Africa Aviation Trails: Week 6, 2024 highlights

Out of Africa

In Week 6, a nation proudly celebrated historic post-COVID passenger statistics, serving as a testament to the resilient comeback for the industry. Adding to the intrigue, an iconic vintage plane that starred in an Academy Award-winning film was put up for auction. Meanwhile, fleet renewals occurred, and new passenger and cargo routes were unveiled, among other developments.

Step into the captivating world of African aviation with us as we uncover the most thrilling highlights from the previous week.


In Week 6, Nairobi took center stage as the focal point for enhancing air travel safety across Africa. A multi-organization event, involving stakeholders such as Kenya Airports Authority, Kenya Civil Aviation Authority, ICAO Eastern and Southern African Regional Office, and the Federal Aviation Administration, was held under the theme ‘Enhancing Collaboration in Wildlife Hazard Management at African Airports’. The workshop convened experts and representatives from across the continent with a clear goal of forging a united front against the risks wildlife poses to African airports and devising robust strategies for managing these challenges.

During the same bustling week, Nairobi played host to a pivotal gathering of industry titans at the 7th meeting of the Joint Prioritization Action Plan (JPAP) for the operationalization of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM). Spearheaded by the African Civil Aviation Commission AFCAC, this groundbreaking initiative is geared towards implementing the Yamoussoukro Declaration now Yamoussoukro Decision. Its noble aim? To facilitate seamless air connectivity by granting airlines fifth freedom rights, a bold move set to revolutionize African skies.

African aviation projections and statistics.

Amidst the buzz of the week, International Civil Aviation Organization unveiled a fascinating insight into the aviation world: the resurgence of international routes to pre-COVID levels of traffic, measured in revenue passenger kilometers (RPK). As the data unfolded, it was Africa-Europe air connectivity that stole the spotlight, emerging as a shining example of recovery and resilience. However, amidst the success stories, the air connectivity between Africa and Central America/Caribbean is still struggling to regain its pre-COVID momentum.

International Air Transport Association (IATA) predicts a modest rebound for African carriers in 2024. However, this anticipated resurgence comes with its fair share of challenges. The African aviation market continues to grapple with infrastructural limitations and connectivity hurdles, making operations challenging. Despite these obstacles, the industry remains resilient, poised to navigate through adversity and soar to new heights.

In a remarkable testament to the resilience of the aviation industry post-COVID-19, Zambia’s aviation sector made headlines last week with a historic milestone. Reports surfaced of a record-breaking surge in passenger numbers for the year 2023, totaling an impressive 2,056,312 individuals. This figure not only marks the highest count since 1989 but also signifies a remarkable 24% increase from the previous year.

Air Service Agreements (ASAs) and Airline Agreements.

In a captivating development, Zambia embarked on a quest to forge direct links with the People’s Republic of China, aiming to fortify trade and tourism bonds. With enthusiasm bubbling on both ends, stakeholders from both nations voiced optimism about the prospects of establishing direct flights between the bustling hubs of Lusaka and Shenzhen. This bold move holds the promise of not only enhancing connectivity but also fostering deeper cultural exchange and economic prosperity.

Kenya Airways (KQ) and Air Europa have joined forces, signing a codeshare agreement. This collaboration opens up a world of possibilities, granting Air Europa passengers seamless access to Kenya Airways‘ diverse array of African destinations, while also offering KQ guests the chance to spread their wings to Air Europa’s European and American hubs. But the excitement doesn’t end there! AIR TANZANIA COMPANY LIMITED and Proflight Zambia have also made waves, sealing an interline agreement aimed at revolutionizing travel options for passengers of both airlines. With cost-effective and flexible solutions on the horizon, travelers are in for a treat as they embark on journeys filled with convenience and connectivity.

Routes and airline connectivity.

After a 13-year hiatus, Hainan Airlines triumphantly returned to Cairo, Egypt, marking a significant milestone in their African endeavors. This bold move harkens back to their initial foray into the African market in 2010, when they launched Beijing-Cairo flights. However, their aspirations were abruptly curtailed just four months later due to the tumultuous Egyptian uprising and political instability, culminating in the fall of President Hosni Mubarak.

Air Mauritius is spreading its wings across Europe, expanding its network to four destinations with the launch of twice-weekly direct flights to Rome, Italy. This milestone comes hot on the heels of successful routes to Geneva, Paris, and London. Meanwhile, Ethiopian Airlines is gearing up to increase its Addis-Canada route frequency to daily flights starting this April. But that’s not all – the airline is also making waves in China, inaugurating its 10th Cargo route in China between Addis Ababa and Ezhou-Huahu in Hubei province. This strategic move is part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) air connectivity, positioning Ezhou Cargo Airport as a major player in the global cargo landscape.

In the same spirit, Kenya Airways Cargo has broadened its horizons to encompass a new cargo route connecting Sharjah in the UAE to Mogadishu in Somalia. This strategic addition to their network, which officially took flight on February 9th, is set to operate once weekly.

In a thrilling development for intra-Africa travel, Ethiopian Airlines extends its reach to Freetown, Sierra Leone, marking yet another milestone in its impressive expansion journey. This exciting addition expands the carrier’s footprint to a total of 11 countries served in west Africa. Meanwhile, the skies over South Africa are abuzz with anticipation as CemAir (Pty)Ltd unveils plans for a dynamic new domestic service. Set to debut on April 8, 2024, this innovative route will link East London and Johannesburg, opening up exciting travel opportunities for passengers across the region.

Airline fleets and ACMI’s.

In a nod to progress, Nigerian Dana Air welcomed its very first Dash 8-400 aircraft, while Rano Air Limited celebrated the arrival of its fifth and final Embraer ERJ145. As these airlines expand their fleets, another chapter unfolds: Air Sénégal S.A decision to part ways with its two ATR72-600 aircrafts. These aircrafts, boasting manufacturers Serial Numbers (MSN) 1447 and 1452, were introduced in 2018, adding a touch of history to their six-year journey.

In a parallel tale of evolution, Ibom Air is poised for a transformation, aiming to replace its current wet-leased A320s with the sleek A220. The first A220 was proudly delivered in November 2023, a testament to the collaborative efforts of the carrier, Zenith Bank Plc, and Airbus. With the ink still fresh on the aircraft financing deal, the future looks bright for Ibom Air as they soar into new horizons.

Visa’s and free movement of peoples.

The Malawian government has made a bold move to welcome the world. By lifting entry visa requirements for citizens of 79 countries, Malawi has transformed itself into an even more enticing destination for global travelers. This groundbreaking decision not only aims to streamline the process for visitors but also signals a firm commitment to bolstering tourism and showcasing the country’s rich cultural and natural treasures.

In other news:

The legendary 1929 De Havilland Gipsy Moth biplane, immortalized in the Academy Award-winning film “Out of Africa,” is poised to go under the hammer for charity this March. This iconic American-made aircraft, still in impeccable working condition, captured hearts with its unforgettable role in the 1985 masterpiece, soaring gracefully over the breathtaking Kenyan savannah. Now, aviation enthusiasts and movie buffs alike have the chance to own a piece of movie magic while supporting a noble cause.

South Africa Wonderboom National Airport is gearing up to host an electrifying event from July 3rd to 5th, 2024. But hold on tight – this isn’t your typical air show! Instead, it’s a dynamic business-to-business trade show that promises to be a game-changer for industry professionals and enthusiasts alike. Amidst the buzzing atmosphere, attendees will have the chance to explore a wide array of cutting-edge products, innovations, and networking opportunities.

Air Algérie has a new CEO by the name Hamza Benhamouda who has been appointed following the departure of Yacine Benslimane, who was appointed CEO on June 18,2022. The new CEO is poised to spearhead growth and expansion of the airline.

Kenya Airports Authority is embracing innovation with the introduction of a cutting-edge cashless payment system in its airports. Say goodbye to the hassle of fumbling for cash – passengers can now enjoy seamless transactions, all with the swipe of a card or a tap on their phone. But it doesn’t stop there! This innovative system not only streamlines the passenger experience but also offers better revenue tracking and collection for the authority.

In a twist of fate, Comoros Int Air IIes finds itself grounded as legal disputes with the owner of its sole Let 410 aircraft force the airline to suspend flight operations. But that’s not all – whispers in the rumor mills suggest that South African Airways is facing its own uphill battle. With a shortage of skilled personnel and complex post-rescue expansion plans, the airline’s efforts to soar back to its former glory are hitting turbulence.

Finally, a 1984 built MD-82 aircraft, registered in Kenya and operated by African Express Airways, suffered major damages as its landing gears collapsed upon touchdown at Malakal Airport (HJMK), South Sudan. Despite the hair-raising ordeal, no injuries were reported among passengers or crew.

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