Africa Aviation Trails: Week 9, 2024 Highlights.

Source: AeroTrail

In the ninth week of 2024, significant developments unfolded across Africa. Niger declared the reopening of its airspace, while ICAO provided insights into the global passenger projections. Additionally, IATA declared 2023 as the safest year in aviation history. Throughout the week, various partnerships and agreements were forged, new airline routes were announced, and some were suspended. Fleet renewals, financing agreements, and infrastructural developments also made headlines. Join us as we delve into the key highlights from Africa in the past week.


Let’s begin with a noteworthy update from Niger: The Republic of Niger has reopened its airspace for all national and international commercial flights, with the exception of flights involving Nigeria. This decision permits unrestricted flight operations from ground level to unlimited altitude, except for routes to or from Nigeria. However, flights passing through Nigerian airspace without landing remain unaffected. It’s important to note that adherence to safety protocols, including the activation of ads-b and/or radar transponders, is mandatory for all flights within Niger’s airspace.

African Aviation Projections And Statistics.

According to International Civil Aviation Organization projections, the first quarter of 2024 anticipates passenger air traffic levels approximately 2% higher than those of 2019, with airlines poised to maintain the operational profitability achieved in 2023. These forecasts offer promise for global aviation development, operational enhancements, and the adoption of cleaner energy sources vital for decarbonization. Therefore, the global community should expedite sustainability efforts, focusing on the production and adoption of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF).

In terms of aviation safety, the year 2023 marked a significant milestone with zero fatal accidents or hull losses for jet aircraft, resulting in a record-low fatality risk rate of 0.03 per million sectors, as reported by International Air Transport Association (IATA). The commercial aviation sector experienced a total of 30 accidents in 2023, a notable decrease from the 42 accidents recorded in 2022. Consequently, the overall accident rate dropped from 1.30 per million sectors in 2022 to 0.80 in 2023. On average, there was one accident for every 880,293 flights, underscoring the industry’s commitment to enhancing safety standards.

In Africa, the IATA report shows a significant improvement in the all accident rate, dropping from 10.88 per million sectors in 2022 to 6.38 in 2023, surpassing the 5-year average of 7.11. Notably, there were no fatalities reported in 2023. Furthermore, 2023 marked the fifth consecutive year of Africa reporting zero fatal turboprop accidents, with the first instance recorded in 2015. As part of the Focus Africa initiative, International Air Transport Association (IATA) introduced the Comprehensive Aviation Safety Improvement Program (CASIP) to bolster aviation safety across the continent. Efforts under CASIP are ongoing, focusing on collaborating with states to enhance the implementation of ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs).

Data from Cirium indicates that Ethiopian Airlines and EGYPTAIR emerge as the dominant carriers in Africa for passengers originating from or destined for the continent. These two airlines significantly lead the African market, being the only carriers with an annual throughput of over ten million passengers. Following closely in third place is South Africa’s Safair (Pty) Ltd , with Royal Air Maroc occupying the fourth position and Air Algérie rounding up the top five. Notably, Ryanair – Europe’s Favourite Airline commands a significant passenger volume in Africa, despite operating solely in Morocco, boasting over 6 million passengers annually.

In CNN Travel‘s latest ranking of the world’s smallest flag carriers—airlines representing a nation with current or past state ownership or government backing—three African airlines stand out among the top ten. These include Air Burkina , which operates with a fleet of three aircraft, TACV Cabo Verde Airlines with two aircraft, and SUDAN AIRWAYS , also flying with a fleet of two aircraft.

Air Service Agreements (Asas) And Airline Agreements.

Angolan and Ethiopian aviation authorities, represented by their respective director generals, recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Luanda, the capital of Angola. This signifies a significant step towards strengthening cooperation in air services between the two nations. In another development, Royal Air Maroc and Visa revealed the first-ever co-branded payment cards on February 28th. This innovative program, developed in collaboration with Attijariwafa bank and Bank of Africa – Groupe Bank of Africa , marks a groundbreaking initiative in Morocco. These cards provide exclusive benefits to Safar Flyer members for both domestic and international transactions.

British Airways (BA) has recently finalized and activated an interline agreement with the South African regional carrier CemAir (Pty)Ltd . This collaboration facilitates expanded access to various destinations in South Africa via CemAir’s gateways in Johannesburg and Cape Town. Through this partnership, travelers gain access to onward connections to exclusive leisure destinations serviced by CemAir, which are highly favored by British travelers.

In the past week,TAAG-Linhas Aereas de Angola solidified its enduring partnership with Network Airline Management (NAM) by renewing its long-term freighter contract. This agreement reaffirms their commitment to continued collaboration in air freight shipment for the foreseeable future. Additionally, MD Helicopters has welcomed Helint of Kenya into its esteemed network of Authorized Service Centers (ASC). This notable partnership marks HELINT as the first ASC in the East Africa region, emphasizing a mutual dedication to providing exceptional services and support to MDH operators in the area.

Air Botswana in the week announced the appointment of APG Network as its General Sales Agent (GSA) for markets beyond Botswana’s borders. Through this dynamic collaboration, APG will serve as Air Botswana’s online GSA in South Africa and offline GSAs in various key regions worldwide. These include Kenya, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, China, and Japan.

Routes And Airline Connectivity.

Air Mauritius announced the reintroduction of its Chennai service, commencing on April 13, 2024, following a four-year hiatus. Chennai will mark the airline’s third destination in India, with flights scheduled once weekly on Saturdays. Utilizing the Airbus A330 aircraft, equipped with 254 seats, passengers can expect a flight duration of approximately 5 hours and 45 minutes, providing convenient connectivity between Mauritius and India. Meanwhile, RwandAir Ltd has made the decision to suspend its flights to Mumbai, India, effective from March 15. Passengers holding tickets beyond this date are advised to contact the airline or their preferred travel agents for refund or rebooking options.

FlyNamibia recently announced the launch of a new route connecting Namibia’s capital with the stunning Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, set to commence on April 4, 2024. This addition promises travelers an unforgettable experience, offering convenient access to one of Africa’s most iconic natural wonders.

Meanwhile, Ethiopian Airlines has reintroduced air connectivity between Dembi Dolo and Addis Ababa, marking a significant milestone in domestic travel. This service, operated twice weekly on Mondays and Wednesdays, using the Dash8-Q400 aircraft, provides a safe and efficient transportation option for the residents of Dembi Dolo. With this development, Ethiopian Airlines expands its domestic network to 18 destination, further enhancing connectivity within Ethiopia.

In a similar vein, AIR TANZANIA COMPANY LIMITED is set to inaugurate a new service from Dar Es Salaam via Zanzibar to Pemba, commencing on March 6, 2024. Operating three times a week, every Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday, this route opens up additional travel opportunities for passengers, strengthening Air Tanzania’s presence in the region and facilitating seamless travel experiences. Meanwhile, Regional Air Services Tanzania has suspended flights to and from Fort Ikoma, Grumeti, Lemai, Sasakwa, and Serengeti South due to seasonal weather conditions and the need for essential maintenance and upgrades on certain airstrips.

Airline Fleets And ACMI’s

Air Peace Limited is gearing up to launch its highly anticipated route connecting Lagos with London on March 30, 2024. To kick off this service, the airline will be utilizing leased Boeing 787-9s provided by Norse Atlantic Airways (Norse), as it awaits the availability of its own aircraft for the route.

TransAfrican Air in Kenya has expanded its fleet with an additional BAe ATP Cargo aircraft, solidifying its position as the leading global operator of this aircraft type. Meanwhile, Air Ghana Ltd. has unveiled a ‘New’ Boeing 737-400F for its Cargo Operations, representing a significant addition to its fleet. As the sole aircraft operating under its banner, this Boeing 737-400F underscores Air Ghana’s commitment to expanding and improving its cargo services.

Sky Mali , a newly established private airline since July 2020, is poised to bolster its operations by introducing three aircraft in the fiscal year 2024. This strategic move aims to enhance the airline’s capacity and efficiency as it serves its growing customer base.

Aviation Financing And Infrastructure.

Ethiopian Airlines Group has successfully completed the renovation and expansion of Terminal 1 at Addis Ababa Bole Airport. Formerly dedicated to domestic flights, the terminal has undergone significant transformations as part of an ambitious project aimed at enhancing the airport’s capacity and efficiency. Additionally, the airport recently inaugurated a state-of-the-art e-commerce hub, the first of its kind in Africa, with a USD 55 million investment. This hub is expected to process 150,000 tonnes of e-commerce goods, mail, and courier services annually. Notably, cargo and logistics services contribute approximately 35% to Ethiopian Airlines Group’s total revenues.

In another development, the government of Botswana in Gaborone has allocated USD 8.8 million for Air Botswana ‘s development amidst ongoing privatization plans, as outlined in the country’s 2024-2025 draft budget estimates. Air Botswana, which has been operating at a loss for years, eagerly anticipates privatization and seeks a strategic partner to improve its operations. Meanwhile, in Tunisia, the government has earmarked 1.5 million euros in 2024 to revitalize airports serving both domestic and international networks, as announced by the Office of Civil Aviation and Airports (OACA).

Aviation Accidents And Incidences

In a concerning incident, a jet transporting Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa was compelled to return to Harare while heading to Victoria Falls due to a bomb threat. Flightradar24 data revealed that the aircraft took off from Harare at 07:23 UTC, heading west for approximately 20 minutes before executing a turnaround over Zimbabwe’s Midlands Province. It safely landed back in the capital around 08:08 UTC.

In a separate aviation incident, an Air Mauritius flight bound for Mauritius from Mumbai, India, faced a dual challenge of an air conditioning system malfunction and an engine issue. This unfortunate event led to discomfort for several infants and an elderly passenger, who experienced breathing difficulties amidst sweltering conditions onboard. While the flight was eventually cancelled, no further incidents occurred.

In other news:

Ghanaian President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo recently announced the renaming of Kumasi and Tamale International Airports to honor prominent individuals. The Kumasi International Airport, currently undergoing renovation and slated for completion in May 2024, will be renamed Nana Agyeman Prempeh I International Airport. Similarly, Tamale Airport will be known as Yakubu Tali International Airport.

In other aviation news, Air Cairo is set to revamp its existing point-to-point base in Hurghada into a comprehensive connecting hub, offering an alternative to Cairo International Airport. Meanwhile, ASKY AIRLINES achieved a remarkable milestone as one of its videos on YouTube surpassed 100 million views within a short span, marking a unique achievement for the airline.

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