Africa Weekly Aviation Trails: Week 11, 2024 Highlights.


In Week 11 of 2024, two regional economic blocs emphasized the urgent need for airspace liberalization, signaling a move towards improved connectivity and economic prosperity. Additionally, ACI World – Airports Council International renowned Airport Service Quality (ASQ) awards for 2023 were unveiled, honoring exceptional airports throughout Africa. Explore these impactful events and more in the detailed article below.


In a whirlwind of developments during Week Eleven, two influential Regional Economic Communities (RECs) raised their voices in unison, advocating for the implementation of open skies policies within their respective blocs. The Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), encompassing 16 member states, made a resounding call to action during the Southern African Industrial Forum in February 2024. Leaders in the aviation sector within SADC highlighted critical hurdles such as burdensome regulations, visa restrictions, exorbitant taxes and fees, and a lack of collaborative efforts hindering the region’s economic advancement.

Simultaneously, the East Africa Community (EAC), consisting of eight partner states, echoed these urgent demands, urging for swift airspace liberalization to drastically reduce air travel costs across East Africa. The EAC’s legislative body emphasized the necessity of a unified airspace accessible to all airlines registered and licensed within the EAC partner states.

The potential benefits of such airspace liberalization are staggering. A recent report by International Air Transport Association (IATA) projects a remarkable 35% decrease in airfares and an additional 5 million Africans embracing air travel if just 12 African economies embrace open skies policies. Moreover, this bold step could generate 155,000 new job opportunities and inject a substantial $1.3 billion into the continent’s GDP.

Implementing comprehensive reforms like harmonizing regulations, adopting open skies policies, fostering PPPs, and establishing a regional visa scheme is crucial for advancing the two RECs and cultivating a vibrant aviation sector in Africa. These measures align with African Civil Aviation Commission AFCAC vision for a prosperous aviation landscape under SAATM.

African Aviation: Projections And Statistics.

The latest United Nations Tourism report highlights a significant shift in international travel trends post-COVID-19 restrictions. Traditional visa applications have notably declined, dropping from 77% in 2008 to 59% in 2018, and further down to 47% in 2023. Conversely, there has been a rise in travel visa exemptions, with 21% of the global population currently not needing some form of visas, up from 17% in 2008 and 20% in 2018. This shift is credited to the introduction of new travel facilitation methods like “Nomadic visas.”

ACI World – Airports Council International has unveiled the prestigious Airport Service Quality (ASQ) awards for 2023, in partnership with Amadeus, recognizing excellence in customer experience across the globe. These awards, derived from ASQ’s reputable Departures and Arrivals Surveys, encompass various categories, including Best Airports by Size and Region, as well as distinctions for Most Dedicated Staff, Easiest Airport Journey, Most Enjoyable Airport, and Cleanest Airport during departures. Among the winners in Africa were:

– Casablanca Mohammed V Airport (Morocco) excels in multiple categories: Most Dedicated Staff, Cleanest Airport, Easiest Airport Journey, and Most Enjoyable Airport for airports with 5 to 15 million passengers per annum (p.a.).

– Marrakech Menara Airport (Morocco) is recognized for ease of travel, Cleanest Airport, and in the 5 to 15 million pax p.a. category.

– Dakar Blaise Diagne Airport (Senegal) is honored for cleanliness, enjoyable airport experience, and among the best airports with 2 to 5 million passengers p.a.

– Moi International Airport (Mombasa), Abeid Amani Karume Airport (Zanzibar), and Ivato International Airport (Madagascar) are acknowledged for their performance in the under 2 million pax p.a. category.

– Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport (Mauritius) is distinguished in the 2 to 5 million pax p.a. category.

– Aéroport de la Réunion Roland Garros (Reunion) is recognized for having the most dedicated staff.

Cirium, a data company recently unveiled the robust flight connectivity between the United States of America and Africa as of March 2024. This snapshot reveals a total of 488 flights and 130,606 seats available between the two regions, operated by just eight airlines offering 23 non-stop and four one-stop routes. Surprisingly, only twelve African airports have direct flights from the United States this month. Delving into the statistics, we find that New York – Cairo leads the pack with 9,640 available seats, closely followed by Atlanta – Johannesburg (9,486), Washington – Addis Ababa (9,267), New York – Casablanca (7,584), and Chicago – Addis Ababa (7,020).

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

In a bid to foster seamless cross-border aircraft transactions, International Civil Aviation Organization and the Aviation Working Group (AWG) have joined forces in a groundbreaking agreement. This collaboration aims to empower States, especially those in developing regions, by offering capacity-building programs. These initiatives will not only enhance safety but also streamline processes, ensuring efficiency in the aviation sector. Through workshops, training sessions, and Implementation Packages (iPacks), the agreement will pave the way for standardized regulations and practices.

In other exciting news, Ethiopian Airlines has forged a strategic partnership with GE Aerospace to equip its Boeing B777X fleets with cutting-edge GE9X Engines. Renowned as a global leader in jet and turbo prop engines, GE Aerospace finalized this monumental deal on March 6, 2024. The agreement entails the supply of 16 GE9X engines, enhancing Ethiopian Airlines’ capabilities for its upcoming fleet of B777X aircraft.

On a different front, FLY ANGOLA has strategically partnered with APG Network to appoint them as its General Service Sales Agent (GSA) in Portugal, signifying a major advancement in sales development initiatives and essential marketing support to bolster Fly Angola’s foothold and activities within the Portuguese market. In a similar vein, Niger-Airlines has selected Kiu Systems Solutions, a renowned global technology provider for airlines, as its strategic ally to usher in an era of enhanced efficiency, innovation, and sustainable growth.

Routes And Airline Connectivity.

Air Arabia Maroc has unveiled an exciting addition to its route network, with a new destination set to connect Tetoun and Amsterdam starting from May 7th. This marks the airline’s fourth route from Morocco to Amsterdam, offering travelers twice-weekly flights every Tuesday and Friday.

In another uplifting development earlier on, AFRIQIYAH AIRWAYS has reestablished vital air connections between Libya and Sudan, commencing operations on March 5, 2024, after a hiatus of nearly a year. The inaugural flight between Tripoli’s Mitiga International Airport and Port Sudan International Airport marked a significant milestone in restoring regional connectivity.

Meanwhile, Airlink has resumed its flights to Richards Bay, starting March 12, 2024, following the reinstatement of fire and rescue approvals at Richards Bay Airport. Flights had been suspended by after the airport was downgraded by the SA Civil Aviation Authority – SACAA.  On a similar note, Eldoret International Airport in Kenya has resumed scheduled cargo flights after an extended hiatus, with Astral Aviation Ltd B767 freighter from Sharjah heralding the return of weekly 40-ton cargo flights from the Middle East and beyond.

Airline Fleets And ACMI’s.

Kenyan Safarilink Aviation is gearing up for an exciting addition to its fleet with the anticipated arrival of a brand new Cessna Grand Caravan EX aircraft, showcasing their commitment to enhancing their aviation offerings. Not far behind, Fly Skyward Express is making waves with the welcoming of its third Fokker 100 aircraft and eagerly awaits the arrival of a Fokker 70 in the near future, signaling their growth and expansion plans.

In a similar vein, Comair-co has boosted its operational capacity by adding a leased Embraer E175 aircraft, showcasing their dedication to providing efficient and reliable services. On another front, LAM – MOZAMBIQUE AIRLINES is poised to launch its inaugural 737-300 cargo operations on March 25th, a significant step forward in their aviation capabilities and logistics solutions.

In an interesting twist, a former South African Airways A340-300 has found a new home in Afghanistan after being withdrawn from service in 2020. This aircraft, part of a fleet of A340-500s and 600s put up for sale by SAA, continues its journey in service, highlighting the dynamic nature of the aviation industry.

Aviation Financing And Infrastructure.

The South African government has made a bold move by terminating a long-standing deal to sell 51% of South African Airways (SAA) to the Takatso Aviation (Pty) (Ltd) consortium after three years of negotiations. This decision was fueled by a new market-related valuation of ZAR6.5 billion rand (USD350 million) for the national carrier, reflecting the dynamic nature of the aviation industry. Outgoing Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan announced this development after mutual discussions between the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) and Takatso led to the agreement that the current transaction lacked a clear path forward.

In a separate development, Spanish Engineering Company INECO has been awarded a contract for the expansion of Morocco’s Mohammed V International Airport, despite its current capacity of 14 million passengers per year being underutilized. The Kingdom of Morocco is proactively preparing for future growth and anticipates increased traffic by the 2040-2050 timeframe, showcasing strategic foresight in aviation infrastructure planning.

Meanwhile, Gabon has taken a significant step in the aviation sector by acquiring a 56% majority stake in the privately-owned Afrijet Business Service, signaling the birth of FlyGabon as the country’s new national carrier. This move reflects Gabon’s commitment to bolstering its aviation industry and enhancing connectivity within the Central African region.

In other news:

In a monumental step towards a greener aviation future, Sasol, a leading South African chemical and energy specialist, has partnered with Danish CO2 reduction technology firm Topsoe to produce Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). This collaboration is a pivotal move in line with ICAO’s vision for a carbon-neutral aviation sector by 2050.

The upcoming Egypt International Airshow 2024, scheduled from 2-5 September at the state-of-the-art El Alamein International Airport, promises to be a game-changer in showcasing Egypt’s prowess in the commercial aviation sector. The event will serve as a platform for fostering partnerships and innovation across the Middle East and Africa, drawing senior representatives from top carriers and aerospace industry players.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has issued a stern warning to private jet owners against the illegal use of their aircraft for commercial operations. Violators of the Permit for Non-Commercial Flight (PNCF) face severe penalties, emphasizing the importance of adhering to aviation regulations.

In a momentous celebration on International Women’s Day, ZAMBIA AIRWAYS CORPORATION LIMITED announced the promotion of its first female Captain, Captain Tiza Mumbi, marking a significant milestone for gender parity in the country’s aviation industry. Additionally, Kenyan Tradewinds Training Services Limited was recognized as the Top Performing Competency-based Training and Assessment (CBTA) center in the Middle East and Africa by International Air Transport Association (IATA), showcasing excellence in aviation training.

Lastly, amidst these developments, an aviation incident in the DRC involving an Let L-410UVP aircraft registration 9S-GPB has brought attention to the challenges posed by adverse weather conditions during landings. Thankfully, no fatalities were reported, highlighting the importance of safety protocols in aviation operations.

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