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.

ICAO: Africa ‘the world’s fastest improving region’ in terms of ICAO safety SARPs

ICAO secretary general Fang Liu stated ongoing aviation safety, security and capacity improvements across Africa are maximising air transport’s role as a catalyst for socio-economic development in the region. Dr Liu emphasised: “Aviation’s benefits are first and foremost dependent on a state’s effective ICAO compliance” and noted Africa “is the world’s fastest improving region in terms of the effective implementation of ICAO Safety SARPs”.

Nigeria ‘a very promising growth market’ for Airbus: CCO

Airbus CCO Christian Scherer said the company has “several discussions in Nigeria going on for A220 and A320 family prospects”. He commented: “Economic characteristics of Nigeria make it a very promising growth market for us”. Airbus VP sales Africa Hadi Akoum added: “The potential in Africa is huge. We are working with many African airlines”. Mr Akoum also noted: “Financing remains one of the biggest challenges for governments and the private sector, making European Credit Agency support particularly important for aircraft purchases in Africa”.

Kenya Airways CEO resigns

Kenya Airways Group MD and CEO Sebastian Mikosz has resigned for personal reasons, effective 31-Dec-2019. In a message to employees, Mr Mikosz stated: “I believe that this is the ideal timing to begin a transition process to find someone who will continue with the turnaround initiatives that we began three years ago”.

SA Express preparing ‘fraud and corruption’ charges against former executives

SA Express is “preparing to lay fraud and corruption charges against some of its former executives”. The decision to lay charges follows “a thorough forensic investigation”, which found “a number of transactions which may have prejudiced the airline of millions of rands” prior to its temporary grounding in May-2018. The transactions include “multi million rand cases of alleged collusion with service providers, manipulation of procurement processes, as well as the irregular and overpayment of suppliers”.

Air Namibia suspends Windhoek-Lagos-Accra service indefinitely

Air Namibia suspended Windhoek-Lagos-Accra service indefinitely, effective 24-May-2019. The airline commenced the service in late Jun-2018 and stated the service “started off very well in terms of passenger numbers and revenue generation”. The performance of the service was negatively impacted by a ban on issuing visas to Namibian passport holders implemented by the Nigerian High Commissioner to Namibia in Feb-2019. Air Namibia reported the service was also affected by the circulation of messages claiming Namibia was “anti-Nigeria”. Air Namibia stated average load factor on the service decreased from 55% for Jun-2018 to Jan-2019 to between 35% and 38% for Feb-2019 to Apr-2019. Manager corporate communications Paul Nakawa said the service was suspended “to mitigate the related safety, non-compliance and commercial risks”.

Ten parties interested in partnership with Air Zimbabwe, working with government to assume debt

Air Zimbabwe assistant administrator Tonderai Mukubvu said 10 “interested parties” submitted bids to enter a partnership with Air Zimbabwe. Mr Mukubvu said “some key elements… need to be dealt with” ahead of any potential partnership, including the assumption of Air Zimbabwe’s debt by the Zimbabwean Government. Mr Mukubvu said the airline is working with the Ministry of Finance to “provide a workable solution around the assumption of the debt”. He commented: “No investor would come to Air Zimbabwe as long as Air Zimbabwe is saddled with a USD380 million debt”.

News Briefs

  • Nigeria’s Minister of Transportation Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi said the Nigeria Air project “has not been abandoned”, but progress has been delayed by disagreement over government ownership of the proposed airline.
  • Statistics South Africa data shows visitor arrivals to South Africa declined -5.0% year-on-year in Mar-2019. There were significant double-digit declines from Botswana, Germany and Namibia and most countries recorded a decline in visitors with the exception of USA and Zimbabwe with almost +5.0% growth.
  • Ghana’s Aviation Ministry reported Wa Airport is due to commence domestic operations within one month to allow for the airport to carry out necessary security measures.
  • Nigeria’s Minister of State for Aviation Hadi Sirika reported the government plans to award an approximately NGN14 billion (USD38.9 million) construction contract to Julius Berger to repair and rehabilitate the main passenger terminal at Lagos Murtala Muhammed International airport.

CAPACITY SNAPSHOT: African Domestic Seats (as at 27-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

  • Air Peace has ordered seven Embraer ERJ145 aircraft to be operated by its subsidiary Air Peace Hopper. The 50 seat aircraft will add to the six ERJ145s currently operated by Air Peace Hopper.
  • Air Tanzania expects to receive its second Boeing 787 and fourth Bombardier Q400 in Nov-2019, according to CEO Ladislaus Matindi. The carrier may receive another two A220-300s and two Q400s by 2022.

CAPACITY SNAPSHOT: African International Seats (as at 27-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

  • Royal Air Maroc plans to open an air base in Laayoune and operate services to Casablanca, Agadir, Dakhla, Las Palmas and the Canary Islands.
  • AlMasria Universal Airlines plans to launch weekly Sharm el Sheikh-Tashkent service, effective 12-Jun-2019 with A320 equipment.
  • Ibom Air says it plans to initially operate Uyo-Abuja and Uyo-Lagos services. The carrier received its first three aircraft in early 2019 and is expected to take delivery of another three in 2020 and three more in 2021.
  • TAP Air Portugal plans to launch three times weekly Lisbon-Banjul service effective 26-Oct-2019 with A320 aircraft.
  • Africa World Airlines plans to increase Accra-Abuja frequency from seven to 10 times weekly, effective 11-Jun-2019.
  • Aigle Azur has opened reservations for a new weekly Lille-Oran link from 03-Jul-2019 to 02-Oct-2019 and weekly Lille-Algiers from 03-Jul-2019 to 02-Oct-2019, increase to twice weekly from 11-Jul-2019 to 29-Aug-2019. The new Algeria routes will be operated by Boeing 737 equipment.
  • Air France has revised the start date for its Paris-Bamako-Abidjan service from 23-Sep-2019 to 07-Oct-2019, according to Routes Online.
  • Nouvelair Tunisie, operating for Thomas Cook Airlines, launched weekly Leeds Bradford-Enfidha service, effective 23-May-2019. The seasonal service will operate until 24-Sep-2019.
  • Lufthansa plans to replace A321 with A330 equipment on one of two daily Frankfurt-Cairo frequencies from 01-Jul-2019 to 30-Sep-2019.
  • TUI UK plans to launch weekly Newcastle-Agadir service, effective 07-May-2020.