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 ‘on the road to operational recovery’

South African Airways (SAA) stated it is “on the road to operational recovery” following industrial action by unions. The airline resumed all international services and some regional services. SAA continues to work with Mango, SA Airlink and SA Express to rebook all domestic customers. SAA is focused on gradually ramping up regional and domestic services. SAA acting CEO Zuks Ramasia urged striking employees to return to work and commented: “The airline cannot afford salary increases at present, because of the financial difficulties we are facing”.

Ghana agrees tentative Dreamliner and Dash 8 deals for new national carrier

Ghana’s Government signed a MoU to acquire three Boeing 787-9 aircraft powered by GEnx-1B engines, to be operated by the country’s new national carrier. An LoI to purchase up to six De Havilland Canada Dash 8-400 aircraft was also agreed. Minister of Aviation Joseph Kofi Adda said the aircraft will be used to “launch a regional network and eventually serve international destinations”. Future destinations will include Asia, Europe and North America. The government aims to finalise a purchase agreement “in the near future,” according to the minister. The aircraft will be operated by Ghana’s new national carrier and Mr Adda said the government aims to “build a broader network and become the aviation hub of West Africa”. Mr Adda added that outright purchase and leasing options will be considered and all financing options will be presented to cabinet.

Kenyan Government conducting valuation of Kenya Airways; may take full ownership in 2020

Kenya’s Department of Transport Principal Secretary Esther Koimett stated the department is working with the International Finance Corporation to conduct a valuation of Kenya Airways. The Kenyan Government may acquire full ownership of the airline by the end of 2020 by acquiring the stakes of KQ Lenders Company (38.1%), Air France-KLM (7.8%), individual investors (2.8%) and Kenya Airways employees (2.4%). Ms Koimett commented: “You have to ensure that everybody gets their dues, that is why you have to do valuation. It is a matter of getting shareholders to pass the necessary resolutions to facilitate the payouts within the law”.

Med-View Airline to resume operations as aircraft return from maintenance

Med-View Airline took redelivery of one Boeing 737-500 (registration 5N-BQM) on 17-Nov-2019 after the aircraft completed maintenance. Its COO Michael Ajigbotosho said the airline will resume Lagos-Abuja and other services “very soon”. Mr Ajigbotosho said one 737-400 (registration 5N-MAB) is expected to complete maintenance with Aero Contractors in the coming weeks and a third aircraft will return to operation by mid Dec-2019. The airline was forced to temporarily suspended operations in Aug-2019 as all its aircraft were undergoing maintenance.

News Briefs

  • Ethiopian Airlines and Boeing entered an agreement to retrofit the airline’s Boeing 787 fleet with new connectivity systems. Boeing will provide engineering, design, project management, technical assistance and training services for the modifications, which will be performed by Ethiopian Airlines’ maintenance personnel.
  • Morocco and the Maldives have reportedly signed a mutual visa waiver agreement that will allow visa free travel between the two countries from 31-Jan-2020.
  • South African Airways (SAA) has completed renegotiations or is still renegotiating contracts with suppliers, with the aim to secure more favourable terms and save up to ZAR2 billion (USD135.3 million) in cost.
  • Nigeria Immigration Service said digitisation of tourist visa applications and processing will be complete by the end of 2019, with the system enabling tourist visas to be issued within 24 to 48 hours.

CAPACITY SNAPSHOT: African Domestic Seats (as at 18-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 Senegal has signed a MoU for eight A220-300 aircraft. CEO Ibrahima Kane said the aircraft “will contribute to develop our long haul network to Europe and our regional network in Africa”.
  • ATR has delivered the first of three ATR 72-600 aircraft to Tunisair Express. The airline’s director general Yosr Chouari stated: “Regional aviation provides essential connectivity for Tunisia and the unbeatable economics of the ATR 72-600, together with the best cabin, make it perfect for both our domestic and international operations”.
  • Air Austral confirmed Air Madagascar intends to acquire A220-300 aircraft. As previously reported, Air Austral has already ordered three A220-300s.
  • SA Airlink conducted its final Avro RJ85 operations on 18-Nov-2019. There are 12 RJ85s in the airline’s fleet with an average age of 20.5 years, according to the CAPA Fleet Database.
  • EgyptAir plans to deploy A220-300 aircraft on Cairo-Moscow Domodedovo route, replacing Boeing 737-800 equipment, effective 29-Mar-2020. The airline recently received a third A220-300 (SU-GFB, MSN 55063).
  • Ethiopian Airlines received a new Boeing 787-9 (ET-AXK, MSN 62175), as recorded by the CAPA Fleet Database. The aircraft was delivered to Avolon and leased to the airline.
  • Air Peace signed a contract for three additional Embraer E195-E2 aircraft, confirming purchase rights from a contract for 13 E195-E2s with 17 purchase rights signed in Apr-2019. The first delivery is scheduled for 2Q2020 and Air Peace is expected to be the first E-Jets E2 operator in Africa.

CAPACITY SNAPSHOT: African International Seats (as at 18-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

  • Cabo Verde Airlines plans to expand operations between Cape Verde and Boston to operate weekly Sal-Boston Logan-Praia and weekly Praia-Boston Logan-Sal services from 14-Dec-2019. The carrier will operate the services with Boeing 757-200 equipment configured with 22 ‘Comfort’ class and 161 economy class seats.
  • Holiday Europe plans to launch weekly Sofia-Hurghada service from 22-Nov-2019 and Sofia-Sharm el Sheikh service from 23-Nov-2019, operating with A321 aircraft.
  • fastjet Zimbabwe plans to commence 11 times weekly Bulawayo-Johannesburg service with Embraer ERJ145 equipment on 05-Dec-2019. The airline will operate twice daily on weekdays and daily on Sundays.
  • Luxair commenced weekly Luxembourg-Hurghada-Marsa Alam service on 14-Nov-2019. The airline also plans to commence weekly Luxembourg-Hurghada service on 17-Nov-2019 and increase frequency to three times weekly, effective 29-Mar-2020 to 26-Apr-2020.