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.

SAA trialling additional premium products on Johannesburg-London service

South African Airways (SAA) introduced additional premium products on Johannesburg-London Heathrow service in order to compete with carriers that offer greater frequency on the route, according to CEO Vuyani Jarana. Premium products include dedicated check in counters, priority boarding, fast track processing at arrivals and departures, personalised inflight service and immigration fast tracking for domestic transfers in South Africa. The airline is trialling the products on London service and may expand the offering to other international routes.

WTTC: South Africa is ‘the largest tourism economy in Africa’

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has reported South Africa had “the largest tourism economy in Africa” in 2018. The travel and tourism sector contributed ZAR425.8 billion (USD29.3 billion) and 1.5 million jobs to the country’s economy in 2018, representing 8.6% of total economic activity and 9.2% of employment. Leisure travellers accounted for 64% of the country’s travel economy and business travellers accounted for 36%. International travellers contributed 44% of tourism spending and domestic travellers contributed 56%.

Greater air connectivity in Africa requires more investment and ICAO compliance

ICAO Council president Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu says improved air connectivity in Africa will only be accomplished through the mobilisation of sufficient and appropriate investments and greater levels of compliance with ICAO Regional and Global Planning. Dr Aliu said: “It is especially urgent for Africa to address its aviation infrastructure gaps, given current and high levels of awareness of how air connectivity has become such a unique and indispensable catalyst for socio-economic growth on this continent”. He added: “Rapidly-expanding air traffic and enhanced air connectivity can only be sustained with continued investment and development for aviation infrastructure, capacity and technology, supported by a regulatory framework which is ICAO compliant and therefore harmonised with other States and Regions”.

To tax, or not to tax, that appears to be the big question

Two African nations this week appear to be taking alternative routes in respect to aviation taxes. In Egypt, the country’s ministry of civil aviation has said the departure fee for both domestic and international passengers will increase by USD5 as of Nov-2020 due to the challenges and demands needed for the development of Egypt’s airports. Meanwhile, a senior government official in Ghana has proposed a reduction in taxes for airlines as a means to reduce domestic airfares. Deputy aviation minister designate Yaw Afful said: “The only way out is to give them [airlines] tax breaks. This will then reflect in ticket prices and trickle down to passengers”.

FAAN notifies airlines to move operations at Abuja Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport

Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has notified British Airways, Turkish Airlines, Lufthansa, Africa World Airlines, EgyptAir, RwandAir, Air France, and Arik Air that they have until 31-Mar-2019 to move their operations into the new international terminal at Abuja Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport. The authority stated it required the airlines to move to allow it to commence renovation work at the old terminal.

Fly-SAX transfers all bookings to new brand EastAfrican

Fly-SAX has announced the suspension of all bookings through its website and the transfer of all bookings to the new brand EastAfrican. EastAfrican will maintain operations to all Fly-SAX destinations, including Diani, Eldoret, Homa Bay, Kitale, Lamu, Lodwar, Lokichogio, Malindi, Nairobi Wilson and Wajir. EastAfrican, via its official Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts, also announced the launch of four times weekly Lodwar-Kitale and twice weekly Lokichogio-Eldoret services.

News Briefs

  • Royal Air Maroc has introduced an ‘RAM Info’ messaging service available on WhatsApp. The new service provides passengers with their booking information, flight status, bag status and Safar Flyer account.
  • Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta has announced that the long discussed proposed rail link between Nairobi’s central station and Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta International Airport will be completed in 2021 in a partnership with a French consortium.
  • Zimbabwe Tourism Authority reported international tourist arrivals to Zimbabwe increased 6% year-on-year to 2.6 million in 2018. The growth was attributable to all regions except the Americas.

CAPACITY SNAPSHOT: African Domestic Seats (as at 18-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

  • Uganda Airlines CEO Ephraim Bagenda says the airline expects to receive its first two Bombardier CRJ900 aircraft in early Apr-2019 with additional aircraft to follow in Jul-2019 and Sep-2019.
  • TAAG plans to acquire six Boeing 737 MAX and eight 787 aircraft. The aircraft will reportedly be a combination of 737 MAX 8, 737 MAX 9, 787-9 and 787-10 aircraft. Deliveries will reportedly commence in 2022.
  • Somali Civil Aviation and Meteorology Authority reportedly banned the operation of Antonov An-12, An-24, An-26 and An-32 aircraft in Somalia’s airspace, effective 15-Mar-2019.

CAPACITY SNAPSHOT: African International Seats (as at 18-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

  • RwandAir plans to increase Kigali-Dubai frequency from four to seven times weekly, effective 31-Mar-2019. The airline will also replace Boeing 737-800 with Airbus A330 aircraft on the service.
  • Ethiopian Airlines plans to commence three times weekly Addis Ababa-Istanbul service on 01-Apr-2019.
  • TAP Air Portugal plans to launch three times weekly Lisbon-Conakry service effective 03-Jul-2019. According to OAG, the carrier will be the sole operator on the route.
  • Air Peace is in the process of securing approval from India’s Government to commence twice weekly Mumbai service, according to India’s High Commissioner to Nigeria.
  • Jasmin Airways will reportedly replace Tunisair on weekly Monastir-Sarajevo service, operating between 10-Jun-2019 and 19-Sep-2019.
  • Austrian Airlines plans to increase Vienna-Cape Town frequency from twice to three times weekly from 25-Dec-2019 to 07-Jan-2020 and from 23-Jan-2020 to 18-Feb-2020, reports Routes Online.
  • Transavia France plans to suspend Paris-Dakhla service from 01-Apr-2019, resuming on 09-May-2019 with weekly service according to the CAPA Route Changes Database. The carrier commenced the route in Mar-2017.