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.

This new round-up will deliver some of the key aviation and travel news stories from across Africa.

  • Air Austral maintains profitability despite competition, exchange rates and fuel prices
  • Mauritania Airlines orders two E175s to right-size capacity in its network
  • Emirates opens premium lounge at Cairo Airport
  • Ethiopian Airlines stays silent at Farnborough as it drops plans to acquire regional jets
  • Max Air introduces its first scheduled operations in domestic Nigeria
  • SA Airlink to suspend Pietermaritzburg – Cape Town service in Oct-2018
  • ROUTE UPDATE: latest route launches and announcements
  • DATA SNAPSHOT: African Annual LCC Penetration (2008 – 2018)

Air Austral maintains profitability despite competition, exchange rates and fuel prices
Air Austral recorded a net profit of EUR340,000 in the last financial year ending 31-Mar-2018, marking its fifth consecutive year of profitability. The airline said it maintained profitability despite greater competition and economic conditions, noting rising fuel prices and the volatility of the EUR/USD exchange rate. The carrier said it contained and controlled operating costs and highlighted a 7% year-on-year increase in cargo turnover to EUR40.16 million. The carrier intends to continue to pursue its differentiation strategy and develop its partnership with Air Madagascar.


Mauritania Airlines orders two E175s to right-size capacity in its network
Mauritania Airlines and Embraer announced a firm order of two E175 aircraft for delivery in 2019. The aircraft will be configured with 76 seats in two classes. Mauritania Airlines CEO Mohamed Radhy Bennahi said: “The acquisition of the E175 is part of our fleet modernisation, replacing old aircraft and complementing our young narrowbody aircraft”. According to the CAPA Fleet Database the airline operates a small fleet of six aircraft including a variety of 737 variants and a single ERJ-145.


Emirates opens premium lounge at Cairo Airport
Emirates Airline last week opened a dedicated lounge for first and business class passengers and platinum and gold Skywards members at Cairo International Airport in Egypt. The 880 square metre facility has capacity for up to 152 customers. The carrier invested more than USD3.6 million in the facility, which is its 42nd dedicated lounge worldwide and its first in North Africa. It is located at Departure Terminal 2, Level 2, above the secondary security check & Duty Free area and features a dedicated dining area, showers, a business centre and complimentary WiFi. Emirates currently operates three daily flights links Cairo to its Dubai International hub, all flown using Boeing 777 aircraft.


Ethiopian Airlines stays silent at Farnborough as it drops plans to acquire regional jets
Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Tewolde GebreMariam has revealed the carrier has suspended the evaluation of 100 seat regional aircraft, “since the market size of the selected regional routes is growing faster than we expected”. The airline had been expected to make an announcement on its chosen aircraft supplier this week during the Farnborough Air Show in the United Kingdom. Regarding the airline’s widebody fleet, Mr GebreMariam said it may order Boeing 777 or 787 aircraft and continues to evaluate the A350-1000 and 777X.


Max Air introduces its first scheduled operations in domestic Nigeria
Nigerian carrier Max Air has announced it commenced regular scheduled domestic operations on 12-Jul-2018. The airline operates Abuja – Lagos, Kano – Abuja and Kano – Lagos services with three Boeing 737 aircraft. The carrier’s operations were previously limited to charters, including Hajj and Umrah services. Vice chairman and CEO Alhaji Bashir Mangal said: “In the next two to three weeks, we are going to deploy all our aircraft to go to all the destinations in the country. We are going to operate Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano, Maiduguri, Yola and Sokoto for a start”.


SA Airlink to suspend Pietermaritzburg – Cape Town service in Oct-2018
SA Airlink has outlined plans to suspend its daily Pietermaritzburg – Cape Town service, effective 01-Oct-2018, “in order to stem losses”. The airline stated: “The route has not developed as we expected it would, impacted by the pressures of our economy and the relatively small catchment of the Pietermaritzburg resident market”. The airline commenced the service with Embraer ERJ 135LR equipment on 06-Feb-2017, but said it has not become profitable, despite significant marketing initiatives by the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Commerce to promote the connection.


Route Updates

  • Austrian Airlines will introduce a twice weekly Vienna – Cape Town operation this forthcoming winter schedule.
  • Air Tanzania is scheduled to commence four times weekly Dar Es Salaam – Kilimanjaro – Entebbe service on 26-Aug-2018 and three times weekly Dar Es Salaam-Kigoma-Bujumbura service on 27-Aug-2018. The airline will operate both services with Bombardier Q400 equipment.
  • Cabo Verde Airlines reportedly plans to suspend all operations at Rome Fiumicino, effective 31-Jul-2018, due to a lack of available aircraft, according to the airline’s GSA in Italy, Discover The World. But it has also been reported the carrier has received a Boeing 757 under a long term operational lease agreement to safeguard operations.
  • Lufthansa will change its Frankfurt – Addis Ababa connection to a non-stop service, with a reduced flight time by more than two hours from the start of the winter 2018/2019 schedule.
  • Ryanair plans to launch twice weekly Madrid – Ouarzazate service with Boeing 737-800 equipment, effective 30-Dec-2018 and a twice weekly Dusseldorf Weeze – Essaouira link from 30-Oct-2018.
  • Air Mauritius plans to increase Mauritius – Durban frequency from three to four times weekly, effective 16-Dec-2018 to 12-Jan-2019, according to a GDS display. The airline operates the service with A319 equipment.
  • EgyptAir plans to launch twice weekly Cairo – Bangkok – Hong Kong service with A330-300 equipment, effective 17-Sep-2018. According to OAG, EgyptAir will be the sole carrier on Cairo-Bangkok and the sole direct service on Cairo – Hong Kong.
  • Brussels Airlines plans to commence weekly Brussels – Monastir – Djerba – Brussels service with A319 aircraft from 29-Oct-2018 to 18-Mar-2019. It also operates to Enfidha in Tunisia, according to OAG.
  • Kenya Airways plans to reduce Nairobi – Livingstone – Cape Town frequency from four to three times weekly from 14-Jan-2019 to 29-Mar-2019. The carrier is the sole operator on the route, according to OAG.

DATA SNAPSHOT: African Annual LCC Penetration (2008 – 2018)Source: CAPA – Centre for Aviation and OAG