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.

Kenya Airways Group optimistic investment initiatives are paying off

Kenya Airways Group stated it is optimistic that strategic investment initiatives implemented over the last two years under its turnaround programme “are progressively paying off”. The carrier’s chairman Michael Joseph noted losses decreased by more than 250% between 2014 and the end of 2018. Mr Joseph commented: “Despite the tough market environment, we are making positive strides which involve resource optimisation and the robust growth approach we have taken in this very competitive marketplace. Some of these investments may deny us, our shareholders and stakeholders the coveted bottom line numbers, but we have our eyes on the bigger picture”. The airline revealed new routes to destinations including Geneva, Libreville, Malindi, Mauritius, Mogadishu, New York and Rome delivered a +6.6% increase in passenger numbers to 2.4 million, boosting passenger revenue by +5.9% to KES42.6 billion (USD411.8 million).

fastjet introduces ‘FlexiFlyer’ fare

fastjet has introduced the ‘FlexiFlyer’ fare option, offering benefits including dedicated check in, airport lounge services and priority boarding. Dedicated check in is available in Bulawayo, Harare, Johannesburg and Victoria Falls. Access to partner lounges is available from two hours prior to departure, under the fare booking category.

Mozambique and Qatar sign comprehensive air transport agreement

Qatar Civil Aviation Authority chairman Abdulla bin Nasser Turki al-Subaey and Mozambique’s Vice Minister of Transport and Communications Manuela Joaquim signed a comprehensive air transport agreement, which will enable Qatar Airways to operate any number of frequencies between both countries.

Mauritius records huge spike in visitor arrivals from Saudi Arabia over first seven months of 2019

Mauritius has seen a 49% year-on-year increase in arrivals from Saudi Arabia to 13,704 visitors for the period Jan-2019 to Jul-2019, according to the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority. Saudi Arabia has now increased from Mauritius’ 12th largest international inbound market into its top ten. Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority director Arvind Bundhun described Saudi Arabia as “a key strategic market for Mauritius” and said Saudia “has been instrumental in their contribution towards the seamless link of passengers between our two countries”.

News Briefs

  • Air Senegal and Uganda Airlines have joined the African Airlines Association (AFRAA). The association now has 43 member airlines, which account for more than 85% of international traffic handled by African carriers.
  • Kenya Airways and Delta Air Lines plan to expand their codeshare network to include the African carrier’s Nairobi-Dar Es Salaam, Nairobi-Entebbe, Nairobi-Lusaka and Nairobi-Maputo services from 01-Sep-2019.
  • Latest data from ACI shows the African region continued to grow significantly in Jun-2019, up +12.3%. 1H2019 growth was +7.1%, the highest of all regions of the world. The international passenger growth of +8.3% in 1H2019 was the main driver of the demand growth.
  • The closure of the main runway at Blantyre Chileka airport for maintenance and upgrade work has been extended until 31-Oct-2019. The runway was initially closed on 24-Apr-2019.

CAPACITY SNAPSHOT: African Domestic Seats (as at 26-Aug-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 Tanzania has seen one of its new Airbus A220-300 aircraft impounded at Johannesburg Oliver R Tambo International Airport on the order of the Gauteng High Court.
  • Ethiopian Airlines took delivery of one DHC-8Q-402(NG) (ET-AXF MSN 4602), as recorded by the CAPA Fleet Database. The airline now has 20 Q400s in service and another eight on order.
  • TAAG expects to receive six de Havilland Canada Dash 8-400 aircraft at a rate of one per month from Jan-2020. The aircraft will be configured with 72 seats and will be deployed on domestic and regional routes.
  • EgyptAir completed the inaugural test flight of its first A220-300 aircraft, Airbus has confirmed. The A220-300 is now entering the final phase of completion and is scheduled for delivery in the coming weeks.

CAPACITY SNAPSHOT: African International Seats (as at 26-Aug-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

  • TAAG executive committee chairman Rui Carreira reportedly stated the carrier is considering commencing London and Paris services to support connectivity with Anglophone and Francophone countries in Africa. Lisbon and Porto are currently the airline’s only European destinations, according to OAG.
  • Afriqiyah Airways has reportedly commenced weekly Benghazi-Sabha service with A320 equipment. All operations at Sabha Airport have been halted since 2014, but resumed earlier in Aug-2019.
  • fastjet Zimbabwe has received approval from the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe to increase frequencies on existing services linking Bulawayo to Harare and also to Johannesburg, with effect from Sep-2019.
  • easyJet plans to launch twice weekly Belfast-Marrakech service, effective 31-Oct-2019. According to OAG, easyJet will be the sole carrier on the route.
  • Congo Airways CEO Désiré Balazire Bantu stated the airline is considering basing an aircraft in Brazzaville to serve Abidjan, Cotonou, Douala and Libreville on a daily basis. The carrier may also launch operations between Brazzaville and Bangui.
  • Ethiopian Airlines plans to replace Boeing 737-800 with 767-300ER equipment on five of seven weekly Addis Ababa-Seychelles frequencies, effective 27-Oct-2019, according to the CAPA Route Changes Database.
  • Air Malta plans to commence twice weekly Malta-Cairo service on 02-Sep-2019 and will be the sole scheduled operator on the route.
  • Uganda Airlines intends to increase Entebbe-Mogadishu frequency from four to six times weekly due to strong advanced sales ahead of the carrier’s launch.
  • Fly540 applied to the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority for authorisation to expand domestic operations to Amboseli, Isiolo, Lewa, Meru, Moyale, Nanyuki and Samburu.
  • Arik Air plans to commence daily Lagos-Asaba service with CRJ900 equipment on 29-Aug-2019.
  • Austrian Airlines plans to commence three times weekly Vienna-Marrakech service on 04-Sep-2019. Laudamotion and Air Arabia Maroc also operate the route, according to OAG.
  • Air Mauritius reportedly plans to increase Mauritius-Cape Town frequency from twice to seven times weekly in 2020. The airline also serves Durban and Johannesburg in South Africa.
  • Eurowings plans to commence weekly Dusseldorf-Agadir service on 21-Oct-2019.