Africa Weekly Aviation Trails: Week 12, 2024 Highlights.

Business Insider Africa/AeroTrail

In Week 12 of 2024, AfCFTA statistics showed concerning trends in intra-Africa trade, while Tanzania achieved a new aviation milestone. Important agreements and partnerships were also formed during this time, signaling progress and collaboration across industries. Explore these key events of the preceding week in the detailed article below.


African Airlines Association (AFRAA), African Civil Aviation Commission AFCAC, and the African Union Commission (AUC) orchestrated an enlightening three-day workshop on the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) in Nairobi from March 18-20, 2024, hosted at the East Africa School of Aviation (EASA) by the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA). This pivotal workshop delved into SAATM’s regulatory framework, covering essential aspects such as the executing agency’s powers and functions, consumer protection, competition regulations, the Dispute Settlement Mechanism (DSM), and the revised African Civil Aviation Policy (AFCAP). It aimed to raise awareness and provide a comprehensive understanding of SAATM’s regulatory instruments to airlines. Read more here.

Meanwhile, in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, the 11th meeting of Agency for Aerial Navigation Safety in Africa and Madagascar (ASECNA) commenced, focusing on the coordination of the FIR of Brazzaville. ASECNA, a vital air traffic control agency headquartered in Dakar, Senegal, oversees a vast airspace spanning 16.1 million square kilometers, encompassing six flight information regions (FIR) – a space 1.5 times larger than Europe. Discussions at the meeting revolved around airspace utilization, route planning, weather updates, NOTAMs, and other pertinent factors impacting air traffic operations in the region, showcasing the agency’s strategic role in ensuring aviation safety and efficiency.

Shifting gears to the United Republic of Tanzania, the country’s aviation sector achieved a significant milestone with Airplane Africa Limited (AAL) successfully assembling three Skyleader aircraft capable of accommodating two to four persons each at the Morogoro Regional Airport plant. This achievement, realized in collaboration with the government at the Morogoro facility inaugurated in 2021, marks Tanzania’s inaugural venture into indigenous aircraft assembly, highlighting the nation’s growing capabilities in the aviation industry.

African Aviation: Projections And Statistics.

According to the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat, Africa’s trade patterns reveal a significant emphasis on commerce with regions outside the continent rather than within. The data shows that Africa engages in more trade with economies beyond its borders than within, with only 10% of its imports and 17% of its exports being intraregional. In comparison, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) records 21% of imports and 22% of exports as intraregional, while Latin America sees intraregional trade accounting for 19% of imports and 20% of exports. These statistics underscore the potential for increased intracontinental trade and highlight the opportunities for fostering stronger economic integration within Africa.

On another front, the aviation industry’s landscape reveals a notable disparity in the age of aircraft between cargo and passenger operations. Data from International Air Transport Association (IATA) indicates that the average age of cargo aircraft is 25 years, significantly higher than the average age of passenger aircraft, which stands at 13 years. Despite this stark contrast, cargo aircraft represent a relatively small fraction, approximately 12.5%, of the global in-service fleet encompassing both passenger and cargo planes. The extended lifespan of cargo aircraft leads to a slower pace of fleet replacement compared to passenger fleets, posing challenges for decarbonization efforts as older aircraft tend to generate higher carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions per Revenue Tonne Kilometer (RTK) due to reduced fuel efficiency. While air cargo contributes about 15% of commercial aviation CO2 emissions, it remains imperative for air cargo operators to actively participate in the industry’s decarbonization initiatives to mitigate environmental impacts.

Moving to airline websites, statistics from OAG indicate alarmingly high cart abandonment rates compared to other travel and e-commerce platforms. This raises intriguing questions about whether frustrations with hidden costs related to unbundling practices or the perceived high purchase value prompt travelers to reconsider their choices. Additionally, the challenge of finding comparable offers despite numerous metasearch and comparison sites adds another layer to the complexity of consumer behavior in the aviation industry.

Air Service Agreements (ASA’s) And Airline Agreements.

The recent air service agreement between Togo and Austria has opened up exciting possibilities for direct flights between Vienna and Lomé. Signed by Togolese Transport Minister Affoh ATCHA DEDJI and Austrian Ambassador Thomas Schlesinger, this agreement means that travelers can now enjoy direct routes operated by Austrian Airlines, ASKY AIRLINES, and Ethiopian Airlines, connecting these two vibrant destinations seamlessly.

In another strategic move, Kenya Airways and Virgin Atlantic have entered into a new bilateral codeshare partnership, enhancing their existing collaborations and loyalty agreements. This partnership allows Virgin Atlantic to place its code on Kenya Airways’ London flights, granting passengers effortless access to Kenya Airways‘ extensive African and global network, and vice versa, enhancing connectivity and convenience for travelers.

Meanwhile, EGYPTAIR has embarked on discussions with Somali Civil Aviation Authority officials for potential direct flights between Cairo and Mogadishu. The recent meeting between delegates from Egyptair and Somali aviation authorities marks the beginning of promising discussions aimed at establishing direct air links between the two countries, fostering closer ties and facilitating travel between Egypt and Somalia.

Additionally, AIR TANZANIA COMPANY LIMITED has forged a significant partnership with De Havilland Aircraft of Canada Limited, enhancing Q400 component support. Through participation in De Havilland Canada’s component solutions program (DCS Program), Air Tanzania gains access to comprehensive maintenance, repair, and overhaul services for aircraft components, alongside a strategically positioned spare part exchange pool, ensuring optimal operational efficiency and reliability for the airline’s fleet.

Routes And Airline Connectivity.

Royal Air Maroc is spreading its wings with the launch of three exciting new routes from Casablanca starting June 22nd, 2024. Among these routes are two intercontinental connections, linking Manchester in the UK and Naples in France, showcasing the airline’s global reach. Additionally, Royal Air Maroc is introducing an intra-Africa route to Abuja, Nigeria, marking a strategic expansion into the West African market and adding to its existing presence in Lagos.

Meanwhile, LAM – MOZAMBIQUE AIRLINES is gearing up for a major network expansion, targeting intercontinental routes to Dubai, UAE, and Guangzhou, China, slated for launch by July 2024. This ambitious move underscores LAM Mozambique’s commitment to enhancing connectivity between Mozambique and key global destinations, offering travelers more options and convenience.

In another exciting development, Airlink is resuming flights to Madagascar’s vibrant tourist hub with a new direct service between Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport and Fascene Airport (NOS) on the captivating island of Nosy Be. This move reflects Airlink’s focus on catering to leisure travelers and supporting Madagascar’s tourism industry.

Not to be outdone, Air Tanzania has made waves with its B767 freighter, a first-of-its-kind for an African operator, making its inaugural flight to Eldoret International Airport in western Kenya, showcasing the airline’s commitment to efficient cargo operations. Additionally, Air Botswana is unveiling new routes connecting Maun to Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Windhoek, further enhancing regional connectivity and accessibility for travelers across southern Africa.

Airline Fleets And ACMI’s.

Guinea is on the brink of welcoming United Aviation Service, a subsidiary of United Mining Supply (UMS), following the carrier’s acquisition of its aircraft operator certification (AOC). Prior to this milestone, UMS had been operating its aviation fleet under the designation “Accreditation Compagnie Aérienne” for transport on request No. 5656. This accreditation empowered the company to undertake a diverse range of missions, including VIP travel, medical evacuations, geodetic surveys, air cargo services, and more within Guinea’s territory and across the sub-region.

Meanwhile, Air Express Algeria, specializing in oil and gas industry charters since its inception in 2002, has added a Beechcraft 1900 to its fleet, enhancing its capabilities in serving the energy sector. On a different note, Cabo Verde’s BESTFLY airline faced connectivity challenges as its sole remaining ATR72-600 was ferried to Toulose Francazal for scheduled maintenance, leaving the airline temporarily impacted but poised for a robust return to operations according to the airline CEO Nuno Pereira and confirmed by lessor ACIA Aero Leasing.

Aviation Financing And Infrastructure.

The CEO of Ethiopia Airline Group has unveiled ambitious plans to construct five new local airports in Mezan Tepi, Yabelo, Gore, Mettu, and Debre Markos, with four of them expected to become operational within a year. This strategic expansion initiative is driven by the increasing demands of domestic customers and is aimed at significantly enhancing the country’s connectivity and accessibility. Meanwhile, the government of Senegal has successfully secured a substantial funding of 300 million euros for the expansion project of Aéroport International Blaise Diagne SA.

Not to be outdone, Quadrante Group, a prominent Portuguese engineering and consulting firm, is set to make its mark in Gabon with plans for a cutting-edge new terminal at Libreville’s International airport, promising a modern and efficient travel experience for passengers. On the privatization front, Equatorial Guinea is revisiting its strategy, contemplating a potential partnership with Ethiopian Airlines to infuse new vitality into its frailing state-owned airline Ceiba Intercontinental.

In another exciting development, Ethiopia is exploring the refurbishment of interiors for ten of its Boeing 787 Dreamliner’s, signaling a commitment to delivering exceptional comfort and service to passengers. These initiatives underscore Africa’s dynamic aviation sector, poised for growth and innovation in the coming years.

In other news:

SkyTeam, with Kenya Airwaysas its sole African member, has clinched the title of “Alliance of the Year” for the second consecutive year at the prestigious Air Transport Awards 2024. This remarkable achievement underscores SkyTeam’s relentless commitment to enhancing customer experiences, embracing cutting-edge digital innovations, and leading sustainability initiatives within the aviation industry, setting a benchmark for excellence and innovation.

In another aviation feat, South Africa’s LIFT proudly played a crucial role in a daring rescue operation of a missing hiker at the picturesque Helderberg Nature Reserve in the Western Cape. The rescue involved airlifting an 11-year-old German Shorthaired Pointer dog named Sage, showcasing LIFT ‘s dedication to community service and safety. Meanwhile, Airlink soared to new heights as it celebrated a significant milestone, surpassing 100,000 members and solidifying its position as a premier airline in the region.

The Kenya Space Expo and Conference 2024, set to take place from June 18-20, is poised to be a groundbreaking event that delves into the transformative potential of space science, technology, and applications. This expo by Kenya Space Agency aims to showcase how these advancements can significantly enhance the quality of life and spur socio-economic development not just in Kenya but also across the broader region. On another front, Uganda is gearing up to host its inaugural East African Airshow from December 5-7, 2024. This airshow promises to unveil East Africa’s cutting-edge aviation technology, futuristic designs, and groundbreaking concepts, positioning the region’s aviation sector on a global platform for innovation and excellence.

Turning to aviation regulatory achievements, Namibia has achieved an impressive 72.31% compliance rating in the International Civil Aviation Organization‘s Universal Safety Oversight Audit Program – Continuous Monitoring Approach (USOAP-CMA), showcasing the nation’s commitment to ensuring robust safety standards in aviation operations.

In a significant legal development, a court in Douala, Cameroon, has rendered a verdict ordering Boeing and Pratt & Whitney companies to pay a substantial sum of 254 million USD in compensation for the tragic 1984 incident involving Cameroon Airlines’ B737-200 aircraft registered as TJ-CBD. The incident occurred when the aircraft experienced an engine explosion during taxiing at Douala International Airport before its intended departure for Yaoundé, Cameroon. This catastrophic event resulted in a fire originating from the damaged fuel tank, which engulfed the aircraft and tragically claimed the lives of two passengers onboard. However, due to swift evacuation procedures, 107 passengers and seven crew members were safely evacuated. This incident underscores the critical importance of accountability and safety standards within the aviation industry.

In a tragic aviation incident, a 1998 Antonov An-26 cargo plane operated by the South Sudanese air force crashed during landing at Yida Airstrip in South Sudan. Of the seven occupants onboard, three individuals sustained minor injuries. According to a statement from a Ruweng Administrative Area official, the accident may have been influenced by foggy or hazy weather conditions. Visual evidence from photos and videos taken after the crash shows that the left-hand main gear had collapsed, leading to a fire outbreak in the vicinity of the left-hand wing. The fire rapidly consumed the aircraft, resulting in a devastating scene.

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