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.

SAA enters business rescue, to receive USD270m to support restructure and continued operations

South Africa’s Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan stated the business rescue process for South African Airways (SAA) commenced on 05-Dec-2019 and will prevent “a disorderly collapse of the airline” and provide an opportunity to reorganise state aviation assets to be more sustainable and more attractive to an investment partner. A business rescue practitioner will take charge of the business and operate the airline with the assistance of management, reviewing the airline’s cost structure, while attempting to maintain as many jobs as possible. During this process existing lenders will provide ZAR2 billion (USD136.6 million) to SAA as post commencement finance (PCF), guaranteed by the government and repayable from future budget appropriations. Meanwhile, The National Treasury will provide an additional ZAR2 billion in PCF “in a fiscally neutral manner”.

Underperformance of Africa compared to other regions likely to continue in 2020, predicts CAPA

CAPA – Centre for Aviation, in a report entitled: ‘Africa Aviation Outlook 2020: Performance lags, pending integration’, stated Africa’s aviation industry continues to lag behind the rest of the world. The region has the fewest annual seats, the smallest fleet of narrowbody and widebody jets, the smallest number of aircraft on order and the lowest passenger load factor. Africa also has the second lowest ratio of regional to intercontinental seat capacity, after the Middle East. The small size of the intra Africa market is due to many factors, including infrastructure and aeropolitical restrictions. Non African airlines account for 40% of seats within Africa and more than 70% of intercontinental seats. Africa’s underperformance appears likely to continue, pending the slow implementation of the Single African Air Transport Market.

Air Mauritius CEO: Fuel costs in Africa 35% higher than global average

Air Mauritius CEO Somas Appavou reported fuel costs in Africa are 35% higher than the global average, and that increased charges and taxes have worsened the situation. Mr Appavou also stated tax bills run 15% to 20% higher in Africa than in other regions, adding: “Our ticket price depends on taxes, and taxes are high everywhere in Africa”. He said: “High tax is not helping any airline to reduce cost and give better connectivity”.

Business rescue for SAA could represent ‘a watershed moment for our entire industry’

SA Airlink CEO and MD Rodger Foster has welcomed the decision to place South African Airways (SAA) into business rescue proceedings and the associated funding commitments from South Africa’s Government. Mr Foster commented: “It is a watershed moment for our entire industry and will no doubt herald change. Crucially, it averts any immediate and uncontrolled collapse of SAA and should provide clarity and greater security to Airlink, SAA’s other creditors and stakeholders, but most importantly the travelling public and our customers”.

Africa World Airlines partners with Vida e Caffè for prepurchase snacks and drinks

Africa World Airlines has announced a partnership with coffee shop brand Vida e Caffè to provide prepurchase snacks and drinks onboard domestic services, effective 09-Dec-2019. Items can be ordered through the airline’s website for pick up at the Vida e Caffè store at Accra Kotoka International Airport terminal two.

News Briefs

  • Kenya Airways has expanded codeshare partnerships with Air France and KLM to also include services from Amsterdam to Bremen, Hamburg and Stuttgart; and from Paris to Paris CDG to Athens, Bergen, Bremen, Bucharest, Budapest, Florence, Hamburg, Hannover, Lisbon, Ljubljana, Naples, Nuremberg, Porto, Prague, Stuttgart, Turin and Zagreb.
  • Air Mauritius and PressReader entered a partnership to offer passengers unlimited access to newspapers and magazines. Passengers will be able to access PressReader on their own devices for 48 hours before and after their flight through the Air Mauritius app, via an email link or at the Amédée Maingard lounge.
  • The European Commission’s updated EU Air Safety List has seen all airlines certified in Gabon released following improvements to the aviation safety situation in the country.

CAPACITY SNAPSHOT: African Domestic Seats (as at 09-Dec-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

  • Tunisair announced it signed a letter of intent with SMBC Aviation Capital for the sale and lease back of five A320neo aircraft. The aircraft are scheduled for delivery in 2021 and 2022.
  • Air Seychelles confirmed its second A320neo will be delivered in Apr-2020. The aircraft will be configured with 12 business class and 156 economy class seats.
  • Air Senegal received its second A330-900neo (6V-ANB, MSN 1923), as recorded by the CAPA Fleet Database. The aircraft is configured with 32 business class, 21 premium economy and 237 economy class seats.

CAPACITY SNAPSHOT: African International Seats (as at 09-Dec-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 commenced five times weekly Sal-Lagos service on 09-Dec-2019. The airline operates the service with Boeing 757 equipment, configured with 22 business class and 161 economy class seats.
  • Ethiopian Airlines plans to commence weekly Addis Ababa-Entebbe-Kisangani service with Boeing 737-700 equipment on 19-Dec-2019, according to the CAPA Route Changes Database. The airline also operates weekly Addis Ababa-Kisangani-Goma-Addis Ababa service.
  • Air France plans to commence twice weekly Paris CDG-Monrovia Roberts-Bamako service on 22-Apr-2020. The airline also plans to commence twice weekly Paris CDG-Bamako-Monrovia Roberts service on 20-Apr-2020, increasing to three times weekly frequency from 15-Jun-2020 to 20-Sep-2020.
  • Mauritania Airlines International plans to commence weekly Nouakchott-Nema service with Embraer ERJ145 equipment on 12-Dec-2019, according to the CAPA Route Changes Database. The airline serves four domestic destinations, according to OAG.
  • FlyEgypt plans to commence weekly Bremen-Hurghada service, operating between 14-Jul-2020 and 27-Oct-2020, on behalf of FTI Reisen.
  • Uganda Airlines plans to commence three times weekly Entebbe-Zanzibar service on 16-Dec-2019. Zanzibar will be the airline’s eighth international destination, according to OAG.
  • ASKY Airlines plans to commence three times weekly Lomé-Cotonou-Bangui service on 12-Dec-2019. The airline also intends to suspend the Niamey sector of Lomé-Cotonou-Niamey service and increase Lomé-Ouagadougou-Niamey frequency.
  • Air Seychelles plans to increase Seychelles-Mumbai frequency from six to seven times weekly, effective 27-Apr-2020 to 30-Jun-2020, subject to government approval, reports Routes Online. The airline will operate the service with A320neo equipment.
  • Tchadia Airlines has announced plans to commence weekly N’Djamena-Kano service on 23-Dec-2019.
  • TUI Airlines Belgium plans to commence weekly Agadir-Toulouse sector with Boeing 737-800 equipment, effective 06-Apr-2020, according to the CAPA Route Changes Database. easyJet also operates on the route, according to OAG.
  • fastjet Zimbabwe commenced 11 times weekly Bulawayo-Johannesburg service on 05-Dec-2019. The airline stated the schedule “will most definitely maximise the productive business time for travellers”.