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 latest key aviation and travel news stories from across Africa.

National Air Services CEO sees ‘tremendous’ potential in Africa… but it ‘needs to open its doors’ for private capital investment’
National Air Services CEO Hassan El-Houry stated: “There is a lot more to do in terms of aviation in the emerging markets”. Regarding Africa, he commented: “Africa is fragmented. However, Africa has a very high urbanisation rate. Today Africa has three, or four, or five mega cities. In 10 years that’s going to be about 15 mega cities. The potential for exports from Africa… the potential for tourists from Africa is tremendous”. He added that aviation in Africa has the potential to fuel economic growth, but challenges include weak infrastructure, high ticket prices, poor connectivity and lack of liberalisation. Mr El-Houry stated: “Airport infrastructure in most African countries is outdated and not built to serve the growing volume of passengers or cargo. Airlines and airports are often managed by government entities or regulatory bodies. Foreign investment is discouraged”. He added: “Modernising infrastructure and operations requires both investment and expertise, ideally from public-private partnerships. Africa needs to open its doors for private capital investment”.

Uganda Airlines launch postponed to Jun-2019: report
Uganda Airlines CEO Ephraim Bagenda reportedly said the launch of the airline was postponed from Apr-2019 to Jun-2019, according to the EastAfrican. The airline is expected to receive one Bombardier CRJ900 aircraft on 23-Feb-2019 with additional aircraft to follow in Mar-2019, Jul-2019 and Sep-2019. The carrier is reportedly yet to make key executive appointments or secure an air operator’s certificate.

South African CAA again suspends CemAir’s AOCs
South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) suspended CemAir’s Part 121 and Part 135 air operator certificates (AOC), effective 11-Jan-2019. SACAA said: “The suspension was necessitated by the SACAA’s concerns over the systemic failure of the airline’s maintenance controls”. SACAA added: “The most recent annual renewal audit revealed CemAir’s inability to prove the continued airworthiness of its fleet”. CemAir may appeal the suspension before 11-Feb-2019. As previously reported by CAPA, SACAA suspended CemAir’s AOCs in mid Dec-2018, following which the airline successfully applied to the High Court of South Africa to overturn the suspension.

Air Austral and Air Madagascar merge loyalty programmes
Air Austral and Air Madagascar merged their respective Capricorn and Namako loyalty programmes to form MyCapricorn, effective 09-Jan-2019. The new programme also covers Ewa Air and Tsaradia and features four membership levels and a dedicated website. The programme also covers Air France as an airline partner and various non-airline partners. The airlines said the combined programme offers more destinations, an improved points system and more flexible access to premium status conditions.

News Brief

  • Airports Company South Africa signed an agreement with Airports of Thailand to initiate an exchange of information, cooperative marketing and joint work practices between Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport and Johannesburg Oliver R Tambo International Airport.
  • Côte d’Ivoire’s Council of Ministers reportedly announced a decision to reduce the government’s stake in 82 companies, including Air Côte d’Ivoire.
  • Cape Town International Airport handled 10.8 million passengers in 2018, an increase of 0.8% year-on-year, according to Cape Town mayoral committee member for economic opportunities and asset management James Vos. Domestic passengers declined 1.4% while international passengers increased 9.6% to 2.6 million.
  • Libya’s Presidential Council Chairman and Prime Minister of the Government of National Accord Fayez Mustafa al-Sarraj reportedly reached an agreement with Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat on the resumption of air services between the countries by the end of Mar-2019, more than four years after operations between the countries were suspended.
  • Cape Verde‘s Government reportedly introduced a visa waiver for visits of up to 30 days for travellers from the 28 EU member states, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Cape Verde also plans to extend the visa waiver to visitors from Andorra, Monaco and San Marino.

DATA SNAPSHOT: African weekly international seats (as at 14-Jan-2019)Source: CAPA – Centre for Aviation and OAG

Fleet Development

  • Air Mauritius plans to deploy its new A330-900 on routes linking Mauritius with Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Mumbai, Perth and Reunion in Mar-2019, reports AirlineRoute.
  • Royal Air Maroc plans to operate its twice weekly Vienna-Casablanca service with Boeing 737 equipment instead of Embraer E190 equipment, effective 01-Apr-2019.

CAPACITY SNAPSHOT: African monthly system capacity changesSource: The Blue Swan Daily and OAG

Route Update

  • fastjet Zimbabwe increased Harare-Bulawayo frequency to twice daily, effective 10-Jan-2019, a route it launched on a daily schedule in Jul-2018.
  • Air Tanzania plans to commence three times weekly Dar Es Salaam-Harare-Lusaka-Dar Es Salaam service with A220-300 equipment on 22-Feb-2019
  • SA Express plans to resume daily Cape Town-Walvis Bay service on 12-Jan-2019 and 11 times weekly Cape Town-Bloemfontein service on 14-Jan-2019, according to the CAPA Route Changes Database.
  • Air Algerie plans to launch three times weekly Algiers-Libreville service, effective 03-Mar-2019. The carrier will operate the service with Boeing 737 equipment.
  • Turkish Airlines confirmed plans to launch five times weekly Istanbul-Marrakech service from 27-Mar-2019.

CAPACITY SNAPSHOT: Monthly African system capacity changes by regionSource: The Blue Swan Daily and OAG