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.

Egyptian Government calls on UK to lift travel ban to Sharm el-Sheikh

Egypt’s Ambassador to the UK Tarek Adel has called on the UK Government to lift the travel ban to Sharm el-Sheikh following improvements made to the airport’s security since British direct flights to resort destination were suspended in Nov-2015.

Mr Adel said that since that date authorities “have been working very closely with British technical and security teams to upgrade many of the facilities in Egyptian airports in general and Sharm el-Sheikh in particular.”

He added: “We have concluded the work in this regard and that was in close coordination with the British technical teams and we are set to be ready to receive once again direct flights from Britain”.

SAA allows passengers to check baggage through to their final destination on codeshare services

South African Airways (SAA) is now allowing codeshare passengers travelling on multiple sectors, originating in South Africa, to check through their baggage to the final destination when booked on the ‘SA’ code for the whole journey, connecting between SAA, Mango and other services operated by codeshare partners.

The Mango codeshare joins SAA’s other ‘SA’ code partner airlines, SA Airlink and SA Express and will mean passengers will no longer have to collect and re-check baggage when connecting in Johannesburg.

“Our strategic aim is to continuously improve our service offering so that we can provide our customers with a service that is hassle free and more pleasant. This latest improvement takes away the inconvenience of picking up and re-checking one’s baggage when connecting in Johannesburg, and saves time allowing customers more leisure time before departing on the next leg of their journey,” says the airline.

However, all international arriving customers, with their final destination in South Africa, will still be required to collect their baggage at the first port of entry as per customs regulations.

Cape Town International Airport sees international traffic rise almost 10% in 2018 thanks to enhanced out of region connectivity

Latest traffic data from Cape Town International Airport shows a 0.8% year-on-year increase in annual passenger numbers to 10.8 million in 2018, but that doesn’t tell the full story. The big news is that international passenger numbers increased 9.6% to 2.6 million, more than balancing a -1.4% decline in domestic traffic levels.

The growth was attributed to long haul carriers from outside southern Africa and is very encouraging given Cape Town’s tourism industry was hard particularly hit by the drought last year.

“Busy peak season and tourism growth to the region is encouraging in terms of sustainability, especially following what has been a challenging time for the tourism sector,” said the city’s newly appointed mayoral committee member for economic opportunities and asset management, Alderman James Vos.

The Cape Town Air Access initiative, a partnership between the City of Cape Town, the Western Cape Government, Airports Company South Africa, Wesgro, Cape Town Tourism, South African Tourism, and the private sector, has helped land 13 new routes to Cape Town International Airport, adding over 1.5 million two-way seats to our destination. This has resulted in a ZAR6 billion boost to our economy since 2015.

SA Airlink adjusts timing of Nelspruit-Cape Town to better meet corporate demand

SA Airlink adjusted the timing of Nelspruit-Cape Town service, effective 14-Jan-2019, to enable business travellers resident in the Mbombela/Nelspruit area to maximise their working day in Cape Town.

The airline now offers early morning departures from Nelspruit (07:00am) and late afternoon departures from Cape Town (04:30pm) on weekdays for those business travellers.

The carrier also offers and early morning departure (07:40am) from Nelspruit on Saturdays, targeting leisure travellers and those visiting friends and relatives.

News Brief

  • Angola’s President João Lourenço approved a plan for the restructuring and modernisation of TAAG‘s fleet. The plan authorises Minister of Transport Augusto da Silva Tomás to secure financing and enter contracts with Boeing and Bombardier for the acquisition of aircraft for delivery from 2020. The plan also covers the refinancing of two recently acquired 777-300ER aircraft.
  • RwandAir CEO Yvonne Manzi Makolo has confirmed the airline plans to commence Tel Aviv service in 2019, following the signing of an air services agreement between Rwanda and Israel on 07-Jan-2019. Ms Makolo said the airline also plans to acquire additional aircraft and new morning slots at London Gatwick Airport to enhance connectivity options.
  • fastjet set to resume operations in Tanzania, but brand also sees ‘alternative growth markets’ in Africa. After the current temporary suspension fastjet Tanzania plans to relaunch operations with a larger network, having been awarded rights for eight additional routes. Meanwhile, fastjet CEO Nico Bezuidenhout says “there are alternative growth markets available on the continent” which he describes would deliver “a better use of funding”.
  • Tunisia’s Minister of Transport Radhouane Ayara has announced the construction of a new international airport in Tunis. The airport is projected to serve 10 million passengers by 2030 and has an estimated cost of EUR690 million.
  • FlySafair CEO Elmar Conradie has stated that highly competitive pricing has helped the company overcome a lack of growth in the economy, oil prices and the exchange rate, which he said are amongst “the biggest challenges” facing the aviation industry in South Africa.

DATA SNAPSHOT: African weekly seat split (as at 21-Jan-2019)Source: CAPA – Centre for Aviation and OAG

Fleet Development

  • Air Tanzania has taken delivery of its second A220-300 aircraft (5H-TCI).
  • Air Burkina took delivery of its third Embraer aircraft on 17-Jan-2019. The ERJ175 is configured with 12 business class and 60 economy class seats.
  • FlySafair says the addition of three Boeing 737-800s to its fleet will allow the LCC to expand its network regionally and increase frequency on some existing routes.

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

Route Update

  • Air Mauritius will operate Mauritius-Geneva service twice weekly with A330-900 equipment, effective 28-Oct-2019 to 20-Mar-2020.
  • Ryanair plans to launch twice weekly Malaga-Tetouan service in Apr-2019 and will be the sole carrier on the route.
  • Air Tanzania plans to commence service from Dar Es Salaam to Harare and Lusaka from 22-Feb-2019.
  • Kenya Airways plans to increase Nairobi-Seychelles frequency from five to seven times weekly, effective 04-Feb-2019, according to the CAPA Route Changes Database.
  • PassionAir plans to increase Kumasi frequency to four or five times daily and increase Tamale frequency to three times daily by the end of Jan-2019. The airline operates Accra-Kumasi and Accra-Tamale services, according to its official website.

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