Advancing Africa – an update on latest travel developments across the Continent

13 February, 2020

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 the Continent.

Uganda Airlines and Uganda Tourism Board sign joint tourism promotion agreement

Uganda Airlines and the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) signed a three year MoU in early Feb-2020 to jointly promote the tourism potential of 'Brand Destination Uganda'. Uganda Airlines will promote the tourism initiative on its online platforms, onboard aircraft and at its sales offices. UTB will represent the airline as "the most convenient way to travel to Uganda". The parties will jointly develop 'Visit Uganda' tour and travel packages for special events and holidays and new tourism products in areas including meetings, conferences and events.

Rwanda and Somalia sign air services agreement

Rwanda's Ministry of Infrastructure announced the signing of an air services agreement with Somalia, under which RwandAir and Somali airlines will operate passenger and cargo services between the countries. The agreement allows for direct services without restrictions on aircraft type or capacity and fifth freedom traffic rights.

South African Airways to suspend almost all domestic services, reduce international operations

South African Airways' (SAA) business rescue practitioners announced last week targeted changes to the airline's network, the deployment of more fuel efficient aircraft, the optimisation of organisational structures and the renegotiation of contracts with suppliers. These include the suspension of all domestic destinations on 29-Feb-2020, except Johannesburg Cape Town which will be flown on a reduced basis. The airline will also suspend international services from Johannesburg to Abidjan (via Accra), Entebbe, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Luanda, Munich, Ndola and Sao Paulo from the same date.

LCC capacity to triple on Egypt-Western European market in 1H2020

In a report entitled: 'Egypt to Western Europe aviation: easyJet leads LCCs back', CAPA - Centre for Aviation stated LCC capacity increased by only 22.5% on the Egypt-Western European market from 2016 to 2019, but is more than tripling in 1H2020. The market registered a 32.4% year-on-year decline in seat capacity in 2016 as a result of geopolitical and safety concerns. easyJet is now returning to its pre-2016 levels of capacity in Egypt, however TUI UK is also growing rapidly. Geopolitical risk is unlikely to disappear entirely from the market, however, the resurgence in LCC capacity and the renewed ambition of a more cautious operator such as Air France are positive signs of confidence in a market with strong growth potential. The number of routes between Egypt and Western Europe will be 94 in summer 2020, up from 80 in 2019, and well above pre-2016 levels. easyJet is also returning to Egypt on a number of routes in winter 2019/2020, including Bristol, Naples, Manchester, Amsterdam, Basel and Venice to Hurghada and Milan Malpensa, and Venice and Berlin Tegel to Marsa Alam.

Tourism is now the largest foreign exchange earner for Rwanda

RwandAir CEO Yvonne Manzi Makolo, speaking at the recent CAPA Qatar Aviation, Aeropolitical and Regulatory Summit in Doha, stated "Rwanda is a good example of [a country in Africa] where the government has really supported the growth of the aviation sector". Ms Makolo reported thanks to government policies, including making free visa on arrival available to all Africans visiting Rwanda, "tourism has become the number one foreign exchange earner for Rwanda" and RwandAir has "seen double digit growth for the past few years". She added: "We've seen the growth of conference tourism as well, Kigali is now number two in Africa in terms of the number of international conferences".

Cabo Verde Airlines operations may be 'negatively' impacted if it cannot secure long term financing

Icelandair Group reported Cabo Verde Airlines' (CVA) operating results for 4Q2019 were below expectations. CVA is seeking long term financing and Icelandair Group stated: "If long term financing will not be secured, it might negatively affect the operation of CVA". Loftleiðir Icelandic plans to lease four or five aircraft to CVA in 2020. Under CVA's business plan, the airline is expected to become profitable in 2021.

Africa likely to lead implementation of commercial drones for cargo delivery

Africa is likely to be one of the first markets worldwide to successfully implement the use of commercial drones for cargo delivery on a wide scale, due to high demand for delivery of relatively small cargo shipments to remote areas and communities throughout the continent, according to SEMIK CEO Sebastian Mikosz. Speaking at the CAPA Qatar Aviation, Aeropolitical & Regulatory Summit in Doha earlier this month, former Kenya Airways and LOT Polish Airlines boss noted it is often too costly and time consuming to deliver cargo to these remote locations by road, making them reliant on air cargo delivery by small aircraft utilising unpaved air strips. He said once the technology exists for electric drones to transport 400kg to 500kg packages across 200km to 300km, "that's going to become really viable" in Africa.

CAPACITY SNAPSHOT: African Domestic Seats (as at 10-Feb-2020)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)

News Briefs

  • Air Namibia appointed chief human resources officer Elia Erastus as acting CEO, effective 11-Feb-2020, following the resignation of interim CEO Xavier Masule. Mr Masule will return to the position of chief commercial officer.
  • Egypt's Minister for Civil Aviation Mohamed Manar Enabah has met with Georgia's Ambassador to Egypt Alexander Nalbandov to discuss ways of enhancing cooperation in the field of civil aviation and the possibility of establishing a direct route between Cairo and Tbilisi to stimulate tourism movement between the countries.
  • Aero Contractors plans to expand its hangar facility to accommodate Boeing 757 or larger aircraft. The company will apply to the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria for the allocation of land for the expansion.
  • Egypt's Civil Aviation Ministry commenced development of the new passenger terminal at Cairo Sphinx International airport. The new terminal will increase capacity to 1.2 million travellers annually.

CAPACITY SNAPSHOT: African International Seats (as at 10-Feb-2020)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)

Aircraft News

  • Reconciliation of Airbus orders and deliveries data for Jan-2020, confirms Air Senegal firmed an order for eight A220-300s, says CAPA. The MoU was originally announced at the Dubai Air Sow 2019.
  • Air Seychelles stated its second A320neo (S7-PTI) is scheduled to be delivered in Mar-2020. The airline received its first A320neo in Aug-2019.
  • Ethiopian Airlines plans to operate three times daily Addis Ababa-Johannesburg service twice daily with Boeing 787-8 and daily with 787-9, effective 29-Mar-2020. The airline currently serves the route with A350-900, 737-800 and 787-8 aircraft.
  • Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority(NCAA) is considering increasing the minimum fleet size for new Nigerian airlines from three to five aircraft. Acting director general Abdullahi Sidi stated that under the proposed change, "those without that capability will be forced to merge or leave the market".
  • FlySafair is "planning further growth and expansion," says head of sales and distribution Kirby Gordon. The carrier will receive another Boeing 737-800 in Feb-2020 and Mr Gordon commented: "We will continue to grow and be bullish in the South African market".
  • Mauritania Airlines completed migration to the Amadeus Altéa Suite on 30-Jan-2020. Implementation was completed in six months. The airline also signed a 10 year distribution and IT agreement with Amadeus, which includes enhanced merchandising and retailing capabilities.

FREIGHT SNAPSHOT: Africa Freight Capacity by Operational Split (as at 10-Feb-2020)Source: CAPA - Centre for Aviation and OAG

Route Update

  • Virgin Atlantic plans to launch daily London Heathrow-Cape Town seasonal service with Boeing 787-9 aircraft, effective 25-Oct-2020. The new route will complement the existing daily service to Johannesburg.
  • Ethiopian Airlines plans to increase Addis Ababa-Stockholm Arlanda-Oslo frequency from six to seven times weekly, effective 24-Jun-2020. The airline operates the service with Boeing 787-8 and 787-9.
  • Air Senegal plans to commence three times weekly Dakar-Geneva service on 18-Jun-2020. The carrier will operate the service with aircraft configured with 16 business class and 149 economy class seats.
  • Sundair has launched a weekly Bremen-Marsa Alam service, operating until mid-Apr-2020.
  • Turkish Airlines launched three times weekly Istanbul-Port Harcourt-Malabo service on 07-Feb-2020, marking the carrier's 319th overall and 60th Africa destination. The service operates with Boeing 737-900.