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 director: ‘Absolutely nothing has changed’ in turnaround plan

South African Airways (SAA) non executive director Martin Kingston reported “there is absolutely nothing that has changed” by the resignation of group CEO Vuyani Jarana. Mr Kingston further stated the carrier’s “long term turnaround strategy which was approved by the board and by the shareholder remains on track and is beginning to bear fruit in a number of respects”. As previously reported by CAPA, Mr Jarana joined SAA in Nov-2017 and will remain until the end of Aug-2019 to ensure the transition of responsibilities. The airline has appointed Ms Zuks Ramasia as acting CEO and has commenced search for a permanent CEO to stabilise the company and to oversee the implementation of the long term turnaround strategy.

SAATM will correct traffic imbalance in African market

Ethiopian Airlines managing director Ethiopian International Services Esayas Woldermariam Haliu stated the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) will help reverse the traffic imbalance in the African market, which is currently operated by 80% non African carriers and 20% African carriers. Mr Haliu added the SAATM will enable African carriers “to grow, thrive and dominate” 80% of the market so that “employment, taxes, revenue and opportunity the capital sinks in the African continent and does not fly away”.

Kenya Airways shareholders voice concerns over nationalisation plans

Kenya Airways (KQ) minority shareholders voiced opposition towards plans to nationalise the carrier during its 2019 annual general meeting (AGM). The Kenyan government currently holds a 48.9% stake in the carrier, and its Parliamentary transport committee is reviewing creation of an aviation holding company in which KQ would be 100% state owned, chairman Michael Joseph said. He reassured shareholders “it is not our wish to nationalise the airline”, adding: “If this is… in the interest of both KQ and the aviation industry in Kenya, then I would say this is the right way to go”.

Air Mauritius A330-900neo allows ‘vastly improved experience’ for passengers

Air Mauritius UK and Ireland regional manager Ian Nash has reported the carrier has seen double digit growth in bookings since it integrated the A330-900neo into its fleet. He noted customer feedback indicates the aircraft provides a “vastly improved experience, especially the upgraded inflight entertainment in economy, and the flat beds in business class,” reports trade publication TTG. Following delivery of its second A330-900neo, the aircraft will be deployed fully on Mauritius-London Heathrow service by the end of Jun-2019.

Air Seychelles adjusts baggage allowances for regional services

Air Seychelles has reviewed its baggage allowance across its regional network, with a new structure to apply from 01-Jul-2019. Baggage will be based on total weight instead of the number of bags. Checked baggage may not exceed 32kg and hand luggage may not exceed dimensions of 55cm x 40cm x 20cm. For point-to-point travel between Seychelles and Mauritius, baggage will be based on the number of bags instead of total weight.

News Briefs

  • Air Peace reports lessors reluctant to lease aircraft to Nigerian carriers. Its CEO Allen Onyema revealed the carrier is having trouble leasing aircraft to replace other aircraft in its fleet undergoing maintenance. Mr Onyema said: “The risk department of the leasing companies will say that they would not lease aircraft to us because Air Peace is a Nigerian entity”.
  • Syphax Airlines has reportedly resumed operations following an agreement with a Nigerian company to provide services to African countries. The Tunisian airline previously ceased operations on 30-Jul-2015.
  • Royal Air Maroc inaugurated its new base at Laayoune Hassan I Airport on 11-Jun-2019. The carrier also launched new routes from Laayoune to Dakhla, Marrakech, Guelmim and Las Palmas.
  • Acro Aircraft Seating announced it has been selected by Mango Airlines to supply its Series 3 Ultra Economy Class seat for two of the carrier’s Boeing 737-800 aircraft.

CAPACITY SNAPSHOT: African Domestic Seats (as at 10-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

  • EgyptAir Cargo reportedly plans to take delivery of a third A330-200P2F aircraft (MSN 610) converted by Elbe Flugzeugwerke in 3Q2019. The airline plans to convert up to four additional EgyptAir A330s from passenger to freighter configuration.
  • Fly Angola plans to acquire one 30 seat Embraer EMB-120 Brasilia to be registered under partner AeroJet’s AOC. The EMB-120 will be based in Luanda, operating Benguela, Cabinda, Soyo and Lubango services and feeder services from Namibe, Lubango and Ondjiva to its Benguela hub.
  • Libyan Airlines CEO Fadel al-Kassah stated the carrier plans take delivery of four A350 aircraft in 2022. According to the CAPA Fleet Database, the carrier has six aircraft of the type on order.
  • Air Senegal received its third A319 aircraft. The aircraft is configured with 12 business class and 108 economy class seats and is expected to be deployed on routes to Abidjan, Conakry, Cotonou and eventually to destinations in southern Europe.

CAPACITY SNAPSHOT: African International Seats (as at 10-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

  • Ethiopian Airlines finalised preparations for the launch of three times weekly Abidjan-New York JFK sector of Addis Ababa-Abidjan-New York JFK service with Boeing 787-8 equipment, effective 17-Jun-2019. This will grow its New York operation to a daily schedule with its already operational four times weekly Addis Ababa-Lome-New York Newark service.
  • Saudia launched a three times weekly Jeddah-Marrakech service on 10-Jun-2019. The carrier operates the route with Boeing 787 equipment.
  • Ibom Air launched its Uyo-Lagos and Uyo-Abuja service on 07-Jun-2019 after receiving an AOC from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority on 06-Jun-2019. The airline is using Bombardier CRJ900 aircraft on the services.
  • Cabo Verde Airlines reportedly plans to increase Fortaleza-Sal Island frequency from two to three times weekly from 01-Jul-2019.