Africa Aviation Trails: Week 5, 2024 highlights


Step into the spotlight as we uncover the captivating highlights that graced the African aviation scene in week 5. Prepare to be enthralled as we journey through the thrilling events of the past week. Dive into the blog article below to discover the excitement that awaits!

Starting with the most exciting news of the week:

Ethiopia’s historic moment unfolded in the week, as its first-ever indigenously assembled aircraft, built in 1935, affectionately named “Tsehay” meaning ‘Sun’ by Emperor Haile Selassie, returned home after decades of being displayed in an Italian museum. This remarkable piece of Ethiopian aviation history, known as Ethiopia 1, embodies the nation’s aviation pioneering spirit. Despite being stolen by the fascist regime in 1936, its triumphant return marks a poignant milestone, celebrating Ethiopia’s resilience, heritage, and unwavering legacy in aviation.

In the wake of cyclone Belal’s havoc, Mauritius’ airspace is once again open for business! Air Mauritius flights have returned to their regular schedules, signalling a swift recovery from the recent disruption.

Exciting news reverberated from East Africa as three carriers emerged among the continent’s youngest fleet for 2023, as reported by ch-aviation. Leading the pack is Uganda Airlines, boasting an average fleet age of just 4.04 years, followed closely by Kenya’s low-cost carrier, Jambojet, with an average age of 5.23 years. Not to be outdone, Air Tanzania made its mark with an impressive average fleet age of 5.84 years. Egypt’s Air Cairo earned a well-deserved fourth spot at 6.53 years, while Reunion’s AIR AUSTRAL rounded out the top five with an average age of 7.14 years. Remarkably, Uganda Airlines continued its wonderful streak, having secured a spot among the world’s top five youngest fleets for 2022.

Last week, South African Airways commemorated a momentous milestone, celebrating an impressive 90 years of flight operations since its establishment on July 24, 1929. While it officially took to the skies on February 1, 1934, the airline has undeniably played a pivotal role in shaping African aviation history. Intriguingly, while SAA proudly holds the title as the oldest airline in Africa by establishment, EgyptAir claims the honor of being the oldest in terms of actual flight operations, taking off a year earlier in 1933.

In a groundbreaking announcement, Somalia’s Aden Adde International Airport made waves by revealing its first Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) facilities in over three decades! With the unveiling of the “Blue Hangar,” the country’s aviation landscape takes a monumental leap forward, ushering in a new era of cutting-edge aircraft inspection and repair capabilities. This long-awaited addition is poised to revolutionize the local aviation industry, bolstering safety standards and propelling Somalia’s air transport sector to unprecedented heights

In a significant turn of events, the Central Bank of Nigeria captured attention earlier this week by releasing an additional $64.44 million in blocked ticket revenue funds for airlines, according to reports from International Air Transport Association (IATA). While this development sparked a sense of hope, challenges remain prevalent. Nigerian commercial banks continue to withhold over $700 million in blocked funds, casting a shadow over the industry’s prospects. The situation is further exacerbated by the devaluation of the Nigerian Naira, which has witnessed a notable decline against the US dollar.

Bilateral Air Service Agreements (BASAs).

In a dynamic series of diplomatic maneuvers, the Malagasy government has sealed a significant air service agreement with the state of Qatar, unlocking its airspace to the world. This bold step sets the stage for Qatar Airways to embark on daily scheduled flights, bridging the gap between the two nations and offering seamless connectivity to the captivating island of Madagascar. Meanwhile, across the continent, Rwanda takes flight with its own strategic partnership, ratifying an air service agreement with the state of Oman. This landmark agreement paves the way for RwandAir Ltd to spread its wings to Muscat, while welcoming Oman Air to explore the vibrant tapestry of Rwanda.

Routes and airline connectivity.

Ethiopian Airlines has set its sights on new frontiers with the unveiling of a groundbreaking route from Addis Ababa to Warsaw, Poland, slated to commence this July. This historic initiative marks a significant milestone, as the airline becomes the first scheduled carrier from Africa to land at Warsaw Chopin Airport, cementing its reputation as a pioneering force in global aviation. But the thrill doesn’t stop there! AIR TANZANIA COMPANY LIMITED adds to the excitement with its own momentous announcement, revealing plans for direct flights to the dazzling metropolis of Dubai in the UAE.

In the realm of intra-African travel, Nigerian Air Peace Limited spreads its wings to the heart of Benin Republic, launching scheduled services to Cotonou—a momentous occasion celebrating the ease of travel between neighboring nations. Meanwhile, excitement fills the air over South Africa as CemAir (Pty)Ltd makes a bold announcement, revealing its upcoming debut in the bustling city of Harare, Zimbabwe, beginning March 21, 2024. The Johannesburg-Harare route stands as one of Africa’s most fiercely contested routes, with five airlines already vying for dominance. With CemAir’s entry, the competition intensifies as the airline becomes the sixth contender on this highly sought-after route.

Moreover, the domestic aviation landscape in South Africa is poised for expansion as FlySafair prepares for an exhilarating inaugural flight on April 2nd. This landmark journey will connect the vibrant city of Cape Town with the picturesque Kruger Mpumalanga Airport in Mbombela. Notably, Kruger Mpumalanga Airport assumed its role as the primary gateway to the renowned Kruger National Park in 2003, succeeding the smaller Nelspruit Airport.

Airline fleets and ACMI’s.

Congo Airways (CAA) is poised to resume operations with the imminent arrival of three new Embraer E190s this February. Following a temporary grounding in 2023 due to maintenance issues, the airline is gearing up to take to the skies once more, promising passengers a revitalized flying experience. In parallel, Kenyan Aircraft Leasing Service (ALS) has welcomed two new aircraft, an ERJ145 and a Dash 8-300, bolstering its operational capabilities. Meanwhile, Air Côte d’Ivoire is expanding its fleet with five new aircraft slated for delivery this year, comprising A319s, A320ceos, and an A330neo, signaling a significant expansion for the airline. Additionally, Air Mauritius has outlined plans to enhance its fleet by adding two Airbus A321s by 2026, underscoring its commitment to fleet modernization and growth.

EGYPTAIR has bid adieu to its entire fleet of Airbus A220-300s, parting ways with these state-of-the-art crossover jets that once adorned the skies. With an average age of three to four years, these aircraft were originally acquired for EgyptAir Express’ regional division. However, they have now embarked on a new chapter, as they find themselves in the hands of the US lessor Azorra.

Infrastructure and financing.

Libya’s Sabha Airport is set to soar to new heights with a whopping $4.5 million grant from the US, earmarked for bolstering airport security and expansion efforts. Meanwhile, the vibrant state of Lagos is abuzz with plans to launch its very own state-owned airline, a project that’s already in advanced stages and eagerly awaits federal government approvals. Meanwhile, ANAC-Gabon has sealed the deal with #EAMAC for a groundbreaking agreement aimed at enhancing staff skills through comprehensive training programs.

In other news, the Ugandan parliament has given the nod to the Civil Aviation Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2024, ushering in a wave of changes aimed at aligning Uganda’s aviation practices with the Convention on International Civil Aviation. Exciting, right? However, in a twist of unfortunate events, the Uganda Professional Pilot Association has sounded the alarm, shedding light on distressing conditions faced by the Ugandan crew. These include gruelling work shifts of up to 17 consecutive days, staffing shortages, limitations on medical insurance coverage and imagine this, the selling of designated in-flight rest crew seats to regular passengers.

air cargo Africa has chosen Nairobi as the ultimate destination for its upcoming edition of the trade fair and conference. Set to take place from February 19th to 21st, 2024, this event promises to be an electrifying gathering of industry leaders, innovators, and enthusiasts from around the globe.

In a surprising twist, Capo Verde Airport operator has made headlines by suspending services to Air Sénégal S.A and Transportes Interilhas de Cabo Verde (TICV), a domestic airline operated by BESTFLY. This bold move comes as a result of unpaid debts by the airlines and their failure to meet airport obligations, despite the airport’s efforts to reach a compromise through counter-offer proposals.

In Comoros, passengers raised eyebrows over an unusual complaint: getting rained on while boarding an Ethiopian Airlines aircraft on the apron at Moroni Prince Said Ibrahim International Airport. The absence of connecting bridges at the airport terminal leaves both arriving and departing passengers exposed to the elements, highlighting a significant infrastructure challenge. Meanwhile, rumours are swirling among French passengers heading to Niamey, Niger, as they encounter unforeseen obstacles. It’s been reported that they now require special authorization from the Nigerien authorities to board flights destined for the country, adding a layer of complexity to their travel plans.

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