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.

Kenya Airways proposal to take over Nairobi Airport not a merger or acquisition: CEO

Kenya Airways Group MD and CEO Sebastian Mikosz provided clarifications on the airline’s proposal to take over the operation of Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) from the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA), commenting: “Our intention is not to buy or merge JKIA but to have a co-association operator deal, meaning the land and buildings will remain owned by KAA”. He added: “The word merger or acquisition is not applicable in this matter”. KAA MD Jonny Andersen said KAA is yet to accept Kenya Airways’ proposal and commented: “The analysis we have done so far has yielded significant gaps that need to be addressed first”.

SAA and Africa World Airlines expand partnership to include codesharing

South African Airways (SAA) and Africa World Airlines (AWA) signed a MoU to expand their relationship through areas including codesharing, franchising and “other related projects”. Over the coming months, the airlines’ existing interline agreement will evolve into a codeshare agreement. SAA customers will be able to travel on one ticket onward from Accra to destinations including Abuja, Freetown, Kumasi, Lagos, Monrovia, Takoradi and Tamale. AWA customers will be able to connect onto SAA services to Johannesburg and Washington. AWA chairman Togbe Afede XIV said the airline’s partnership with SAA will support the Ghanaian Government’s plans to develop Ghana as an aviation hub and improve commercial activity between African countries.

Air Namibia seeking Windhoek Eros airport runway rehabilitation ‘as a matter of urgency’

Air Namibia corporate communications manager Paul Nakawa said the airline is confident the runway at Windhoek Eros airport “will be rehabilitated soon as a matter of urgency”. Mr Nakawa said if the runway is not rehabilitated, the airline will need to move operations to Windhoek Hosea Kutako International Airport. Namibia’s Ministry of Works and Transport executive director Willem Goeiemann reportedly said the NAD543 million (USD39.2 million) runway upgrade project would not commence until FY2019/20 due to delays in “consultations, technical issues and submissions to the Central Procurement Board”.

Ethiopian Airlines and Paysafe expand partnership to 11 countries in Europe

Ethiopian Airlines has expanded its partnership with payment solutions provider Paysafe to cover Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the UK. Customers in the 11 countries may now use Paysafe’s ‘Skrill’ and ‘NETELLER’ digital wallets to book outbound services on Ethiopian Airlines’ website. Customers in certain countries may also make payments from their bank accounts using the ‘Rapid Transfer’ online bank transfer solution. The companies’ collaboration initially covered just six countries and was launched in Nov-2017.

Kenya Airways cargo GM: ‘regional trade almost impossible’ in Africa

Kenya Airways cargo GM Dick Murianki reportedly said differing regulations between nations in Africa and restrictive air service agreements in some African countries “makes regional trade almost impossible”. Mr Murianki opined: “We still have a situation where we are open to outsiders, but have closed doors to our neighbours. It’s very hard to get access, and concessions”. He added regional trade accounts for approximately 4% of Kenya Airways’ revenue, noting: “We send freighters within Africa, leaving Nairobi full, and they come back empty; we have to fill them with ballast”. Mr Murianki noted “It makes it very expensive to operate when we have to cost-in the return journey”.

Zimbabwe to sign ASAs with Oman and Sri Lanka: Minister

Zimbabwe’s Minister for Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Monica Mutsvangwa reported Zimbabwe soon plans to sign air service agreements (ASA) with Oman and Sri Lanka. “The agreement provides a governing framework for the operation of air transport services, thereby boosting travel and trade between Zimbabwe and the two countries”, Ms Mutsvangwa said.

News Briefs

  • National Aviation Services (NAS) has opened three new ‘Pearl Lounges’ at Casablanca Mohamed V airport, Dakhla airport and Laayoune Hassan I airport. The lounges are part of a 10 year concession awarded to NAS by the Moroccan Airports Authority for the refurbishment and operations of 16 lounges across nine airports in Morocco.
  • Zimbabwe’s Government confirmed it received funding required to commence the second phase of refurbishing Bulawayo Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo airport.
  • Tanzania Tourist Board, Tanzania’s Marine Park and Reserve Unit and other African tourism reportedly plan to develop a marketing campaign centred around promotion of marine attractions to increase the number of international visitors. For the country, the plan calls for increasing international visitors to marine parks from 45,000 to 75,000 p/a.

CAPACITY SNAPSHOT: African Domestic Seats (as at 25-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

  • Turkish Airlines reportedly plans to deploy Boeing 787-9 aircraft on Istanbul-Johannesburg-Durban, Istanbul-Johannesburg-Maputo and Istanbul-New York JFK services from 2020, reports RoutesOnline.
  • Elix Aviation Capital leased one Bombardier Dash 8 Q200 (MSN 506) to Safarilink, marking Elix’s first placement with Safarilink.
  • Akwa Ibom State Government announced it took delivery of two Bombardier CRJ900 aircraft on 20-Feb-2019, to be used to launch Ibom Air. The aircraft, C-FWNL (MSN 15182) and C-FWNK (MSN 15271) will be joined by another unspecified aircraft.

CAPACITY SNAPSHOT: African International Seats (as at 25-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

  • Ethiopian Airlines plans to commence three times weekly Addis Ababa-Gaborone-Livingstone-Addis Ababa service with Boeing 737 MAX 8 equipment from 17-Jun-2019.
  • Air Mauritius plans to operate A350-900 aircraft on one of two weekly Mauritius-Shanghai Pudong services, effective 14-Jan-2020, replacing A340-300 aircraft.
  • EgyptAir plans to launch three times weekly Cairo-Washington Dulles service, effective 03-Jun-2019. The carrier will operate the route with Boeing 787-9 equipment. The service is scheduled to operate until 25-Oct-2019.
  • Air Italy plans to upgauge Milan Malpensa-Dakar service, replacing Boeing 737 MAX 8 with A330-200 equipment four times weekly from 01-Apr-2019, reports RoutesOnline.
  • Air Austral plans to expand weekly Reunion-Rodrigues service to year round from 01-Apr-2019. The carrier is the sole operator on the route, according to OAG.
  • Air Serbia plans to launch twice weekly Belgrade-Cairo service from 04-Jun-2019, according to the CAPA Route Changes Database. The service is scheduled to operate with A318/A319/A320/A321 aircraft until 25-Oct-2019.