Over recent years Air Mauritius has been one of the better performing African airlines and this is clear in its ambitions to become a bigger player across the Continent, with hubs key to its development strategy. Today (18-Sep-2018), the archipelago is welcoming senior officials from the aviation sector as in collaboration with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) it hosts its Aviation Day.
- Air Mauritius has been one of the better performing African airlines reporting profits for the past three full reporting periods;
- The airline, in collaboration with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) is hosting a high-profile Aviation Day to discuss pertinent aviation topics;
- Air Mauritius has fully played its role as the national airline of Mauritius, providing air connectivity that has been crucial for the development of the island;
- It believes a strategy based around its own hub and those that it serves across its network will create the conditions for future growth.
IATA’s Aviation Days are held regularly worldwide to arouse attention of stakeholders on the state of the aviation industry and the current issues faced. Aviation experts are invited to talk about identified topics and panellists will then take over for discussions. This event is intended to give a special focus on small island development states and African airlines in general and many high profile executives from in region (Air Botswana, Air Seychelles, RwandAir and South African Airways) and out of region (Air Tahiti and Emirates Airline) will be sharing their expertise.
The agenda includes a presentation from CAPA – Centre for Aviation CEO & director – South Asia, Kapil Kaul, on industry trends, with special emphasis on the aviation ecosystem and challenges for small island states.
Air Mauritius will be in the spotlight during the event and that is good for an emerging African aviation sector. In more than 50 years of existence, Air Mauritius has fully played its role as the national airline of Mauritius, providing air connectivity that has been crucial for the development of the island. It has overcome its own financial issues to now be an established driving force of the Mauritian economy, particularly that of its tourism sector. It is also a leading company of the island providing for around 3,000 Mauritian jobs.
The carrier returned to profitability in 2015/2016 after fluctuating between the black and the red over previous years. Profitability levels rose the following year (2016/2017) and although levels slipped in 2017/2018 it remained a credible result in spite of a tough operating environment. Now, with a modernised fleet that includes two new A350-900XWBs and orders for four more (two in 2019 and two in 2023), plus two A330-900neos due before the end of 2018, it is embarking on transforming Mauritius into a strategic hub.
It’s always a tough time in aviation even in the best years. Whether it is rising fuel prices, volatile exchange rates, competition, Air Mauritius believes a strategy based around its own hub at Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport and those that it serves across its network will create the conditions for growth, improve competitiveness, manage costs and reinforce capabilities of the organisation.
A strong network is an important instrument for this growth and to position Mauritius as a strategic hub between Africa and Asia, two continents which are rapidly expanding. Air Mauritius is already working on improved schedules and enhanced frequencies to allow better connectivity with India, South East Asia, Africa, Europe, Australia and the Indian Ocean and new destinations have recently or are about to be added to its route map, most notably Wuhan in China and Bangkok in Thailand.
The airline says negotiations are ongoing and airlines partnerships are being consolidated. In order to reinforce regional cooperation a collaboration with Kenya Airways has been deepened, the Vanilla Alliance airlines have reaffirmed a commitment to reinforce their collaboration, while consultations are also ongoing with other African airlines including South African Airways, Kenya Airways and RwandAir over the possible formation of the first African alliance.
At the same time, new markets are being explored including Seychelles, South Korea and Comoros where the airline has been working with the Government to establish a new national carrier named Karthala Airways. For a long time the African airline industry has been about lots of talking, but little action. With Air Mauritius showing dynamic signs of change, bringing latest generation widebodies into the Continent and posting record operating revenues (above EUR500 million in 2017/2018 for the first time ever), it will hopefully help to deliver some positive messages on IATA’s Africa Aviation Day.