Africa Aviation Trails: Week 7, 2024 highlights

Namibia Economist

Embark on an exhilarating journey into the vibrant realm of African aviation as we unveil the most captivating highlights from week 7 of 2024.


In a riveting report released by Ethiopian Investment Holdings (EIH), a state parastatal entrusted with managing state assets, the performance of over 25 entities under its purview has been nothing short of extraordinary. Among these stellar performers is Ethiopian Airlines, which has soared to phenomenal heights with its half-year profits. The airline group has notched up an impressive 97% of total operating revenues, with international passenger revenues soaring at an astounding 104%, and net profit reaching an impressive 107%. What’s even more remarkable is the Aviation Academy’s outstanding contribution, having proudly graduated 899 trainees from its various basic schools within the first six months alone.

African Aviation Projections And Statistics.

Exciting updates from African Airlines Association (AFRAA) last week revealed a remarkable milestone: African carriers surpassed pre-pandemic passenger traffic levels by November 2023. In fact, January 2024 saw revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs) rose by 2.06% compared to the same month in 2019, with available seat kilometers (ASKs) increasing by 7.1%. But that’s not all! Intra-Africa connectivity, particularly in major airports across the continent, has rebounded to or exceeded pre-COVID levels since December 2022.

When it comes to the fascinating world of air cargo, there’s been quite the journey! Despite a positive trajectory during the peak of the pandemic, recent data from International Air Transport Association (IATA) hints at an intriguing development: the global share of air cargo transported on dedicated freighters is gradually descending from the remarkable heights witnessed in Q4 2021. It’s inching closer and closer to its pre-pandemic level, a development that could spell challenges for dedicated freight carriers on the continent and across the globe.

Despite concerted global efforts aimed at bolstering cargo handling efficiency, the dynamic landscape of Sub-Saharan Africa presents its own set of challenges. In the year 2023, this region encountered significant operational hurdles, as detailed in CargoIQ’s report. Of particular note is South Africa’s striking 27% increase in cargo processing times, serving as a poignant reminder of the broader challenges facing the region.

Air Service Agreements (ASAs) And Airline Agreements

During a working session that took place mid-week in Dubai, the president of Madagascar engaged in discussions with the CEO of the Emirati airline group, exploring the exciting prospect of launching Emirates flights to Madagascar. Meanwhile, across the globe, the Tanzanian government is actively involved in talks with the federation of Russia, aiming to solidify air service agreements that will pave the way for direct airline connectivity between the two nations. Russia currently maintains direct air connections with only six countries in Africa: Algeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Mauritius, Morocco, and Seychelles.

The South African Postal Office has inked a significant contractual agreement with Ethiopian Airlines, aimed at enhancing airmail services connecting Africa and China. This strategic partnership promises to facilitate smoother and more efficient delivery of mail between the two continents, marking a significant step forward in international postal services.

In a dynamic move to bolster the symbiotic relationship between airlines and airports, African Airlines Association (AFRAA) and Terminals Malabo Airport Management (TMAM) have joined forces through a groundbreaking Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). This strategic alliance is dedicated to fostering coordinated synergies, aimed at harmonizing efforts between these pivotal aviation entities to elevate airport and airline operations in Equatorial Guinea and across Africa.

Routes And Airline Connectivity

In exciting news on the global stage, EGYPTAIR is set to triple its Cairo to Heathrow flights starting March 31st, marking a record high for the route. Meanwhile, Nigerian Air Peace Limited plans for direct flights to the USA get a boost with approvals to operate to New York’s JFK Airport, following a request made to the Nigerian Authority on January 12th.

Qantas has announced changes on the Sydney to Johannesburg route. Starting July 8th, the Boeing 787-9 service will maintain its six-weekly flights, dodging an initially planned reduction to four weekly flights in August/September. But hold on, from August 1st to August 12th, there will be an increase to seven weekly flights! And the plot thickens: starting September 30th, the majestic Airbus A380 will swoop in to replace the B787-9, flipping the script from the previous plan set for July 8th.

Kenya Airways has unveiled its latest venture: a bi-weekly freighter service from Mumbai to Nairobi, operated by its newly acquired B737-800 freighter. This expansion comes hot on the heels of its recent launch of weekly cargo operations from Sharjah to Mogadishu.

In a riveting podcast session with Jon Howell ✈ of AviaDev Africa, Kenya Airways’ head of network, Martin Gitonga ✈, revealed the airlines ambitious “Africa first” plan. Aimed at expanding its network, the airline intends to add four new destinations by year’s end, increasing its current 42 destinations to 46. Building on this, Kenya Airways resumed Nairobi to Mogadishu flights last week after a four-year hiatus. Meanwhile, Ethiopian Airlines announced additional daily flights to/from Luanda, Angola, starting March 31st.

Airlink is poised to revolutionize travel with its groundbreaking “bush&beach” service, linking Mbobela’s Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport with Vilanculos, Mozambique’s scenic coastal resort, and Johannesburg. FlyNamibia plans to launch direct flights connecting Windhoek and Victoria Falls this April, as announced by the Airports Company of Zimbabwe (Private) Limited (ACZ). Additionally, Ethiopian Airlines is gearing up to introduce scheduled flights into Maun, the primary gateway to Botswana’s Okavango Delta region, starting from June 10th.

Having restarted operations with the launch of Cape Verde flight schedules after a temporary hiatus, FLY ANGOLA has now made available the domestic route between Luanda and Cabinda in its flight schedule. Meanwhile, South Africa Federal Airlines Pty Ltd, known for its charter and shuttle services, is expanding its reach with a brand-new domestic shuttle service. This service will seamlessly connect Marataba Luxury Lodge in Limpopo province’s Marakele National Park with the stunning landscapes of the Madikwe Game Reserve in North West and O.R. Tambo International Airport.

Tanzania’s AURIC AIR SERVICES LIMITED has announced a schedule shake-up effective June 1, 2024. In a move aimed at enhancing convenience for passengers, particularly tourists, on the Dar es Salaam-Iringa-Ruaha route, Auric Air is splitting the Iringa and Ruaha flights into their own dedicated flight numbers.

Airline Fleets And ACMI’s

Fly Skyward Express, a major player in the Kenyan domestic market, is spreading its wings even further with the acquisition of a second Fokker 100 aircraft. This strategic move not only adds to their fleet but also signals the carrier’s ambitious expansion plans.

Egypt’s Air Cairo is revving up its expansion efforts with ambitious plans to double not only its narrowbody Airbus fleet but also its regional ATR turboprop fleet by 2027. Backed by the Egyptian state, the airline is strategically charting its course for growth and is actively developing a long-term fleet plan, which may involve placing direct orders with aircraft manufacturers.

Regrettably, Congo Airways (CAA) faces a formidable challenge as its entire internal fleet remains grounded. Compounding this issue, one of its aircraft, a De Havilland Canada Dash 8-400, has been deemed irreparable.

Aviation Financing And Infrastructure.

In a remarkable initiative, Africa’s largest airline group, Ethiopian Airlines, is investing a staggering 13 billion birr (equivalent to about $230 million) in advancing the country’s air transport infrastructure. This significant commitment was underscored by the inauguration of the Gode Ugaas Miraad airport terminal, celebrated in a grand ceremony attended by distinguished guests including the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, the President of the Somalia Regional State, and the airline’s CEO. This monumental investment follows a previous $350 million expansion of Addis Ababa Bole International Airport.

Exciting developments emerge from the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and the African Development Bank Group! Together with their partners, they’ve revealed an ambitious plan: the creation of a groundbreaking $26.6 million aviation skills center of excellence. This visionary project aims to nurture a highly skilled workforce capable of meeting both national and international training standards, while also catering to the ever-expanding needs of the aviation sector.

Meanwhile, across the globe, France has pledged its support to Chad’s infrastructure development. With a commitment of 26.5 million EUR in loans, Chad will embark on the refurbishment of Ndjamena airport’s runway.

In other news:

During week 7, FlyNamibia achieved a historic milestone by conducting its first-ever all-female crewed flight on February 13th. Captained by Elsa Martin and assisted by First Officer Lee Rossouw, with Yolanda Gawases as cabin crew, this momentous occasion symbolized a significant triumph for both the airline and the nation. FlyNamibia continues to inspire as it breaks barriers and champions gender equality in the skies!

In a surprising twist, AIR AUSTRAL is preparing to part ways with RUN AVIATION. The acquisition of the passenger charter specialist by AIR AUSTRAL back in late 2018 was met with high hopes of synergies and financial gains for both carriers. However, persistent unprofitability at RUN AVIATION and ongoing issues at AIR AUSTRAL have dimmed the initial optimism.

In a startling turn of events, an internal investigation has unveiled pervasive embezzlement within LINHAS AEREAS DE MOCAMBIQUE “LAM”. Despite resistance against dissolution or privatization, the Mozambican government sought assistance from Flymodernark in South Africa to lead the restructuring of the national airline. However, progress has been hindered by persistent financial misconduct. Recent flight delays, attributed to fuel shortages, have cast doubt, despite Petromoc‘s the state run fuel supplier denial of any shortages, fueling suspicions of unpaid debts by the airline, resulting in fuel denials.

Mahamat AWARE NEISSA, the director general of the civil aviation authority of Chad (ANAC), has abruptly stepped down from his position. His unexpected resignation adds a layer of uncertainty to the leadership of the aviation authority, leaving stakeholders on edge and sparking speculation about the reasons behind his departure.

Somaliland, the self-governing region of Somalia, has recently made a significant decision to withdraw from an 11-year air co-management agreement with Somalia. Originally crafted to establish a collaborative framework for overseeing Somalia’s airspace, with a revenue-sharing model favoring Somaliland with 40% and Somalia with 60%, this agreement has now been terminated by Somaliland due to what they describe as “escalating aggression and misuse” by the Somali government.

In a startling development, several civilian planes parked at Goma International Airport in the DRC were damaged in a surprise armed drone attack overnight on February 16th. The identity of the perpetrators behind this heinous act remains unknown. Adding to the somber news, tragedy struck on Thursday, February 15th, when a passenger tragically passed away mid-flight aboard an Ethiopian Airlines aircraft transporting ministers from the Brazilian government to Ethiopia, as part of the Brazilian president’s tour of Africa.

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