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

12 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.

AFRAA: Network development, coordination can solve hub disconnection

African Airlines Association (AFRAA) secretary general Abdérahmane Berthé said 22% of Africans, when travelling, will be required to go through non African hubs in order to go between two African cities. He noted this issue could be solved via network development and coordination. "A successful and viable African aviation industry requires concerted efforts as well as close collaboration among all stakeholders", he stated.

RwandAir CEO describes proposed Qatar Airways partnership as 'a win-win situation'

RwandAir CEO Yvonne Manzi Makolo described Qatar Airways' proposal to acquire a 49% stake in RwandAir as "a win-win situation". Ms Makolo commented: "The African market is untapped... Some areas are really underserved. So for us, partnership with Qatar Airways is a really good idea because it will improve our service offering, building skills and more".

SAA network cuts a concern for South Africa's tourism industry

Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) CEO Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa said the suspension of select services by South African Airways (SAA) "is a concern for everyone in the tourism industry as it simply means less connectivity". TBCSA is in the process of establishing a national air access team to address the connectivity issues. Meanwhile, South Africa's Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan said "absolute clarity" is wanted on South African Airways (SAA) routes. He stated: "We are working hard with the business rescue practitioners to give them whatever support they need, in order to give certainty about where is SAA going to fly" and "where can bookings be actually made", adding this will "enable SAA to attract its old customers back". "Even some of the domestic routes that have currently been cancelled will be reinstated", he said, though "perhaps in a different form".

Durban is seeking new nonstop connections to Asia, Europe and US

Dube TradePort CEO Hamish Erskine stated route development efforts for Durban are focused on securing nonstop connections with China or Singapore, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the US. Tourism KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) acting CEO Phindile Makwakwa commented: "Accessibility is critical in any destination promotion", adding: "Ease of access with our direct airlines makes it more appealing for the trade to promote and market KZN".

CAPACITY SNAPSHOT: African Domestic Seats (as at 09-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

  • African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC) has sourced USD6.7 million in financing from the African Development Bank, to support setting up enforcement officers, furthering its advocacy power and helping airlines with the implementation of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM), among other things.
  • IATA reported the contribution of air transport to Ethiopia's economy. It says air transport and foreign tourists arriving by air support 5.7% of GDP, USD435 million in foreign tourist expenditure, USD6.2 billion in exports and USD18.9 billion in foreign direct investment. In total aviation makes a USD4.15 billion gross value added contribution to the country's GDP.
  • Ghana's Minister of Aviation Joseph Kofi Adda and Trinidad and Tobago's Minister of Public Utilities Robert Le Hunte have signed an air services MoU. The countries intend to "take the next step towards establishing a mutual air services agreement".

CAPACITY SNAPSHOT: African International Seats (as at 09-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

  • Air Seychelles chairperson Jean Weeling-Lee said the addition of the A321XLR to the airline's fleet "would open new avenues for Air Seychelles to tap into." Ms Weeling-Lee adds that currently, the airline's A320neo "cannot take a long route like Perth, which is a potential market".
  • Air Peace has taken delivery of one Embraer ERJ145 (5N-BXG), operating under the Air Peace Hopper brand. It marks the arrival of Air Peace's seventh ERJ145.

CAPACITY SNAPSHOT: Intra-Africa since 2015 (as at 09-Mar-2020)Source: CAPA - Centre for Aviation and OAG

Route Update

  • Royal Air Maroc plans to resume three times weekly Casablanca-Beijing Daxing service, effective 12-Mar-2020, with Boeing 787-9 equipment after previously suspending the service due to the outbreak of coronavirus.
  • Federal Air plans to expand its shuttle service between Nelspruit and Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport from Jul-2020 to align with fastjet Zimbabwe's four times weekly Victoria Falls-Kruger service. Federal Air will also act as a sales agent for the Victoria Falls-Kruger service.
  • TAP Air Portugal plans to launch weekly Porto-Sal service with 144 seat A319 effective 20-Jun-2020. According to OAG, the carrier will be the sole operator on the route.
  • Cabo Verde Airlines suspended Sal-Washington Dulles service from 08-Mar-2020 to 31-May-2020 due to lack of demand related to the coronavirus outbreak. The airline only commenced the service in Dec-2019.
  • easyJet holidays plans to launch twice weekly Tunisia "all inclusive" holiday packages in May-2020 from London Gatwick Airport. According to OAG, Nouvelair Tunisie, TUI Airways and Tunisair also operate the route.
  • Air Senegal plans to operate 25 additional Dakar-Paris CDG frequencies on select dates between 27-Jun-2020 and 06-Sep-2020 for the peak summer season. The airline will operate the additional services with A321 equipment on most dates and A330-900 on 30-Jun-2020, 25-Aug-2020 and 01-Sep-2020.
  • Turkish Airlines reportedly plans to cancel Lagos service on 17/23/29-Mar-2020, Abuja service on 13/16/20/25/27-Mar-2020 and 01-Apr-2020 and Port Harcourt service on 11/13/18/25-Mar-2020, due to the coronavirus outbreak.