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.

‘The rate at which airlines are taxed is alarming,’ says African Airlines Association

African Airlines Association director of government, legal and industry affairs Aaron Munetsi advocated for African governments to cease imposing unnecessary charges on airlines. Mr Munetsi said: “The rate at which airlines are taxed is alarming. Sometimes airlines are charged just for writing their names on the boarding pass”. Mr Munetsi continued: “Charging Africans to pay for visas is an act of poverty. African governments must look for other means of making money but not through multiple taxation”.

French arrivals to Seychelles have slipped since Joon ceased operations in May-2019

Seychelles Tourism Board (STB) has reported French arrivals to the Seychelles have decreased slightly since Joon ceased operations in May-2019. Seychelles registered a record 362,000 arrivals in 2018, including 38,000 French visitors. STB hopes numbers will even out by the end of 2019 following the resumption of daily Paris CDG-Seychelles service by Air France in late Oct-2019.

Ethiopian Airlines may formalise deal to acquire 10 to 20 A220s before year-end

Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Tewolde GebreMariam revealed the airline expects to complete negotiations with Airbus for the acquisition of 10 to 20 A220 aircraft by the end of 2019. Mr GebreMariam said the A220s would enable nonstop services to smaller markets in Africa, which cannot sustain nonstop operations with larger narrowbody aircraft.

African airports are becoming more non-aeronautical focused

ACI Africa secretary general Ali Tounsi reported “a paradigm shift during the past few years” as African airports are becoming increasingly orientated around non-aeronautical forms of revenue. Mr Tounsi explained this was due to “higher profit margin, greater financial stability, and sustainability as well as the capacity to withstand traffic volatility to some extent”. Mr Tounsi reported Africa’s aviation industry “is experiencing a bumpy ride” but has the potential to grow significantly provided liberalisation is facilitated. He added: “Further liberalisation and competition throughout all sectors of the air transport value chain would enable access to new markets, both within the continent and on an intercontinental basis”.

Uganda Airlines receives third and fourth aircraft, to expand regional network

Uganda Airlines announced the arrival of its third and fourth CRJ900 aircraft (5X-KDP and 5X-KNP) in Entebbe on 07-Oct-2019. Acting CEO Cornwell Muleya stated the new aircraft will enable the carrier to expand its network to destinations in Central and Southern Africa, including Addis Ababa, Asmara, Djibouti, Hargeisa, Kinshasa, Lusaka and Zanzibar. The airline also expects to take delivery of two Airbus A330-800 aircraft in Dec-2020 and Jan-2021.

SA Express approved to commence Angola, Botswana and Zimbabwe services

SA Express received approval from South Africa’s International Air Services Council to offer services to Angola, Botswana and Zimbabwe. The airline intends to commence Cape Town-Gaborone, Johannesburg-Bulawayo and Luanda services as soon as possible. SA Express stated approval for the services was delayed due to objections by SA Airlink. SA Express spokesperson Mpho Majatladi stated the approval “allows us to accelerate the implementation of our strategy to offer increased much needed regional services to achieve commercial sustainability”. Ms Majatladi described Bulawayo, Gaborone and Luanda as “high yield markets”.

News Briefs

  • Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Tewolde GebreMariam confirmed the airline has signed a shareholders’ agreement with Ghana’s Government for the new Ghanaian national carrier. Mr GebreMariam stated: “Hopefully it will be up and running in the next six months”.
  • Morocco’s National Tourism Office (MNTO) has signed a partnership agreement with Transavia France to reinforce routes from Paris Orly, Nantes and Lyon to Morocco.
  • East African Legislative Assembly Member for Kenya Aden Omar Abdikadir stated implementation of a single tourism visa for the East African Community states is “long overdue”. Mr Abdikadir said a joint visa would support growth in tourism revenue for member states.
  • ASL Airlines France is interested in acquiring traffic rights from Paris Orly Airport to Algeria left from the insolvency of Aigle Azur. CEO Jean-François Dominiak said:  “The entire Aigle Azur network is of interest to us”.

CAPACITY SNAPSHOT: African Domestic Seats (as at 07-Oct-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

  • Ethiopian Airlines received one new A350-900 (ET-AWO, MSN 345) as recorded by the CAPA Fleet Database. The airline now operates 13 A350s with 11 remaining on order.
  • EgyptAir deployed A220-300 equipment on Cairo-Budapest service, effective 04-Oct-2019.

CAPACITY SNAPSHOT: African International Seats (as at 07-Oct-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

  • Air Algerie plans to launch Algiers-Tamanrasset-Djanet service, effective Nov-2019 using Boeing 737-800 equipment.
  • Ethiopian Airlines plans to replace Boeing 777-200LR with A350-900 equipment on five times weekly Addis Ababa-Dublin-Toronto Pearson-Addis Ababa service, effective 26-Oct-2019. Toronto is the airline’s only destination in Canada, according to OAG.
  • Air Tanzania suspended its Dar Es Salaam-Johannesburg service, effective 07-Oct-2019. The airline commenced the service in late Jun-2019 but temporarily suspended operations on the route in Aug/Sep-2019 after one of its A220 aircraft was impounded in Johannesburg.