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 announces restructuring to ‘urgently’ address ‘grave situation’…

South African Airways (SAA) announced it is “embarking on a restructuring process which may lead to job losses”. The airline commenced a consultation process with all 5146 employees and estimated that approximately 944 employees may be affected. The consultation process may last until 11-Jan-2020. The carrier stated the process may lead to retrenchments, but it hopes to minimise the impact while offering support to affected staff. The restructuring encompasses all SAA divisions and departments, but excludes subsidiaries Air Chefs, Mango and SAA Technical. SAA acting CEO Zuks Ramasia stated: “We urgently need to address ongoing loss making position that has subsisted over the past years. That is why we are undergoing a restructuring process that seeks to ensure effective implementation of the accelerated Long Term Turnaround Strategy amidst the present prevailing operational challenges”.

… warns potential industrial action ‘endangers the airline’s future’

South African Airways (SAA) expressed concern regarding “any threat by the unions to consider initiating industrial action”. The airline stated: “Any interruption to our operation, endangers the future of our airline; our ability to deliver our strategy and threatens every job at SAA and related industries”. SAA stated its restructuring process and wage negotiations are separate processes, but both are necessary in the context of the “serious challenges” facing the airline. The carrier held nine meetings on wage negotiations since Feb-2019. SAA stated: “It is our hope that our unions will grasp the full extent of the situation and engage with us in finding a constructive way going forward”.

Improved collaboration among African airlines is ‘the single most urgent target’

Air Mauritius CEO and African Airlines Association president Somas Appavou, stated: “Improved collaboration among African airlines is probably the single most urgent target we must set for ourselves because, alone, no African airline will successfully overcome the hurdles of scale and the high cost base that are holding back the African aviation industry”.

PATA: Africa the fastest growing source market for Asia Pacific regional arrivals in 2018

Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) reported (07-Nov-2019) Africa was the fastest growing source market for international visitor arrival numbers (IVAs) into Asia Pacific destinations in 2018, up 13% year-on-year, adding just under 500,000 new IVAs. The North African sub region in particular generated the largest volume of additional foreign arrivals into Asia Pacific between 2017 and 2018.

EgyptAir and Ethiopian expand codeshare network in Europe

EgyptAir and Ethiopian Airlines have expanded their codeshare network to include EgyptAir’s Cairo-Amsterdam, Cairo-Budapest and Cairo-Copenhagen services, effective 14-Nov-2019. EgyptAir has 23 codeshare partners and Ethiopian has 30, according to OAG.

Precision Air confident of profitability by end of 2021

Precision Air chairman Michael Shirima stated the airline is confident of becoming profitable by the end of 2021. Mr Shirima reported a 43% year-on-year increase in revenues and a 28% reduction in losses for FY2017/18. Mr Shirima commented: “Our losses have been decreasing every year”, and added: “We are happy with our performance because we’ve continued to reduce our losses, and this is a good indicator that we will start realising profits in our business”.

Royal Air Maroc and American Airlines apply to US DoT to codeshare

US Department of Transportation (DoT) received a joint application last week from American Airlines and Royal Air Maroc, requesting blanket authorisation to display each others’ designator code on frequencies operated by each airline from points behind the USA and Morocco, via the US and intermediate points, to a point or points in Morocco and the USA and beyond.

News Briefs

  • Silverstone Air temporary suspended scheduled services, effective 12-Nov-2019, in compliance with a directive from the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) to suspend the operation of its Dash 8 fleet. KCAA director general Gilbert Kibe said the directive was issued following a “surveillance audit” of the airline.
  • Ethiopian Airlines reported its ShebaMiles loyalty programme has now reached three million members. The programme was launched in Feb-1999.
  • Kenya Airways chairman Michael Joseph reported business class is “fully booked” on Nairobi-New York JFK service. Mr Joseph said economy class load factor on the service ranges between 65% and 85%.

CAPACITY SNAPSHOT: African Domestic Seats (as at 11-Nov-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 Peace acquired one Boeing 737-800 aircraft, which arrived in Lagos on 07-Nov-2019. The aircraft is configured with 16 business class and 144 economy class seats. The aircraft (CS-TQU) is wet leased from euroAtlantic airways.
  • Air Mauritius closed its first Japanese operating lease with call option (JOLCO) for one A350-900, reports AirFinance Journal. Crédit Agricole CIB is the arranger and HSBC is the debt arranger, facility agent and security trustee.
  • CAPA Fleet Database, on reconciliation of the Boeing Oct-2019 orders and delivery sheet, confirmed Air Tanzania was revealed as the customer for a previously undisclosed order for one 787-8. Similarly, on reconciliation of the Airbus Oct-2019 orders and delivery sheet, confirmed the airline has ordered two A220-300 aircraft. Its first two aircraft were delivered in late 2018.
  • EgyptAir Cargo reportedly received its third A330-200P2F aircraft at Cairo International Airport. The airline received its first A330-200P2F in Aug-2018 and its second in Feb-2019.
  • Air Austral announced one of its two Boeing 787-8 aircraft (F-OLRC) returned to the fleet in Reunion on 04-Nov-2019 after completing engine replacements at Etihad Airways Engineering in Abu Dhabi. The aircraft was deployed on Dzaoudzi-Paris service from 05-Nov-2019
  • Ethiopian Airlines deployed A350-900 equipment on Addis Ababa-Dublin-Toronto Pearson-Addis Ababa service from 10-Nov-2019. Toronto is the first North American destination to be served with A350 equipment by the airline. Around 60% of the airline’s passengers from Toronto connect via Addis Ababa to other destinations.

CAPACITY SNAPSHOT: African International Seats (as at 11-Nov-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 France reportedly plans to commence service between France and Liberia in 2020. There is currently no scheduled operator in the France-Liberia market, according to OAG.
  • Air Arabia Egypt plans to increase Cairo-Milan Bergamo frequency from twice to three times weekly, effective 16-Dec-2019.
  • Congo Airways CEO Desiré Balazire Bantu stated the airline intends to commence Brazzaville-Libreville-Douala-Cotonou-Abidjan service. The airline previously operated Kinshasa-Douala-Cotonou service but suspended the route due to strong competition.
  • Transavia France commenced twice weekly Paris Orly-Ouarzazate service on 07-Nov-2019. The LCC operated the service with Boeing 737-800 aircraft.
  • Overland Airways commenced 13 times weekly Lagos-Ilorin service on 01-Nov-2019. The airline now serves six domestic destinations, according to OAG.