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.

Ethiopian Airlines will be behind Ghana’s ambitions to resurrect national carrier

The Ghanaian Government has reportedly finalised a strategic partnership agreement with Ethiopian Airlines to form a new national carrier based in Accra. The move follows a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that was signed between the two sides in Dec-2018. The state will own a 51% stake in the new airline initially with Ethiopian owning the remainder, but plans to reduce that shareholding. Ghana Civil Aviation Authority director general Simon Allotey said Ghana’s Government will reduce its stake by selling its shares to Ghanaian investors. Mr Allotey said the government “will hold the shares for the potential Ghanaian investors because we can’t wait for all of them to come on board before the airline starts”. He added: “The decision is to start as early as possible… Initially, government may have to invest in terms of capital and as the investors come on board, government will recoup those investments”. Meanwhile, Africa World Airlines (AWA) COO Sean Mendis has reiterated the airline’s willingness to partner with Ghana’s Ministry of Aviation on the new national carrier project. Mr Mendis commented: “We believe that private sector carriers like AWA have helped drive the growth in Ghanaian aviation over the last decade, and we sincerely hope that a venture to be majority owned by the Government of Ghana will continue to help drive innovation and competition in the marketplace”.

Bombardier: Africa is ‘a very dynamic market’, era of second hand aircraft is ending

Bombardier airline marketing manager Middle East and Africa Arnaud Brun-Khoobeelass described Africa as “a very dynamic market”. He stated: “It’s a market that offers lots of potential for growth, especially for regional aircraft”, but noted: “The continent has lots of connectivity issues, particularly regional connectivity”. Mr Brun-Khoobeelass also commented: “Demand in Africa for new CRJs and Q400s is very promising. The era of African operators acquiring old, second hand aircraft is clearly ending. The market is much more competitive and African travellers are demanding an increased quality of service”.

LAM and NAS enter JV for new lounges in Beira, Maputo, Nampula, Pemba and Tete

LAM – Mozambique Airlines and National Aviation Services (NAS) have agreed a JV to design, rebuild and manage six airport lounges under the Flamingo Lounges brand in Beira, Maputo, Nampula, Pemba and Tete. The first phase of the JV includes the domestic and international lounges at Maputo International airport, which will feature hot and cold food and beverages and WiFi connectivity. The lounges will be available to business class passengers and members of LAM’s Flamingo Club. The parties plan to extend the agreement to other destinations in Mozambique in the near future. NAS will also offer a specialised ground handling and cargo transport service in Mozambique from Jul-2019 as part of plans to invest USD50 million in Africa over three years.

Kenya is a ‘high cost place to operate from,’ says Jambojet CEO

Jambojet, MD and CEO Allan Kilavuka, has outlined the airline’s main costs, which include fuel (30% to 40% of total costs), aircraft maintenance (30%) and taxes. He said the airline has been “fortunate” so far in 2019 because “the price of fuel has been contained”. Regarding fees and taxes, Mr Kilavuka said Kenya is a “high cost place to operate from”, noting that taxes are “a big component of the airfare”. He commented: “Taxes are high compared with other nations so it makes us less competitive”.

Ethiopian Airlines ‘will not be the first’ to return 737 MAX to service

Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Tewolde GebreMariam commented on the potential return to service of the Boeing 737 MAX, stating: “We have not got a time to discuss on the return to service and we have made it very clear on several occasions we would not be the first one to return their airplane back to air”. Mr GebreMariam said Boeing should undertake a more comprehensive review of the aircraft, commenting: “We strongly believe that entire flight control system needs to be reviewed”.

Kenya reinstates Wajir security stop for services from Somalia

Kenya’s Government directed all air services from Somalia to Kenya to stop in Wajir for security checks, according to Kenya Civil Aviation Authority director general Gilbert Kibe. The directive will remain in place until 09-Aug-2019, subject to a review. The directive resulted in the adjustment of nonstop Nairobi-Mogadishu services to operate via Wajir en route to Nairobi. Somalia’s Government stated it is “deeply concerned” by the decision. The requirement for a security stop in Wajir was also in place from 2006 to Mar-2017.

News Briefs

  • BinterCanarias has added business class on its African services to Banjul and Sal operated with Bombardier CRJ1000 aircraft. The service class was already available on services between the Canary Islands and Dakar.
  • African Airlines Association (AFRAA) announced the AFRAA executive committee has approved the membership applications of Air Djibouti and Safarilink. The executive committee also approved the applications of Civic Petroleum and Hitit to join the AFRAA Partnership programme.
  • ASKY Airlines has released a mobile app featuring booking, ticket purchase, flight status information, customer service and loyalty programme status functionality. The app is available for Android and iOS devices.
  • Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) migrated to an online visa on arrival platform, effective 13-May-2019. Travellers may now secure visas through the NIS website. NIS stated the system “will improve migration as well as transparency in the system”.
  • Terra Drone opened a new branch in Angola in response to the company receiving multiple contracts from major oil and gas companies in West Africa. The company  aims to diversify its UAS services beyond the oil and gas sector.
  • Angola and São Tomé and Príncipe plan to draft a new bilateral cooperation strategy, which will include tourism and transport.
  • ExecuJet has launched the ExecuJet Tours & Safaris division to offer tailored safari itineraries with private flights and transfers in partnership with Luxury Short Safari. Locations include African safari destinations and Indian Ocean islands.

CAPACITY SNAPSHOT: African Domestic Seats (as at 13-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

  • EgyptAir plans to operate Boeing 787-9 equipment on three times weekly Cairo-Beijing service, effective 25-Jun-2019, substituting 777-300ER equipment. According to OAG, EgyptAir is the sole carrier on the route.
  • Cabo Verde Airlines announced the arrival of the first aircraft featuring its new livery on 10-May-2019. The Boeing 757-200 is configured with 12 premium and 180 economy class seats. Cabo Verde Airlines now operates three 757-200s and expects to receive another two by the end of 2019.

CAPACITY SNAPSHOT: African International Seats (as at 13-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

  • Kenya’s Jambojet is reportedly evaluating the viability of Nairobi-Lodwar service. The airline is reportedly considering operating the service daily with Bombardier Dash 8-Q400 equipment.
  • Air Tanzania plans to replace Boeing 787-8 with A220-300 equipment on its new Dar Es Salaam-Johannesburg service from 16-Jul-2019. The four times weekly service is due to launch 28-Jun-2019.
  • Air Seychelles (13-May-2019) Seychelles-Mumbai frequency from five to six times weekly, effective 12-May-2019. The airline also revised schedule times to improve connections between Mumbai and Mauritius.