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.

South African Airways CEO resigns

South African Airways’ (SAA) board accepted the resignation of group CEO Vuyani Jarana. Mr Jarana joined SAA in Nov-2017 and will remain until the end of Aug-2019 to ensure the transition of his responsibilities. The SAA board will immediately commence the process of searching for a new CEO.

IATA: Government of Nigeria and FAAN have halted the airport privatisation program

IATA senior vice president airport, passenger, cargo, security Nick Careen, speaking at a media briefing on the sidelines of the 2019 IATA AGM and World Air Transport summit, provided an update on IATA’s global campaigns related to airport privatisation. One state already implementing airport privatisation is Nigeria, and he said: “Due to recent elections in Nigeria, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria [FAAN] and the Government have stopped the airport privatisation program. IATA will follow up on the issue once the new ministers and cabinet are appointed”.

Ethiopian Airlines CEO: ‘The growth is going to continue and we’re even scaling up’

Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Tewolde GebreMariam forecast 14% year-on-year traffic growth in 2019 and a 20% increase in 2020. Mr GebreMariam said: “We are already moving forward, business is good, the brand is strong and we’re still the leading connector of Africa to the world. The growth is going to continue and we’re even scaling up. I’m very confident”. He also commented: “The business model is still strong, it’s a very wise strategy and the growth in the continent still continues”.

IATA: Taxes and charges are a ‘major issue’ in the Middle East and Africa

IATA regional vice president for Africa and Middle East Mohammed Ali Albakri, speaking at a media briefing on the sidelines of the 2019 IATA AGM and World Air Transport summit, highlighted taxes and charges are a “major issue in the region”. He highlighted recent examples such as Algeria imposing a VAT of 19% in 2018, Iraq increasing overflight charges by 22% in 2018 and Egypt raising overflight charges by 11% in 2019. Mr Ali Albakri said that with airline financial sustainability at risk for most of the region governments need to establish a meaningful consultation process in line with ICAO’s policies which highlight the key charging principles to be followed of non-discrimination, cost-relatedness, transparency and consultation.

Air Malta sets its sights on connectivity into Africa

Air Malta CEO Clifford Chetcuti reported “the next step” for the airline’s route development goals is entry into the African market with destinations such as Accra and Addis Ababa. “Those two stand out, but we are looking at others as well… our new A320neos will be ETOPS certified, which is why we have to wait for the new neos to start looking at those destinations”, Mr Chetcuti noted. He also said Libya is “being actively looked at”, however the carrier “will not launch a Libyan operation unless we can provide assurance to our customers that their security and safety is at the same level as if they are flying to any other destination”.

IATA announces inaugural IATA Diversity and Inclusion ‘high flyer’ award

IATA awarded Fadimatou Noutchemo Simo the ‘High Flyer Award’ in the inaugural IATA Diversity and Inclusion Awards. Ms Simo founded the ‘Young African Aviation Professional Association’ (YAAPA) and introduced the ‘Heleta Aviation Scholarship Program’ to encourage underprivileged children in Africa to pursue a career in aviation. YAAPA additionally assisted the establishment of a Community Centre in Cameroon which plans to introduce a youth aviation tech programme for African children.

Nigeria’s Senate moves against federal government plan to downgrade Enugu Akanu Ibiam Airport

Nigeria’s Senate reportedly voted against the Federal Government’s plan to downgrade Enugu Akanu Ibiam International Airport to a domestic airport following safety concerns. The safety reasons cited by the government include a deteriorated runway, a state radio mast on the flight path of aircraft, the siting of a ‘Free Trade Zone’ at the end of the runway and the frequent occurrence of bird strikes.

News Briefs

  • South African Airways (SAA) and Alaska Airlines confirmed a new interline partnership for services between Africa and North America, effective immediately. The agreement covers connections via New York JFK International Airport and Washington Dulles International Airport between more than 75 destinations in Africa served by SAA and its regional partners and Alaska Airlines’ North America network.
  • Ethiopian Airlines secured fifth freedom traffic rights and opened reservations for the Madrid-Dublin sector of four times weekly Addis Ababa-Madrid-Dublin service, effective 01-Jun-2019, reports Routes Online. The airline commenced the service in Dec-2018.
  • Cape Town Air Access (CTAA) project manager Paul van den Brink has revealed CTAA is seeking new direct air services to Australia and Sao Paulo as a priority.

CAPACITY SNAPSHOT: African Domestic Seats (as at 03-Jun-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 Austral grounded one Boeing 787-8 (F-OLRC) on 03-Jun-2019 due to early deterioration discovered on Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engine compressor blades during scheduled inspections. The aircraft is expected to be grounded for a minimum of two months. The carrier has one other 787-8 and two 777-300ERs in its long haul fleet, according to the CAPA Fleet Database.
  • Camair-Co deployed a 50 seat Embraer ERJ-145LR aircraft on 01-Jun-2019.
  • EgyptAir will reportedly receive its third Boeing 787-9 aircraft (SU-GEU) in Jun-2019. As previously reported, the carrier took delivery of its first two 787-9 aircraft in Mar-2019 and Apr-2019.
  • Cabo Verde Airlines received the second aircraft to feature its new livery in Praia on 31-May-2019. The Boeing 757-200 is configured with 12 premium and 180 economy class seats. The airline operates three 757-200s and expects to receive another two by the end of 2019.
  • Royal Air Maroc received its third Boeing 787-9 aircraft (CN-RGZ) on 01-Jun-2019.

CAPACITY SNAPSHOT: African International Seats (as at 03-Jun-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

  • EgyptAir launched three times weekly Cairo-Washington Dulles service, effective 03-Jun-2019. The carrier operates the route with Boeing 787-9 equipment.
  • Air Cairo plans to launch twice weekly Sharm el Sheikh-Alexandria Borg el Arab service, operating between 09-Jun-2019 and 15-Sep-2019. The carrier will operate the service with Embraer E170 equipment.
  • Air Seychelles increased Seychelles-Johannesburg frequency from six to seven times weekly, effective 03-Jun-2019. The airline operates the service with A320 equipment configured with 16 business class and 120 economy class seats.
  • Silverstone Air launched twice daily Nairobi Wilson-Eldoret service with Bombardier Dash 8 equipment on 31-May-2019. The airline also serves Kisumu, Lamu, Lodwar, Malindi, Mombasa and Ukunda, according to OAG.
  • Tchadia Airlines reportedly plans to commence twice weekly N’Djamena-Bangui service on 06-Jun-2019. The airline also operates N’Djamena-Douala service and reportedly plans to expand its network to Kano, Khartoum and Niamey.
  • Air Arabia Egypt announced plans to launch weekly Sharm El Sheikh-Naples service, effective 15-Jul-2019.