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.

British Airways upgauges London Heathrow-Durban service, but first class on its 787-9 will not be sold

British Airways plans to operate Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft on its three times weekly London Heathrow-Durban service, effective late Apr-2019, replacing smaller 787-8 equipment. However, Routes Online reports that the first class cabin on the aircraft of eight suites will not be offered for sale on the route. The switch will actually see a small decrease in economy capacity, but rises in both premium economy and business class seating.

Djibouti in talks with European banks to finance new airport

Djibouti’s Government entered the early stages of discussions with a syndicate of European banks to finance construction of a new airport near Ali Sabieh, according to Djibouti Ports and Free Zones Authority chairman Aboubaker Omar Hadi. The syndicate, led by KfW, may provide a USD420 million commercial loan for the project, after Djibouti’s Government cancelled a contract for the airport with China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation in 2017. The proposed new airport is expected to feature two 4200m runways with passenger and cargo terminal facilities. The government also plans to develop a new airport on the Seven Brothers Islands.

Malawian Airlines to maintain Blantyre operations during runway renovations

Malawian Airlines plans to maintain Blantyre operations during the closure of Blantyre Chileka Airport’s main runway for renovations from 24-Apr-2019 to 23-Jul-2019, according to commercial manager Charles Ng’ambi. The airline has leased one Bombardier Dash 8-Q400 turboprop from Ethiopian Airlines to enable it to continue operations from the airport’s secondary runway.

FAAN directs Nigeria’s airports to settle debts or face sanctions

Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) directed airports in Nigeria to settle all debts owed to FAAN by 30-Apr-2019 or face sanctions. FAAN stated it will withdraw “the services of our aviation security and aerodrome rescue and fire fighting personnel” from airports that fail to meet the deadline. Airports in debt to FAAN reportedly include Bebi Airport, Gombe Airport, Birnin Kebbi International Airport and the privately operated terminal 2 at Lagos Murtala Muhammed International Airport.

News Briefs

  • fastjet Mozambique and LAM – Mozambique Airlines signed a codeshare agreement covering Maputo-Beira and Maputo-Quelimane services operated by both airlines. The agreement will be expanded to include the airlines’ Maputo-Tete services in the near future.
  • Morocco‘s Office National Des Aeroports reported a double-digit rise in traffic at the country’s airports for Mar-2019. Passenger levels were up +10.5% year-on-year to 2.1million, driven mainly by a +19.9% rise in traffic at Marrakech airport. The North African nation’s main gateway, Casablanca Mohammed V saw a more modest +0.5% rise to 796,405 passengers.

CAPACITY SNAPSHOT: African Domestic Seats (as at 22-Apr-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 received its first A330-900 aircraft (3B-NBU, MSN 1884, according to the CAPA Fleet Database) on long term lease from Air Lease Corporation (ALC) in Toulouse on 17-Apr-2019. The aircraft is configured with 28 business class and 260 economy class seats. The airline will take delivery of a second A330-900, also from ALC’s order book with Airbus, in Apr-2019.
  • Egyptair received one Boeing 787-9 (SU-GES, MSN 38799) as recorded by the CAPA Fleet Database. The aircraft is leased from Aercap.
  • Air Sénégal has received one A319 aircraft (6V-AMB, MSN 3078), previously operated by Iberia. The airline is reportedly expected to receive a fourth A319, also previously operated by Iberia, in the coming weeks.
  • Nouvelair received one A320 aircraft (TS-INT). This is the ninth aircraft in carrier’s fleet.
  • Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Tewolde GebreMariam said the carrier is working with COMAC “to evaluate the suitability of C919 passenger planes”. He explained the carrier “is currently considering adding the C919 planes to its aircraft fleet when the airplanes are ready for sales”, adding that the airline is also “planning to have a joint venture with AVIC to operate small Chinese built airplanes that are expected soon to operate in Ethiopian domestic flights”.

CAPACITY SNAPSHOT: African International Seats (as at 22-Apr-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 commenced Kinshasa service with Boeing 737 equipment on 17-Apr-2019. The airline operates three times weekly Kigali-Kinshasa-Libreville service, according to OAG.
  • Air France plans to deploy its new Airbus A350-900 on the Paris CDG-Bamako-Abidjan route, effective 23-Sep-2019.
  • EgyptAir confirmed services to Rome, Milan, Budapest and Vienna at Cairo International Airport will depart from terminal 2 instead of terminal 3, effective 15-May-2019.
  • Corendon Airlines Europe will offer weekly services to Banjul, Gambia during summer 2019 from Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Leipzig and Munich with Boeing 737-800 equipment.
  • Tassili Airlines plans to resume weekly Oran-Strasbourg service, effective 04-Jul-2019. The carrier will operate the route with Boeing 737-800 equipment.
  • Pegasus Airlines plans to launch four times weekly Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen-Casablanca service from 08-Jul-2019.
  • Cathay Pacific has confirmed it will resume seasonal Hong Kong-Cape Town service from Nov-2019 to Feb-2020, operating on a three times weekly schedule with A350-900 aircraft. The carrier introduced the service in Nov-2018.