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 to lease A350-900 for Johannesburg-New York route, but remains in ‘precarious position’

South African Airways has announced plans to replace A340-600 aircraft operating Johannesburg-New York JFK service with leased A350-900 aircraft in 2H2019, with a lease for up to three years. The aircraft will have full flat beds in business class and 246 economy seats and is expected to reduce fuel burn by approximately 20% compared to the A340. This is a sensible move for the ailing carrier, which South Africa’s public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan describes as still being “in a precarious position” having consistently sustained losses over the past 12 years. Mr Gordhan reported the carrier holds the possibility for “an investment case” if the company reforms and restructures with the addition of a “strategic equity partner” as a possibility. Mr Gordhan also said that for state owned enterprises in South Africa, there is potential for “greater intervention from the shareholder if the boards and management do not take the steps needed to deliver on the outcomes expected of each company”.

fastjet CEO Nico Bezuidenhout returns to Mango

Mango appointed Nico Bezuidenhout as CEO, effective 01-Oct-2019. Mr Bezuidenhout is expected to “reinforce executive management capacity” and accelerate implementation of the carrier’s turnaround strategy. The airline stated the appointment of a permanent CEO “is a step in stabilising leadership and strengthening the executive capacity of the group”. Mr Bezuidenhout is currently fastjet Group CEO and will be succeeded by deputy CEO Mark Hurst, who will become acting CEO. Mr Bezuidenhout was the founding CEO of Mango from 2006 to 2016 and served as acting CEO for South African Airways (SAA) on two occasions.

Tanzania Aviation Authority to consider fastjet Tanzania licence application in Nov-2019

Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA) director general Hamza Johari reportedly stated the authority will consider fastjet Tanzania’s application for a licence to resume domestic and international services at the TCAA’s next licensing meeting in Nov-2019. The airline is seeking authorisation to operate from Dar Es Salaam to Arusha, Kigoma, Kilimanjaro, Mbeya, Mwanza, Tabora, Zanzibar, Dubai, Johannesburg, Kigali, Lubumbashi, Lusaka and Moroni. Mr Johari reportedly said fastjet Tanzania is in the process of resolving all outstanding issues, including settling USD3 million in debt with the TCAA, suppliers and other creditors.

fastJet now ‘better positioned to strategically deliver sustainable growth’

fastJet is “now better positioned to strategically deliver sustainable growth” and expects to achieve operating profit for the 2019 financial year, according to its departing CEO Nico Bezuidenhout. He reported the carrier successfully completed a stabilisation process it commenced in 2016 with the carrier remaining “focused on managing the macro-economic challenges confronting the business and on improving fastjet’s performance”. Mr Bezuidenhout additionally noted the carrier is “a fundamentally different business to that of eighteen months ago”.

News Briefs

  • South African Tourism reported South Africans “showed enthusiasm for travelling” in the first four months of 2019, with “exceptional growth” in domestic tourism. Domestic holiday trips increased by a “staggering” 59.7% year-on-year for the period Jan-2019 to Apr-2019 and overall domestic trips increased 11%.
  • Tunisia’s Transport Minister Hisham Ben Ahmed has met with Libyan Minister of Transport Milad Maatouq to discuss enhancing air transport ties between the countries. Mr Ahmed expressed interest in the resumption of Tunisair service to Libya, which is currently prevented by security conditions.
  • Nigeria’s Rivers state government plans to make improvements at Port Harcourt International airport to improve its international credibility. This is part of a wider aim to make the airport a destination of choice in the nation.

CAPACITY SNAPSHOT: African Domestic Seats (as at 01-Jul-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

  • Tunisair is deploying a leased Airbus A330-300 aircraft to operate flights between Tunis and both Istanbul and Paris Orly during summer 2019. The aircraft will be retained until 30-Sep-2019, according to current published schedules.
  • Air Algerie has received government approval for the acquisition of six new aircraft valued at USD2 billion, according to Algeria’s Minister of Public Works and Transport.
  • EgyptAir received one Boeing 787-9 (SU-GET, MSN 38801), as recorded by the CAPA Fleet Database. The aircraft was delivered to AerCap and leased to the airline.
  • Cabo Verde Airlines administrator Armindo Sousa reported the airline plans to operate five Boeing 757-200s by the end of 2019. The company currently operates three 757-200 aircraft.
  • Air Senegal will take delivery of its fourth Airbus A319 (6V-AMC) from Iberia in 2H2019. The airline will also take delivery of its second A330 (6V-ANB) in Sep-2020 initially deploying the aircraft on Dakar-Paris service, with plans to later launch a second long haul route to the US.

CAPACITY SNAPSHOT: African International Seats (as at 01-Jul-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

  • Qatar Airways launched three times weekly Doha-Mogadishu service, effective 01-Jul-2019. The carrier operates the route with A320 equipment.
  • CemAir and SA Airlink are finalising plans to commence Johannesburg-Margate services in Jul-2019.
  • EgyptAir plans to extend three times weekly Cairo-N’Djamena service to Douala, effective 21-Jul-2019, reports Routes Online.
  • Iberia announced plans to commence four times weekly Madrid-Cairo service, operated with 141 seat A319 equipment, effective 02-Mar-2020.
  • Ethiopian Airlines Group plans to launch three times weekly Addis Ababa-Bossaso-Garowe-Addis Ababa service, operating with De Havilland Canada Dash 8 equipment, effective 15-Jul-2019.
  • Silverstone Air commenced daily Nairobi Wilson-Wajir service on 24-Jun-2019. The airline serves 13 domestic destinations in addition to Wajir, according to OAG.
  • Air Algerie plans to launch twice weekly Constantine-Lille service, effective 30-Oct-2019. The carrier will operate the route with Boeing 737-600/800 equipment.