Africa Weekly Aviation Trails: Week 13, 2024 Highlights.


In a significant development last week (Week 13), an airline marked its return to profitability after seven years, showcasing resilience and strategic recovery efforts. Additionally, the continent’s leading carriers in terms of available seat miles (ASMs) were revealed, highlighting the robustness of Africa’s aviation industry. Moreover, crucial agreements were inked, celebrating new air connectivity and the acquisition of modern fleets, among other noteworthy events. Dive deeper into these pivotal updates in our latest edition of Africa weekly aviation trails below.


Despite enduring a loss after tax of Ksh 23 billion (approximately 174 million USD), marking the eleventh consecutive year of losses, Kenya Airways‘ ongoing resilience and strategic initiatives have led to a significant turnaround. For the year ending December 31, 2023, the airline saw a remarkable shift, recording an operating profit of Ksh 10.5 billion (around 79 million USD). This astounding growth represents a 287% surge compared to the previous year’s operating loss of 5.6 billion, marking a triumphant return to profitability after seven years of challenges.

Moreover, amidst a 37% rise in total operating costs, fueled by a 44% increase in deployed capacity, Kenya Airways navigated through operational challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Notably, direct operating costs surged by 48% in tandem with capacity expansion, offset by a 47.5% reduction in fleet costs due to strategic fleet rationalization. However, overheads experienced a 22% uptick, primarily driven by escalating employee expenses and foreign currency fluctuations affecting the Kenya Shilling against major global currencies, notably the US Dollar.

On a separate note, Madagascar Airlines, formerly Air Madagascar, celebrated a significant milestone with its reinstatement of approval by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). This reinstatement grants the airline access to the Billing and Settlement Plan (BSP) and the IATA Clearing House, enabling the distribution of tickets through travel agencies and tour operators. This development marks a renewed era of growth and visibility for Madagascar Airlines after facing financial and image challenges that led to its exclusion from these platforms in 2016 and 2018.

African Aviation: Projections And Statistics.

Cirium recently unveiled the top 10 airlines of Q1 2024 by region, ranking them based on Available Seat Miles (ASMs), number of flights, and seats offered. This ranking methodology, focusing on ASMs, provides a holistic view of an airline’s capacity by considering both seat numbers and travel distances. Notably, the USA big three— United Airlines, American Airlines, and Delta Air Lines—emerged as global leaders in this assessment.

In Africa, Ethiopian Airlines stood out with the highest ASMs in Q1 2024 at 11,064,295,537 and offered the most seats (6,039,806) compared to other continental carriers. Here’s a closer look at the leading airlines in Africa for Q1 2024 based on ASMs.

Source: CIRIUM Diio

Meanwhile, according to International Air Transport Association (IATA), weather-related operational disruptions are on the rise, directly affecting airline operations. Recent Air Traffic Flow Management (ATFM) delays in Europe exemplify this challenge. ATFM delays occur when specific airspace areas face capacity constraints, leading to aircraft being asked to delay takeoff or adjust flight paths slightly. The data show a notable increase in average weather-related delays from 0.13 minutes per flight in 2011 to 0.54 minutes in 2023, totaling 5.4 million minutes or 90,000 hours of flight delays in 2023 alone. This trend carries cost implications for airlines, passengers, and the environment.

In South Africa, air travel costs have been steadily rising over the past two years, largely attributed to a reduction in the number of airlines and escalating jet fuel prices according to Kirby Gordon. The exit of Comair Limited left a significant gap in domestic seat supply, as the airline held a substantial 35% share of the domestic market. Furthermore, surging fuel prices have added to airline operating costs. Despite these challenges, the industry remains adaptable, with remaining carriers expanding their capacities to meet rising demand.

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

South Africa Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) achieved a significant milestone by signing a memorandum of cooperation with the EASA – European Union Aviation Safety Agency at EASA’s headquarters in Brussels on March 22. The cooperation agreement, sealed by Ms. Poppy Khoza, Director of SACAA, and Mr. Luc Tytgat, Acting Executive Director of EASA, signifies a crucial step towards knowledge-sharing and collaborative efforts in shaping the future of aviation, particularly in addressing the global skills shortage and empowering the next generation of aviation professionals.

In another noteworthy development, Astral Aviation Ltd and Etihad Cargo have expanded their partnership through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), further strengthening cooperation between Abu Dhabi and Nairobi. This initiative builds upon the 2021 Service Level Agreement (SLA) and enhances Etihad Cargo’s presence in the African market.

Additionally, APG Airlines announced the addition of Fly Jambojet as its new interline partner, joining its IET ticketing portfolio. Through APG Connect, a web-based booking tool outside the Global Distribution System (GDS) and Billing and Settlement Plan (BSP) by IATA, travelers can now access Jambojet flights seamlessly under the A1 code, providing enhanced convenience and accessibility for passengers.

Routes And Airline Connectivity.

Air Peace Limited made history as its inaugural flight, operated by a B777-21H(ER), gracefully touched down at London’s Gatwick airport, marking its grand entry into the European continent.

In another exciting development, ITA Airways is set to launch flights to Dakar from July 3, 2024, expanding its reach in Africa with this being their fourth destination on the continent, following Tunis, Accra, and Cairo.

EGYPTAIR is making a comeback in Switzerland with rescheduled services to Zurich starting from July 8, 2024, after a 20-year hiatus, now adding Zurich as their second destination in Switzerland alongside Geneva.

Meanwhile, TAAG-Linhas Aereas de Angola has its sights set on launching Luanda-Bangui flights following the approval of traffic rights by the Central Africa Republic (CAR) ANAC. The airline is also making strategic adjustments, including flight cuts on select domestic and international routes, to navigate through a capacity crunch effectively.

In a nostalgic return, Kenya Airways resumed flights to Eldoret with scheduled 5X weekly flights, reigniting connectivity to this vibrant domestic city after nearly a decade since its last operation on this route in 2014. Additionally, Fly Skyward Express has launched a new 2X daily domestic route from JKIA to Mombasa, enhancing travel options for passengers.

Airline Fleets And ACMI’s.

AIR TANZANIA COMPANY LIMITED has recently welcomed its second Boeing 737-9 Max, marking a strategic move towards expansion and operational efficiency amidst challenges such as pilot shortages. This addition signals the airline’s commitment to enhancing its fleet and services.

In another development, Air Sénégal S.A has introduced its first two of eight ordered Let L-410NGs as part of its fleet renewal program. These aircraft registered OK-NGB (5002) and OK-NGC (5003) are equipped with nineteen passenger seats and will serve both domestic and regional routes, reflecting Air Senegal’s dedication to modernizing its operations.

Meanwhile, Air Cairo is seeking proposals for the wet lease of a narrow-body single-class aircraft capable of carrying around 180 passengers for the upcoming summer 2024 season, showcasing the airline’s readiness for increased demand during peak travel periods.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gomaair Congo has acquired an ATR72 freighter to bolster its operations in a region where road infrastructure is limited. On the other hand, CAMAIR-CO in Cameroon has expanded its fleet with two Embraer E190 and E195 aircraft from Marathon Airlines S.A., adding to its fleet of Brazilian-made Embraer aircraft.

On a different note, the Uganda Police Force has made the decision to sell one of its recently acquired Piaggio Aerospace Avanti P180 aircraft, a 9-seater, registered as 5X-PEF. This move comes as a result of the aircraft’s failure to meet operational expectations, mainly due to the absence of paved runways in numerous parts of Uganda. This unique aircraft, the only one of its kind on the continent, was purchased brand new in 2019 for a sum of USD 7.8 million. Unfortunately, it has been underutilized, with a total flying distance of just 117 kilometers.

Aviation Accidents/Incidences.

A minor fire incident occurred at Kenya’s primary airport, Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Terminal 1E, caused by an electrical fault. This led to the temporary shutdown of the terminal, resulting in flight arrival operations being redirected to Terminal 1A. Fortunately, the incident was quickly contained, and there were no injuries or casualties reported.

Meanwhile, in the skies above Algeria,  a 2000 built Air Algérie Boeing 737-800 (7T-VJK) flying from Oran to Paris (CDG) had to return to Oran midflight due to a cracked cabin window. The aircraft landed safely in Oran approximately 50 minutes after takeoff with no further incidents reported.

In South Sudan, a 1979 built Boeing 727-2Q9(F) operated by SAFE AIR and registered 5Y-IRE experienced a crash landing at Malakal Airstrip. The Boeing 727 impacted an African Express Airways MD-82 that suffered an accident at the same airport in February of this year due to landing short of the runway. Despite the gravity of the situation, there were no casualties.

Additionally, Kenyan airline Renegade Air Fokker 70 aircraft registered as 5Y-MMB encountered a runway excursion at Wilson Airport in Nairobi, overshooting the runway. Fortunately, there were no injuries reported despite the incident.

In other news:

In a groundbreaking move for aviation sustainability, Surf Air Mobility has inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Tanzanian regional carrier AURIC AIR SERVICES LIMITED. This partnership aims to equip 12 of Auric Air’s Cessna Aircraft Company‘s Caravans with Surf Air’s cutting-edge electric powertrains, marking a significant stride in environmental innovation within Africa’s aviation landscape. Surf Air’s success in Africa is evident with similar agreements already in place with Kenyan carriers Safarilink Aviation, Yellow Wings Air Services, and Z.Boskovic Air Charters Ltd. With these collaborations, Surf Air has secured orders to retrofit up to 13% of the Caravan market across the continent, showcasing a commitment to eco-friendly aviation solutions.

On a legal front, Airlink has taken a decisive step by seeking an urgent interdict from the South African High Court. The aim is to prevent South African Airways (SAA) and its personnel from using or disclosing confidential information allegedly obtained unlawfully by a former executive manager. This move underscores the importance of protecting sensitive data within the aviation industry.

In the realm of passenger experience, Ethiopian Airlines has introduced a revolutionary self-bag drop feature. Passengers can now seamlessly manage their luggage using the airline’s app, from self-check-in to payment for baggage. Similarly, Kenya Airports Authority has launched Airport Mtaani, a game-changing luggage collection and coordination service at HKJK (NBO), offering travelers unmatched convenience and efficiency in handling their belongings.

Despite challenges, ECAir – Equatorial Congo Airlines is gearing up for a commercial relaunch in Q2 2024, showcasing resilience and determination in the face of adversity. Meanwhile, Zambian Airlines has appointed Thomas Gabreyohannes Woldesenbet as its new CEO, signaling strategic leadership changes within the company.

On the regulatory front, Madagascar’s Civil Aviation Authority has finalized legislation governing the operation of drones, marking a significant milestone in unmanned aerial vehicle operations within the country.

Lastly, Eswatini Air is celebrating a year of delivering exceptional service to the nation and its people, reflecting a commitment to excellence in aviation service delivery.

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