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.
Comair ‘well placed’ in a ‘challenging’ market: CEOs
Comair (South Africa) joint CEOs Wrenelle Stander and Glenn Orsmond stated the market environment for the airline remains “challenging”, with “stagnant” domestic passenger growth against a background of zero GDP growth. Ms Stander and Mr Orsmond said competition remains “fierce” and excess seat capacity in the market is expected to exert downward pressure on yields and load factors in FY2019/20. However, the airline plans to expand capacity to achieve revenue growth, utilising its existing fleet and employee cost base to achieve lower unit costs. Cost pressures are expected to continue, linked to the “volatile” South African rand, crude oil prices and uncertainties regarding the return to service of the Boeing 737 MAX. The transition of fleet line maintenance from SAA Technical to Lufthansa is expected to increase maintenance costs for the next two years. Ms Stander and Mr Orsmond concluded: “The Group is… well placed to operate in these conditions, with strong brands, committed staff, good cash reserves, a low cost base and a clear diversification strategy to mitigate airline risk with new revenue streams”.
Cameroon and Qatar discussing ‘revival’ of Camair-Co
Cameroon Civil Aviation Authority officials have confirmed discussions took place last week between Cameroon and Qatar’s Ministries of Transport focused on the “revival” of Camair-Co. Discussions covered the “densification” of the airline’s fleet, the training of flight crew and technical personnel, the opening of a maintenance centre, technical support and opening the capital of Camair-Co.
Kenya Airways outgoing CEO remains sceptical about SAATM; African skies should be opened ‘in a cautious way’
Kenya Airways Group CEO and MD Sebastian Mikosz stated he is sceptical about the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) project, commenting: “I believe that at the current stage of development of the African market, we need to have more airlines created and more connectivity”. Mr Mikosz added: “Any opening of the skies should be done in a cautious way not to create a situation where you have few monopolies dominate the market”. He also stated: “It is inaccurate to compare African with European Union because SAATM does not have the control mechanism that led to open skies in EU. One of the key issues in Africa is different financial structures of the airlines. The basic assumption of a single sky in the EU is that airlines have the equal financial treatment and do not allow any form of subsidies. When you look at the African skies as they are today, most are state owned and not listed so you have different financial treatment of airlines”.
EU and African Union launch EU-Africa Safety in Aviation initiative
EU and the African Union launched the EU-Africa Safety in Aviation project. The EUR5 million technical assistance initiative is managed by EASA under the umbrella of the Africa-EU Partnership and the Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs. The project will assist African member states to establish an effective aviation safety oversight system in the next three years and includes a set of activities to provide support on continental, regional and national scales. The main goals of the project are to strengthen Regional Safety Oversight Organisations (RSOO) and assist African States to meet obligations under the Chicago Convention to establish an effective aviation safety oversight system.
- Green Africa Airways launched its brand identity ahead of the brand’s full launch in 2020. The brand identity was designed by design consultancy Pentagram. The airline launched updated social media channels and will reveal new website, aircraft livery and cabin crew uniform designs closer to the full launch.
- Namibia’s Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration has launched a ‘Visa upon Arrival’ pilot project at Windhoek Hosea Kutako International airport. The project aims to stimulate economic growth in the nation. The project introduces e-visa or visa on arrival at the airport’s entry point at a low nominal fee for arrivals from over 45 countries.
- Tunisia’s Jasmin Airways plans to reposition itself as a LCC from Nov-2019, according to its CEO Ali Ben Amara. He told trade publication Arabian Aerospace that the airline is “geared towards development and progress” not “competition” and will “do what Tunisair doesn’t do and vice versa”.
CAPACITY SNAPSHOT: African Domestic Seats (as at 30-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)
- EgyptAir received one A220-300 aircraft (SU-GEY, MSN 55059), as recorded by the CAPA Fleet Database. This is the second A220 aircraft to be delivered to the airline, the first of which is operated by EgyptAir Express.
- Air France will debut its A350-900 on commercial operations to Africa next week. The aircraft will be used on Paris CDG-Abidjan and Paris CDG-Bamako from 07-Oct-2019 to 08-Dec-2019 and from 10-Feb-2020 for summer 2020 season.
- Jambojet has confirmed the delivery of its sixth Q400 aircraft. The aircraft is the first of four expected by the airline in 2019.
- Uganda Airlines announced its third and fourth CRJ900 aircraft will be delivered in mid Oct-2019. The airline operates two CRJ900s and also has two A330-800s on order, according to the CAPA Fleet Database.
- Comair (South Africa) expects the delivery of the carrier’s second Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, originally planned for Mar-2019, in Feb-2020 and the third aircraft is expected to be delivered in Jun-2020, instead of Feb-2020.
- Emirates Airline plans to deploy A380 equipment on Dubai-Cairo route, effective 02-Oct-2019, making it the first scheduled commercial airline to operate A380 equipment into Egypt.
- Turkish Airlines plans to operate weekly Istanbul-Casablanca frequency with Boeing 787-9 aircraft from 29-Oct-2019 to 28-Mar-2020, instead of 777-300ER. The service is scheduled to operate daily in winter 2019/2020, according to OAG.
CAPACITY SNAPSHOT: African International Seats (as at 30-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)
- euroAtlantic airways plans to maintain Lisbon-Sao Tome and Principe service, in spite of reaching an agreement with Sao Tome and Principe’s Government to sell its 40% stake in STP Airways. According to OAG, STP Airways is the sole operator providing Portugal-Sao Tome and Principe connectivity.
- Uganda Airlines is expected to commence Kilimanjaro and Mombasa services on 11-Oct-2019. The carrier also plans to commence Johannesburg, Kigali, Lusaka and Zanzibar services and increase Mogadishu and Nairobi frequency by the end of 2019.
- EgyptAir plans to launch twice weekly Cairo-Hangzhou service with Boeing 787-9 aircraft from 29-Nov-2019, marking the first nonstop service between China’s Eastern region and North Africa. The carrier plans to increase frequency to three times weekly from 20-Jan-2020.
- Air Peace commenced daily Lagos-Warri service with Embraer ERJ 145 equipment on 27-Sep-2019. Warri is the airline’s 16th domestic destination. The carrier also plans to commence Abuja-Warri and Port Harcourt-Warri services. Meanwhile, Nigeria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has announced that South Africa’s Government has granted a request for the airline to commence commercial service to Johannesburg.
- Ethiopian Airlines plans to commence three times weekly Addis Ababa-Athens-Moscow Domodedovo service with Boeing 787-8 equipment on 13-Dec-2019, replacing nonstop Addis Ababa-Moscow service, according to the CAPA Route Changes Database. The airline does not yet have local traffic rights for the Athens-Moscow sector.