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.

ACI Africa: Passenger and air cargo traffic growth rates trending upwards

Airports Council International Africa (ACI Africa) Secretary General Ali Tounsi reported Africa’s passenger and air cargo traffic growth rate have been trending upwards, benefiting from a recovery cycle in some of its major economies, as well as the upswing in commodity prices. In 2017, passenger traffic in the region grew 6.3% year-over-year and 10.3% on a year-to-date basis by Nov-2018. Air freight grew 9.2% in 2017 and 11.8% for the year to Nov-2018, the largest percentage gain in overall volume in comparison to the rest of the world.

Tunisia Minister for Transport: Tunisian government has ‘no intention’ to privatise Tunisair

Tunisia’s Minister of Transport Hichem Ben Ahmed stated “the government has no intention” to privatise or sell Tunisair but will work to “find radical solutions that will allow the recovery of the situation”. As previously reported, a new restructuring plan for Tunisair will be submitted to a council of ministers to help it recover from financial difficulties.

Wesgro to advise South African airports on network expansion

South Africa’s Cape Town and Western Cape Tourism, Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (Wesgro) CEO Tim Harris said the agency will advise airports in South Africa, including Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport and Port Elizabeth Airport, on expanding their networks based on the success of the Cape Town Air Access programme. Mr Harris said: “We are one of the few destinations in the world that collaborates between different spheres of government and the private sector to improve connectivity. This idea of collaboration to build aviation hubs is an idea that is taking on around South Africa”.

Ghana amends civil aviation act to ensure ICAO compliance

Ghana’s Minister of Aviation Joseph Kofi Adda said the country’s Parliament passed an amendment to the Ghana Civil Aviation Act to improve safety and security and ensure ICAO compliance. The amendment is expected to enable greater powers for the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), segregation of the GCAA’s regulatory and air navigation services functions, support for the improvement of air navigation systems and services and the establishment of an accident investigation agency.

Angola’s Catumbela Airport may receive international certification in 2019 or 2020

Angola’s Minister of Transport Ricardo de Abreu reportedly said Catumbela Airport will receive international certification in 2019 or early 2020, potentially enabling the launch of service to Lisbon. Mr de Abreu noted: “This direct route from the Portuguese capital to Catumbela will depend on its economic viability”. The airport is currently served by the domestic flights of Sonair and TAAG Angola Airways.

SA Airlink to increase St Helena operations from Dec-2019 to Mar-2020

SA Airlink and St Helena’s Government have announced the airline plans to increase overall St Helena frequency from weekly to twice weekly, effective Dec-2019 to Mar-2020. The airline will operate weekly Cape Town-St Helena service, in addition to existing weekly Johannesburg-St Helena service, from 03-Dec-2019 to 11-Feb-2020. The carrier will then suspend Cape Town-St Helena service and increase Johannesburg-St Helena frequency to twice weekly, effective 18-Feb-2020 to 31-Mar-2020. The airline will also continue to serve Ascension Island on the second weekend of each month, with one additional service in both Dec-2019 and Jan-2020.

News Briefs

  • FlySafair has added WhatsApp to its online check in processes. Passengers can now access boarding passes by printing out, email, direct download or WhatsApp.
  • Nigeria’s Green Africa Airways is at the first of five stages of the application process for an air operator’s certificate (AOC), according to a Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) spokesperson.
  • Nouvelair Tunisie has developed a new partnership with Sabre to utilise its Sabre Red 360 platform to distribute the airline’s selection of branded fares to travel agents.
  • Air Austral CEO Marie-Joseph Malé has highlighted the value of the airline’s partnership with Air Madagascar, stating: “The optimisation of costs through the pooling of purchases – including fuel, premises, catering, MRO, handling and training – is key to our joint success.”
  • Tunisair says it carried 239,187 passengers in Feb-2019, +7.8% year-on-year. Passenger load factor improved to 74.6%, +1.7ppts, but on time performance was poor at 41%, down -13ppts compared with Feb-2018.

CAPACITY SNAPSHOT: African Domestic Seats (as at 11-Mar-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

  • Air Mauritius reportedly intends to place two A319s and two A340-300s on short to medium term leases from Nov-2019. The proposed leases are intended to help generate revenue during periods of low demand.
  • Uganda’s Government submitted a request to Parliament earlier this month for UGX280 billion (USD75.3 million) to finance the acquisition of two Bombardier CRJ900 aircraft for Uganda Airlines.
  • Air Peace confirms its order for 10 Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft is at the design and configuration stage. The order was formally announced in Sep-2018.

CAPACITY SNAPSHOT: African International Seats (as at 11-Mar-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

  • TAAG Angola Airways plans to commence twice weekly Luanda-Sal-Havana service in Apr-2019, marking the resumption of service to Cape Verde. It suspended operations to the country in 2016.
  • Eurowings plans to commence Frankfurt-Windhoek service with A330 equipment from late Oct-2019. The new three times weekly service remains subject to governmental approval.
  • Ethiopian Airlines plans to increase Addis Ababa-Muscat frequency from five to seven times weekly, effective 03-Jun-2019. Oman Air and South African Airways codeshare on the service, according to OAG.
  • AirKenya plans to commence daily Maasai Mara-Kisumu-Entebbe service from 01-Jun-2019. The airline intends to initially operate the service with 11 seat Cessna Grand Caravan equipment before increasing capacity to an 18 or 50 seat aircraft depending on loads.
  • Turkish Airlines plans to launch four times weekly Istanbul-Port Harcourt service from 24-Jun-2019, according to the CAPA Route Changes Database. The carrier will be sole operator on the route and is scheduled to operate the service with Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, according to OAG.