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.

Air Mauritius expects ‘fierce’ competition, volatile fuel prices and exchange rates in Q4FY2019

Air Mauritius expects “fierce competition” to continue in Q4FY2019, with pressure on yield and revenue. The airline noted the fourth quarter “is usually a most challenging one”. The carrier said fuel prices and exchange rates remain volatile and are expected to impact full year results.

In response, Air Mauritius is adopting a “judicious capacity deployment strategy”, reviewing all controllable costs and strengthening revenue management. The airline said: “In the light of the significant changes to the operating environment, several initiatives are underway to support the review of the business model”. The company is focusing on the short term, including the introduction of two A330neo and two A350-900 aircraft in 2019, while managing the transition to a new business model.

it will phase in two A330-900 aircraft on operating lease in Mar/Apr-2019, as part of its fleet modernisation programme. The aircraft will enable the carrier to develop its medium and long haul network, including the Africa and Asia markets. The aircraft will be deployed to Geneva and London, enabling Air Mauritius to “significantly improve” the product offered in the markets.

Other fleet plans include retrofitting two A330 and two A340 aircraft to offer similar cabin products to the A330neos, with retrofits complete on two A330-200s; phasing out a third A340-300 in Feb-2019 and a fourth in late Oct-2019. Another two A340-300s will be phased out in 2023; while the airline will phase in two A350-900 aircraft on direct order in Oct/Nov-2019.

‘Financial situation at Air Namibia is beyond recovery’: Minister

Namibia’s Minister of Finance Carl-Hermann Gustav Schlettwein reportedly said Air Namibia debts total approximately NAD3 billion (USD212 million). He reportedly stated: “The current financial situation at Air Namibia is beyond recovery. It is dire if the government or the tax payer don’t put a very significant amount”.

Some African states ‘fear’ consequences of implementing SAATM: AFCAC secretary general

African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC) secretary general Tefera Mekonnen commented on the reluctance of some African Union member states to join the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM), stating: “Some states fear that they would lose their national carriers if they liberalise their markets” He added: “A number of African states have already opened their skies to non-African carriers while they are denying traffic rights to African airlines… Some African airlines advise their states not to sign SAATM because they fear that they would lose their market share”.

Kenya’s Ministry for Transport signs BASA with Republic of Niger

Kenya’s Ministry for Transport has confirmed Cabinet Secretary James Macharia has signed a bilateral air services agreement (BASA) with the Republic of Niger. The BASA entails the expansion of Kenya Airways routes to include passenger and cargo transport services to Niamey Airport, enhancing trade between the two nations.

Iberia and Royal Air Maroc sign letter of intent to expand cooperation

Iberia signed an LoI with Royal Air Maroc to expand cooperation, including expansion of their codeshare, which already includes Spain-Morocco services, to include other destinations in Africa. The carriers also “improved” their FFP cooperation agreement. Iberia’s operations at Casablanca Mohammed V Airport will be transferred to terminal 1, the same terminal as Royal Air Maroc.

News Brief

  • South African Airways (SAA) plans to reorganise into three business units as part of a restructuring plan which will see the company will be split into domestic, regional and international business units, with each have its own management.
  • Jambojet has applied for a licence from the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority to launch scheduled services on 16 international routes in Africa. The new routes include Entebbe, Addis Ababa, Rwanda and Hargeisa & Mogadishu. The carrier plans to operate the routes with Bombardier Dash 8 Q400, ATR 72 and Boeing 737 equipment.
  • Comair reported operating costs for H1FY2019 (six months ending 31-Dec-2018) increased by 17% year-on-year, and cash generated by operations declined by ZAR187 million (USD13.3 million) to ZAR436 million (USD31 million). The airline attributed the decline to elevated fuel prices.
  • Brussels Airlines signed an agreement with Agence Sénégalaise de Promotion Touristique to jointly promote tourism in Senegal. The carrier operates seven times weekly between Brussels and Dakar, according to OAG.

CAPACITY SNAPSHOT: African Domestic Seats (as at 18-Feb-2019)Source: CAPA – Centre for Aviation and OAG (NOTE: *These values are at least partly predictive up to 6 months ahead and may be subject to change)

Fleet Development

  • Comair is set to take delivery of two Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft in Feb-2019 and Mar-2019. The airline stated the new aircraft will reduce the airline brands’ exposure to fuel price volatility and enhance potential revenue per service.
  • EgyptAir is set to receive its first Boeing 787 in Mar-2019. Boeing is scheduled to deliver five more 787 aircraft to the airline in 2019 and 2020.

CAPACITY SNAPSHOT: African International Seats (as at 18-Feb-2019)Source: CAPA – Centre for Aviation and OAG (NOTE: *These values are at least partly predictive up to 6 months ahead and may be subject to change)

Route Update

  • China’s Juneyao Air filed an application with CAAC to launch twice weekly Shanghai Pudong-Xian-Cairo and four times weekly Shanghai Pudong-Cairo from Nov-2019.
  • Ethiopian Airlines plans to increase Addis Ababa-Seoul Incheon-Tokyo Narita frequency from four to five times weekly, effective 17-Jun-2019 and operating with Boeing 787 aircraft.
  • China Southern Airlines plans to increase Guangzhou-Nairobi frequency to four times weekly effective 02-Jul-2019 to 24-Sep-2019. The carrier operates twice weekly on the route with A330-200 aircraft.
  • Air Botswana reportedly plans to resume Gaborone-Lusaka service, effective 31-Mar-2019. It suspended operations on the route in Nov-2016.
  • Air Seychelles plans to operate twice weekly Seychelles-Antananarivo service with A320 equipment from 03-Jul-2019 to 26-Oct-2019 to meet increasing demand for travel to and from Madagascar in the summer season.
  • Turkish Airlines plans to launch Port Harcourt and Pointe-Noire services, based on market conditions. It already serves more than 50 African markets – a new five times weekly Istanbul-Marrakech service starting15-Apr-2019 will be its 56th destination in Africa.
  • Vueling plans to launch twice weekly Valencia-Tangier service effective 04-May-2019. The carrier will offer 18,360 seats on the route.