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.

 IATA: More than 50 new intra-African routes added in past couple of years

IATA director general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac reported that “in the past couple of years”, over 50 new intra-African routes have opened and about 20 countries have committed to the intra-African connectivity process. Mr de Juniac reported that while global airline traffic is forecast to double in size over the next two decades, the market in Africa will triple.

South African Airways to launch nonstop Johannesburg-Guangzhou service

South African Airways (SAA) announced plans to launch three times weekly Johannesburg-Guangzhou service with A340-300 equipment, effective 18-Sep-2019, complementing the carrier’s existing Hong Kong service. Commenting on the route’s cargo potential, SAA CEO Vuyani Jarana said: “Adding a direct service to mainland China, combined with our current popular flights to Hong Kong provides SAA with immense growth opportunities to and from mainland China. It also gives our traders access to the centre of Chinese manufacturing”.

Kenya Airways to continue financial and turnaround initiatives, grow ancillary revenue in 2019

Kenya Airways chairman Michael Joseph reported “an improved performance” in 2018, noting growth in revenue and “better managed expenditure” delivering an “optimistic outlook” for the airline’s turnaround plan. The carrier completed the ‘Project Safari’ capital optimisation programme in 2018 and implemented other actions to “ensure financial and operating efficiency to enhance business sustainability”. Measures included the introduction of new routes, boosting ancillary revenue streams, improving customer experience, senior management changes and focus on cost reduction initiatives. Mr Joseph said the airline will continue to implement financial management and turnaround initiatives and will introduce several measures to grow ancillary revenue.

‘We have to adapt to the reality of our market if we want to have a chance,’ says Air Sénégal’s CEO:

Air Sénégal CEO Philippe Bohn said the airline has a “very pragmatic and realistic” strategy, adding: “We have to adapt to the reality of our market if we want to have a chance.” Mr Bohn commented on other African government owned carriers, stating: “Usually, when a government wants an airline they put in equity, they spend all the cash on the operations, and after a few years the government is fed up with providing cash and the airline collapses”. In the interview with trade publication African Aerospace he further described the Airbus A321LR as “interesting from a conceptual point of view”, while chief strategy and investment officer Jerome Maillet said the aircraft is a “perfect fit” for the carrier. The airline is considering leasing one A321LR, which Mr Maillet said would open “more opportunities to go to North America, South America and to the Middle East with the same cost per seat and half the commercial risk”.

Tunisia’s tourist arrivals up 16.5% in 1Q2019

Tunisia’s Ministry of Tourism stated more than 2.2 million tourists travelled to Tunisia in 1Q2019, up 16.5% year-on-year. European tourist arrivals grew by 22% in 1Q2019, while Maghreb tourists accounted for 44% of the total number of arrivals. Tourism Minister Rene Trabelsi projected nine million tourists will travel to Tunisia in 2019.

Air access important to achieving South Africa’s tourism growth aims

South African Tourism head of global trade and air access Bradley Brouwer said air access is very important in achieving South Africa’s goal of increasing tourist arrivals by five million from 2017 to 2021. Mr Brouwer commented: “It is important to know why airlines decide to fly to South Africa and why some decide to pull out. It is very important to identify markets that are key and strategic and to get them to fly to South Africa”.

News Briefs

  • Dana Air introduced the ‘Cash plus Miles’ scheme to its Dana Miles loyalty programme. Under the new scheme, Dana Miles members who apply an extra top up to their miles balance will receive low airfares for the next 24 hours.
  • Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) expects four new airlines to commence operations in Ghana by the end of 2019. Director general Simon Allotey said the addition of the carriers will result in “a very fierce competitive environment”.
  • Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) reported it aims to fulfil all necessary ICAO requirements for the certification of the Kano Mallam Aminu International Airport and Port Harcourt International Airport over the next few months.
  • ABL Aviation has confirmed the formal opening of its office in Casablanca and the receipt of Casablanca Finance City status. According to the leasing company, it is the first commercial aircraft leasing company with offices in Africa.

CAPACITY SNAPSHOT: African Domestic Seats (as at 06-May-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

  • Embraer has confirmed it signed firm order for 10 E195-E2 jets with Air Peace in 1Q2019. The deal will see Air Peace become the first E-Jets E2 operator in Africa. The contract includes purchase rights for a further 20 E195-E2.
  • Malawian Airlines has received another Q400 turboprop aircraft. The carrier now operates two aircraft of this type.
  • DVB Bank reportedly listed a A319 (MSN 3346) as available for lease from 4Q2019. According to the CAPA Fleet Database, the aircraft is in operation with Air Namibia and is configured with 12 premium economy and 96 economy seats.

CAPACITY SNAPSHOT: African International Seats (as at 06-May-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

  • Uganda Airlines has reportedly secured authorisation to operate international services to Bujumbura, Dar Es Salaam, Juba, Kilimanjaro, Mogadishu, Mombasa and Nairobi.
  • Air Madagascar plans to resume twice weekly Antananarivo-Johannesburg service with Boeing 737-800 aircraft from 17-Jun-2019. According to OAG, South African Airways currently operates this route.
  • Kenya Airways plans to resume four times weekly Nairobi-Malindi service, operated by Jambojet with Bombardier Q400 aircraft, from 10-Jun-2019, reports Routes Online.
  • Air Arabia plans to launch three times weekly Sharjah-Tunis service, effective 04-Jul-2019.
  • Eurowings plans to commence twice weekly Hamburg-Tunis service on 30-May-2019 and weekly Hamburg-Monastir service on 01-Jun-2019. Both services will be operated using Germanwings A319 aircraft.
  • Air Botswana plans to resume twice weekly Gaborone-Harare-Lusaka service operated with Embraer E170 aircraft from 02-Jul-2019, instead of its previously scheduled date of 02-Apr-2019.
  • TUI UK plans to launch weekly Newcastle-Agadir service, effective 07-May-2020.