are also seeing conference tourism becoming an important factor for Rwanda… The leisure and conference tourists and the African diaspora will be the key markets we are looking at”.


Kenya Airways CEO advocates cautious approach to Single African Air Transport Market
Kenya Airways Group MD and CEO Sebastian Mikosz said adoption of the Single African Air Transport Market “should be cautions and implemented in steps”. He said: “There is need for bilateral agreements between countries first that will be regulated, ensuring similar financial structure and passenger rights” and added: “If not well looked at, it can harm the whole traffic in the continent”. Regarding Kenya Airways Mr Mikosz commented: “Our strategy is to compete in a healthy competition and be self-sustainable without government funding and grow our network”.


Egypt and Ireland discuss strengthening bilateral relations
Egypt’s Minister of Civil Aviation Younes Al Masry conducted a meeting with Ireland’s Minister of State for Trade Pat Breen earlier this month to discuss strengthening bilateral relations between the two countries in regards to aviation and airport management, as well as aircraft leasing and maintenance. The two Ministers also discussed the possibility of direct Cairo-Dublin service and charter services to encourage Ireland-Egypt tourism.


Route Updates

  • Ethiopian Airlines commenced four times weekly Manchester service with Boeing 787 equipment on 11-Dec-2018,. Its second destination in the UK after London. The service initially operates between Addis Ababa and Manchester via Brussels.
  • Alitalia plans to increase Rome Fiumicino-Johannesburg frequency from four to five times weekly, effective 01-Apr-2019, according to the CAPA Route Changes Database.
  • Ghana and the Seychelles signed a bilateral air services agreement (BASA) at the ICAO Air Services Negotiation Event in Dec-2018, allowing designated carriers to operate commercial passenger and cargo services between the countries.
  • Air Italy plans to adjust Milan Malpensa-Lagos-Accra-Milan Malpensa service from 19-Jan-2019. It will reduce frequency from four times weekly to twice weekly, while operating two of four weekly frequencies in the opposite direction, all flown with Boeing 737 MAX 8 equipment.
  • Kenya Airways plans to reduce Nairobi-New York JFK frequency from seven to five times weekly, effective 16-Jan-2019 to 19-Jun-2019.
  • Air Europa plans to increase Madrid-Marrakesh frequency from twice to four times weekly effective 01-Apr-2019, followed by daily service effective from 01-Jun-2019. The frequency increase will reflect a 190% year-on-year seat capacity increase, to over 93,500 seats.
  • Transavia plans to launch Nantes-Tunis service from Apr-2019. The service is scheduled to operate twice weekly from 02-Apr-2019. Nouvelair Tunisie and Tunisair also operate the route, according to OAG.

  • DATA SNAPSHOT: African international seats by week (as at 10-Dec-2018)Source: CAPA – Centre for Aviation and OAG