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.

Jumia Travel: Improved visa facilitation in Africa provides ‘major boost’

Jumia Travel stated improved visa facilitation in major tourism countries in Africa provides “a major boost” to tourism and aviation. Jumia head of travel Estelle Verdier said implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area is expected to further boost domestic travel. South African Tourism acting CEO Sthembiso Dlamini commented: “Most African government leaders are now committed to making travel between African countries easier and more affordable”.

FlySafair enters ‘fly now-pay later’ partnership with Mobicred

FlySafair head of sales and distribution Kirby Gordon reported the carrier entered a partnership with Mobicred to allow passengers to use “Mobicred payment” on the carrier’s website to travel before final payment. Mobicred CEO Jason Sive reported the “fly now-pay later” partnership “validates the demand from customers for alternative online tender types” and makes “air travel more accessible”.

Mauritius Government allocates USD3m to support Air Mauritius operations to China

Mauritius’ Minister of Tourism Anil Gayan reportedly stated the government allocated MUR125 million (USD3.4 million) to support and promote Air Mauritius’ China operations. The funding will support measures including marketing strategies for the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority. Air Mauritius operates twice weekly Mauritius-Shanghai Pudong service and is the only carrier operating nonstop between Mauritius and China, according to OAG.

Liberians able to access EU Schengen visas in Monrovia

Liberia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced EU Schengen zone member states disclosed a plan to commence officially the issuance of Schengen visas in Monrovia, effective 16-Sep-2019. Travellers wishing to visit the Schengen zone will no longer be required to travel to Abidjan to obtain Schengen visas and are able to book visa appointments at the local temporary Schengen visa centre in Monrovia.

Cape Verde Government to complete sale of shares in Cabo Verde Airlines by end of 2019

Cape Verde’s Secretary of State for Finance Gilberto Barros reportedly stated the government intends to complete the sale of all its remaining shares in Cabo Verde Airlines by the end of 2019. A group of 91 employees of the airline reportedly acquired 25,350 shares in the company, valued at CVE31.4 million (USD313,000), as part of a share offering to staff. Another 75,000 shares will reportedly be offered to local investors by the end of Sep-2019 and 390,000 shares, representing a 39% stake in the airline, will be offered for sale to institutional investors.

Benin City plans airport apron extension

Benin City airport manager Olatokunbo Arewa reported plans to extend the airport’s apron to meet increasing demand. Mr Arewa said: “We are expecting two or three more airlines to commence activities at the Benin Airport before the end of the year. So, we are making plans to expand our apron so we can accommodate two or three planes at the same time”.

News Briefs

  • Uganda Airlines will receive two more aircraft and expand its network from mid Oct-2019, the carrier confirms. New destinations will include Johannesburg, Kigali, Lusaka and Zanzibar. The airline will also increase Nairobi frequency to three times daily.
  • Emirates Airline was the top airline operating in Africa by revenue in 2018/19, earning more than USD837 million from Africa services, according to research from Jumia Travel. The top air route in Africa for the period Apr-2018 to Mar-2019 was from Johannesburg to Dubai, generating USD315.6 million in revenue. TAAG and South African Airways (SAA) were the only African airlines among the top 10 African air routes by revenue
  • Tunisia’s Tourism Minister Rene Trabelsi revealed Thomas Cook Group owed Tunisian hotels EUR60 million for stays in Jul/Aug-2019, adding that the airline’s collapse could also lead to the loss of 50,000 travellers still due to visit the country in 2019. Around 4,500 Thomas Cook customers were in Tunisia at the time of the group’s collapse.
  • Air Austral has launched a “cooling off” option on its website, allowing passengers up to 11 days before departure to reserve a guaranteed rate on a service for up to five days. The new option will cost EUR20 per passenger and will automatically cancel after five days if not booked.
  • African Airlines Association (AFRAA) and International Air Transport Association (IATA) have signed a MoU to establish a framework of cooperation for operational safety and a MoU on data and market intelligence partnership.

CAPACITY SNAPSHOT: African Domestic Seats (as at 23-Sep-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

  • Tanzania Government Flight Agency CEO Benjamin Ndimila reported the agency signed an agreement with Airbus to acquire two A220-300 aircraft for Air Tanzania. The carrier’s MD and CEO Ladislaus Matindi said the two A220s will expand the airline’s fleet to 11 aircraft.
  • TAP Air Portugal plans to deploy A330neo aircraft on Lisbon-Luanda service effective 01-Oct-2019.
  • Kenya Airways has reportedly appointed Air Partner to conduct “a desktop review addressing a series of questions” regarding the proposed sale and leaseback of one Boeing 777-300ER, six 787-8s and one spare GEnx engine.

CAPACITY SNAPSHOT: African International Seats (as at 23-Sep-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 plans to commence three times weekly Cairo-Hangzhou service, operated with Boeing 787 aircraft, effective 29-Nov-2019. It will be the only carrier operating the service, according to OAG.
  • SmartLynx Airlines reportedly plans to operate weekly Riga-Hurghada and Riga-Sharm el Sheikh charter services in winter 2019/2020, on behalf of Tez Tour Latvija. The services are scheduled to operate with A320 aircraft.
  • Jambojet has received authorisation to commence services to Bujumbura, Goma and Mogadishu. The airline is awaiting rights to also operate to Comoros, Juba, Kilimanjaro, Mwanza and Zanzibar.
  • Magma Aviation plans to commence weekly Kigali freight service with Boeing 747F equipment on 02-Oct-2019, according to International Airline Partners and Chapman Freeborn Airmarketing.
  • Kenya Airways suspended services to Libreville and Cotonou, effective 14-Oct-2019. The carrier stated the suspensions are in line with the airline’s strategy to align its network worldwide
  • Turkish Airlines launched Luxor service on 23-Sep-2019. The carrier is scheduled to operate four times weekly Istanbul-Luxor service with Boeing 737-800 aircraft, according to OAG.
  • Senegal’s Minister of Tourism and Air Transport Alioune Sarr reportedly announced Air Senegal plans to commence Dakar-Washington service within the next six months. The airline will be the sole scheduled operator on the route, according to OAG.