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.

oneworld confirms Royal Air Maroc will join alliance in 2020

oneworld has confirmed Royal Air Maroc (RAM) will join as a member in 2020. The carrier is the first to enter under the alliance’s revised process for prospecting potential new members. RAM is oneworld’s first full member recruit for six years and its first from Africa. As the largest unaligned carrier in Africa, Royal Air Maroc (RAM) was always going to be a target for the global alliances, especially as its Mohammed V International Airport base in Casablanca has grown as a key gateway into North Africa and an increasing connection point into other parts of Africa. The value to oneworld is clear when you consider that RAM’s network today will add 34 new destinations and 21 countries to the alliance’s route map, taking the alliance’s network to 1,069 airports in 178 countries and territories.

RwandAir extends partnership with Amadeus

RwandAir and Amadeus have extended their partnership to support the airline’s network and fleet expansion plans. RwandAir uses Amadeus distribution services and the parties will now add solutions for passenger systems, revenue management, loyalty management, payments and data and analytics. The partnership will involve an upgrade of the airline’s reservations, ticketing, departure control, e-commerce, market intelligence and loyalty systems.

Zambia Airways launch delayed until 3Q2019?

Zambia’s Government has reportedly postponed the planned launch of Zambia Airways from Apr-2019 to 3Q2019, according to a report in the Lusaka Times. The airline’s board is yet to hold its inaugural meeting or appoint a CEO and the Zambian Government is reportedly yet to reach an agreement with partner Ethiopian Airlines on the new carrier’s fleet composition. Current plans reportedly call for Zambia Airways to be operating 12 aircraft and handling 1.9 million passengers p/a by 2028. The launch was previously delayed from Oct-2018 to Apr-2019.

SA Airlink to introduce business class on Cape Town-Hoedspruit and Cape Town-Nelspruit services

SA Airlink has announced plans to introduce an “intra-continental (as in intra-Europe) style” business class product on Cape Town-Hoedspruit and Cape Town-Nelspruit services, effective 04-Feb-2019. The airline will operate the services with Embraer E190 aircraft configured with six business class and 92 economy class seats, offering “expansive business class seats” and “enhanced comfort” in economy class

Tribal Tourist launches new website to promote responsible adventure travel in Africa

South Africa-based adventure travel company Tribal Tourist has launched a new website to promote unique tours and activities in Africa. It allows travellers to choose from adventures in several categories including safaris, cultural experiences, social adventures for single travellers, family trips and water-based activities and connects travellers with trusted host operators throughout Africa. Tribal Tourist’s customers are wholly inbound with the majority coming from the USA, Canada and Germany.  Africa remains untapped as an adventure travel destination. Only three African countries – Morocco, Tanzania and South Africa – made the top 20 adventure destinations in Intrepid’s Adventure Travel Index 2018.

Embraer targets African start-ups for aircraft placements

Embraer Commercial Aviation general manager for special projects in the Middle East and Africa Hussein Dabbas has said the aircraft manufacturer is seeking to tap into the growth of start-up airlines in Africa, as carriers are “now are becoming more familiar with the issue of right-sizing”. Mr Dabbas said operating regional jets “is becoming more acceptable”, and there is a strong case in the Middle East and Africa to introduce regional jets to fleets to increase connection frequency and introduce new city pairs.

Republic of Angola signs air transport agreement with Qatar Transport Ministry

As part of the framework of connecting the State of Qatar with more air services agreements, permitting its national carrier to expand its destinations all around the world, a new partnership has been agreed with authorities in the Republic of Angola. The new arrangement will develop bilateral relations between the countries in the fields of transportation and aviation and potential investment cooperation opportunities for the future.

News Brief

  • Air France-KLM has reported strong performance for the Nigeria market. Its local general manager Michel Colleau reported Air France transported more than 322,000 passengers to/from Nigeria in 2018. “Performance in 2018 was very good, mostly good for cargo, but also for passengers”, he said, adding economic conditions of the country also contributed to improved passenger results.
  • Zimbabwe’s Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development Joel Biggie Matiza has said the Cabinet approved the acquisition of five aircraft by Air Zimbabwe at a meeting on 05-Feb-2019. Mr Matiza also reportedly said four Boeing 777 aircraft acquired for Zimbabwe Airways will be transferred to Air Zimbabwe.
  • The Ghana Civil Aviation Authority is reportedly expected to undergo an ICAO audit in Mar-2019 and a US FAA technical assessment later in 2019, reports local media. The audits are expected to enable Ghana to secure FAA International Aviation Safety Assessment Category 1 rating, enabling Ghanaian carriers to operate to the US.

DATA SNAPSHOT: African Fleet (as at 04-Feb-2019)Source: CAPA – Centre for Aviation and OAG

Fleet Development

  • RwandAir plans to take delivery of two A330neo and two leased Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft in 2019. The airline also plans to rationalise its regional fleet by phasing out Bombardier CRJ aircraft and focusing on Q400 turboprops.
  • FlyEgypt has received a Boeing 737-700 (SU-TMM, MSN 36115), as recorded by the CAPA Fleet Database. The aircraft was previously in service with Germania.

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

Route Update

  • Turkish Airlines plans to increase Istanbul-Khartoum frequency from 14 to 16 times weekly on 27-Oct-2019, reports AirlineRoute. The carrier already plans to increase frequency from daily to twice daily from Apr-2019, according to OAG.
  • Nouvelair Tunisie plans to launch four times weekly Tunis-Istanbul service, effective 03-Mar-2019.
  • South African Airways resumed three times weekly Johannesburg-Blantyre service on 02-Feb-2019 following the conclusion of audit and inspection processes at Blantyre Chileka Airport. The airline temporarily suspended the service on 18-Jan-2019.
  • Qatar Airways reduced Doha-Khartoum frequency from seven to five times weekly, effective 04-Feb-2019 and plans to reduce it further to three times weekly, effective 01-Mar-2019. It plans to operate the route with A330-200/A330-300 equipment instead of Boeing 787-8s, effective 31-Mar-2019.

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