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

5 March, 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.

Mango ripe for improvements - punctuality and premium economy among its 2020 plans

Mango's returning CEO Nico Bezuidenhout has revealed some of the measures the LCC aims to implement over the first half of 2020, including a big push on punctuality and the introduction of a premium economy offer. The aims to build its average on time performance (OTP) to more than 90% by the end of this month (Mar-2020) having seen it fall to 72% in the past year. Mr Bezuidenhout commented: "If you're not punctual, you're not on the game". Other initiatives will include a 'premium economy' product and new partnerships with reward programmes for frequent flyer benefits to support corporate demand, the introduction of a new reservations system and network realignment that will see new services and a revised schedule.

Air Austral and Air Madagascar partnership 'hanging by a thread' without recapitalisation

Madagascar's Minister for Tourism, Transport and Meteorology Joël Randriamandranto, commenting on reports of a potential split in the strategic partnership between Air Austral and Air Madagascar, reported the partnership is "hanging by a thread". Mr Randriamandranto added that "both parties have failed to meet their respective commitments" and that the government is now processing a new business plan which includes the valorisation of Air Madagascar's shares via the recapitalisation of Air Austral's 49% shareholding. Mr Randriamandranto argued this process is "imperative" to establish new business strategies to "revive" Madagascar's national carrier, including seeking new business partners and renewal and expansion of Air Madagascar's fleet.

Libyan start-up Berniq Airways aims to fly A320s from Benghazi from May-2020

Berniq Airways has announced the opening of its headquarters in Benghazi. According to its official website, the airline aims to commence operations in May-2020, based in Benghazi. The airline intends to serve destinations including Alexandria, Amman, Istanbul and Tunis with a fleet of A320 aircraft. It also aims to offer hotel booking, car rental and lounge services. The carrier's main shareholder is Libya's Bank of Commerce and Development.

IATA reveals 'robust' cargo growth for Africa in 2019

IATA, via its Feb-2020 Africa and Middle East regional briefing, reported FTKs for African airlines grew by a "robust" 7.4% in 2019, up -0.3% year-on-year. Improved performance was driven by "strong capacity growth and investment linkages with Asia", with Africa-Asia routes posting double digit FTK expansion in 2019 (+12.4%). Both Africa and Middle East carriers posted "weaker" freight load factors of 35.5% and 46.5% respectively.

CAPACITY SNAPSHOT: African Domestic Seats (as at 02-Mar-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

  • Kenya Airways plans to appoint Allan Kilavuka as Kenya Airways Group MD and CEO, effective 01-Apr-2020. Mr Kilavuka is currently Jambojet CEO and has held the position of Kenya Airways acting CEO since Dec-2019.
  • Air BP reported it rolled out its Airfield Automation digital technology to nine locations in Africa over 2019. The technology is designed to enhance safety, reliability and compliance in airport fueling operations, and has been "well received by operators in Africa who have reported increased speed and efficiency in fueling" according to the company.
  • China has an increasing influence on the African travel market. Ethiopia's Ministry of Culture and Tourism communications affairs director Endegena Desalegn reported this week that China's tourism contributed USD157 million in revenue from 42,000 tourists in 2019, the country's third largest source of tourists following USA and UK.
  • Comair reported an interim headline loss of ZAR564 million (USD35.7 million) for the six months ended 31-Dec-2019. The majority of this was attributable to an increase in the IFRS 9 reporting standard loss allowance for the company's damages claim against South African Airways (SAA).

CAPACITY SNAPSHOT: African International Seats (as at 02-Mar-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

  • TAAG is expected to receive the first of six De Havilland Canada Dash 8-400 aircraft in late Mar-2020. The second aircraft is expected to be delivered in late Apr-2020, with the remaining aircraft to follow in late 2020. The aircraft are expected to improve the profitability of the airline's domestic and regional operations.
  • Azman Air received one Boeing 737-500 (5N-HFY, MSN 29073), as recorded by the CAPA Fleet Database. The aircraft was previously in service with airBaltic.
  • EgyptAir received one new A320-200neo (SU-GFM, MSN 9532) as recorded by the CAPA Fleet Database. The carrier now operates four A320neos.
  • Allied Air has committed to two Boeing 737-800SF freighter conversions with options for another two aircraft with Aeronautical Engineers. The first aircraft (MSN 36846) will commence modification by Commercial Jet in mid Mar-2020 and will be the first 737-800SF owned by an African airline and the youngest 737-800 converted to date. Allied Air currently operates three 737-400SFs on behalf of DHL and the Central Bank of Nigeria.

CAPACITY SNAPSHOT: Africa - Europe since 2015 (as at 02-Mar-2020)Source: CAPA - Centre for Aviation and OAG

Route Update

  • Air Algerie resumed twice weekly Algiers-Beijing service, effective 01-Mar-2020. The carrier operates the route with A330-200 equipment. It previously suspended the service in Feb-2020 as a precautionary measure against coronavirus.
  • Ethiopian Airlines plans to increase Addis Ababa-Lomé-Houston frequency from three to four times weekly, effective 01-Jun-2020 to 30-Aug-2020, reports Routes Online.
  • TAP Air Portugal plans to launch weekly Porto-Sal service effective 20-Jun-2020.
  • Dana Air has increased Abuja-Uyo, Lagos-Abuja and Lagos-Port Harcourt frequencies. The additional frequencies form part of the carrier's route consolidation and expansion programme, facilitated by the recent acquisition of Boeing 737-300 aircraft.
  • Air France plans to increase Paris CDG-Cape Town frequency from four to five times weekly from 15-Dec-2020 to 06-Jan-2021, as per a 02-Mar-2020 GDS timetable display.
  • SA Airlink plans to commence daily Johannesburg-East London service on 16-Mar-2020. The airline will operate the service with an Embraer E190 configured with six business and 92 economy class seats.
  • Neos plans to launch new routes to Djerba from its Italian bases in summer/autumn 2020. These include Bologna-Monastir-Djerba-Bologna (weekly with 737 from 15-Jun-2020 to 14-Sep-2020); Milan Malpensa-Djerba (weekly with 767 from 25-May-2020 to 05-Oct-2020); and Verona-Djerba (weekly with 737 from 01-Jun-2020 to 28-Sep-2020).