Africa Weekly Aviation Trails: Week 14, 2024 Highlights.


Exciting developments emerged in week 14, with projections indicating that passenger traffic by African carriers is set to soar to 98 million for the year 2024. Additionally, South Sudan is poised to achieve a significant milestone as it prepares to assume complete control of its airspace from Khartoum, Sudan. However, amidst these positive strides, the Kenyan government’s firm decision against airspace liberalization dealt a substantial blow to the Single Africa Air Transport Market (SAATM) initiative. Amidst these headlines, an airline marked a decade of exemplary service, adding to the vibrant tapestry of news shaping the aviation landscape. Delve deeper into these compelling narratives and more as we explore the latest happenings in the aviation sector.


In a recent turn of events, the Kenyan government has made a decisive move regarding the liberalization of its airspace, signaling a staunch stance against pressure to open up Kenyan skies to foreign carriers dealing a big blow to SAATM. Despite mounting pressure, both domestically and internationally, for Kenya to grant access to various airports within the country, particularly in Mombasa, to bolster tourism and enhance connectivity, the Cabinet Secretary of Transport has affirmed Kenya’s commitment to protecting its local industry. Furthermore, considerations such as the lack of reciprocity by other countries for national carrier Kenya Airways to operate on some of their domestic routes have also factored into this decision. This move comes as a setback for continental initiatives like the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which aim to promote liberalization across the African continent.

Meanwhile, in an unfolding narrative, the Juba Flight Information Region (FIR) is on the brink of being inaugurated as South Sudan edges closer to assuming control of its airspace from Khartoum. The issuance of South Sudan’s inaugural Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP) manual on 17 June 2021 marks a significant step towards reclaiming management of its airspace from neighboring Sudan. With the completion of its air traffic management system (ATMS), supported by China, Juba is now in the final stages of formalizing procedures to assert full sovereignty over its skies. This development underscores South Sudan’s determination to assert its independence and optimize the management of its airspace for the benefit of its citizens and aviation stakeholders alike.

African Aviation: Projections And Statistics.

According to the African Airlines Association (AFRAA), the projected passenger traffic carried by African operators in 2024 is estimated to reach approximately 98 million. The capacity will be divided between African and non-African operators, with a close split of 50.7% and 49.3%, respectively. Notably, there has been a significant increase in the number of seats offered in the region, soaring by 12.6% from March 2019 to March 2024, reaching a total of 16.1 million seats. Available Seat Kilometers (ASKs) also surpassed the levels of March 2019 by 7.7%. African carriers accounted for 49.5% of international capacity and 35.9% of intercontinental capacity. The estimated revenues for January 2024 amounted to US$1.83 billion, indicating a remarkable revenue growth of 14.75% compared to November 2023.

Turning to the air freight sector, February 2024 witnessed a robust double-digit growth in air cargo, measured in Cargo Tonne-Kilometers (CTKs), surging by 11.9%. This marks the third consecutive month of significant year-over-year (YOY) demand growth, outpacing the modest 0.9% expansion in cross-border trade. The increased capacity, measured in Available Cargo Tonne-Kilometers (ACTKs), rose by 13.4% compared to February 2023 (16% for international operations), primarily attributed to the surge in international belly capacity accompanying the growth in passenger markets. However, the capacity on freighters saw a modest increase of 3.2% year-on-year. Notably, Africa’s global share of cargo capacity witnessed a 22% year-on-year demand growth, with CTKs accounting for 22% and ACTKs for 28.2%.

In the realm of airspace, Africa’s participation in the space industry is projected to reach USD 22.64 billion by 2026, indicating a notable growth of 16.16% from 2021. The proliferation of over 270 new Space technologies and services across various sectors underscores Africa’s potential for significant achievements and opportunities in space endeavors, thereby enhancing national economies and fostering innovation, industries, and sustainability across the continent.

On the aircraft front, Airbus has delivered 142 aircraft in the first quarter of 2024, marking a 12% increase from the same period last year, according to industry sources. Although this tally restored deliveries to the same level seen in the first quarter of 2022, it fell short of the planemaker’s initial expectations for the quarter. Airbus aims for at least 800 deliveries for 2024. However, the demand for aircraft remains at an all-time high, with airlines facing a shortage of narrow-body aircraft due to Boeing‘s recent crisis with the B737 Max. As a result, airlines are paying a premium for used aircraft, driving the cost of used jet rentals to the highest level in years. Boeing has slowed down production of its best-selling model to address quality lapses, while Airbus is struggling to lift output, leaving available planes scarce in the market.

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

Kenya Airways is currently in talks with various airlines to forge a strategic equity partnership, aiming to secure a substantial capital injection ranging from USD 1 billion to USD 1.5 billion. Allan Kilavuka, the CEO, envisions this partnership as a means to rejuvenate the national carrier by eradicating its negative equity, settling outstanding loans, and fostering future growth prospects.

In another aviation development, Red Sea Airlines, a dynamic newcomer to Egypt’s aviation landscape, has made significant strides by joining the prestigious ranks of International Air Transport Association (IATA) airline membership. Launched in September 2022, Red Sea Airlines primarily operates non-scheduled passenger services within Egypt and across the region. With its newfound IATA membership, the airline gains access to pivotal platforms such as the Billing and Settlement Plan (BSP) and the IATA Clearing House. These affiliations empower Red Sea Airlines to distribute tickets through an extensive network of travel agencies and tour operators, while also elevating its international standing and advocacy efforts within the aviation industry.

Routes and Airline Connectivity.

Air Cairo is spreading its wings with the resumption of flights to Jordan and the introduction of a new service to Armenia, promising travelers more options for their next adventure. Meanwhile, AIR TANZANIA COMPANY LIMITED has finally realized its Dubai dreams, deploying its sleek 737 MAX 9 aircraft for the inaugural flight.

Over in Namibia, FlyNamibia has unveiled exciting new routes to the awe-inspiring Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, with flights operated by the reliable Embraer ERJ145. The addition of this service, operating three times a week, not only boosts capacity but also strengthens intra-Africa connectivity, opening up new horizons for travelers.

Eswatini Air has made its mark by inaugurating the Mbabane to Zimbabwe route, offering travelers convenient access to this vibrant destination. Meanwhile, Kenya Airways is set to elevate connectivity by introducing daily flights to Moroni starting from April 1st, 2024, providing seamless travel options for discerning passengers. On another front, Ethiopian Airlines is ramping up its presence with daily flights on the Addis-Luanda route, facilitating smoother journeys for travelers between these bustling hubs.

Amidst these exciting developments, Azman Air Services Limited has made a triumphant return to the skies, resuming its domestic commercial flights after a hiatus of ten months. This comeback follows a temporary suspension in June 2023, driven by a shortage of planes necessitating maintenance. Now, with its fleet revitalized, Azman Air is ready to soar once again, offering passengers reliable and comfortable travel experiences within Nigeria and beyond.

Airline Fleets and ACMI’s.

Kenya Airways is making waves in the aviation industry with the addition of a second Boeing 737-800F, converted from a passenger aircraft by Aeronautical Engineering Inc., to its fleet. This 23-year-old aircraft brings enhanced cargo capacity, reflecting the airline dedication to efficient logistics and seamless cargo transportation services.

In another exciting development, Air Zimbabwe Private Limited has placed a significant order for 10 A220s and 4 B787s, with deliveries slated for the second quarter of 2025, precisely on April 1st. The A220s will cater to regional flights, while the B787s will predominantly serve long-haul routes, including prestigious destinations like London Heathrow (LHR), underlining the airline commitment to expanding its route network and offering exceptional travel experiences.

Meanwhile, Egypt’s Sky Vision Airlines celebrated the arrival of its first cargo plane, an A320P2F, signaling its entry into the cargo transport sector with modern and efficient aircraft. Additionally, Air Arabic Maroc has entered into an ACMI lease agreement with Canada Jetlines for two Airbus A320 aircraft, showcasing their strategic partnerships to enhance operational capabilities.

Air Algérie is bolstering its fleet with the leasing of three Airbus A330-200 aircraft to boost summertime capacity on routes to the Middle East and Europe. The first of these aircraft, sourced from HI FLY Malta, is already in service, contributing to seamless travel experiences for their passengers.

In other news, Air Mauritius has chartered an Airbus A340 for its Mauritius-London route, further enhancing connectivity and comfort for travelers. Nouvelair Tunisia, the second-largest airline in Tunisia, is gearing up for operational upgrades with the imminent arrival of its first two A320Neo aircraft in the third quarter of 2024, promising enhanced efficiency and passenger experiences.

On the domestic front, Kenyan ALS Limited the second largest airline in the country per fleet size has expanded its fleet with the delivery of an ERJ145, showcasing the airline commitment to meeting diverse travel demands within Kenya and beyond.

Lastly, EGYPTAIR President Yahya Zakaria has announced the sale of 12 Airbus A220-300 aircraft to Russia’s Azur Air, citing climate pressures as a factor. The proceeds from this deal will be used to repay loans, highlighting its strategic financial management. Meanwhile, AIR TANZANIA COMPANY LIMITED has returned a 16-year-old ATR72-500 after a 5-month damp lease, with the aircraft having been integrated into Precision Air operations since October 21, 2023.

Aviation Infrastructure and Financing.

Libya is embarking on a transformative journey with a strategic partnership between Terminal Yapı Tic.A.Ş and ERG INTERNATIONAL UK LTD. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed aims to revitalize Tripoli International Airport, which suffered significant devastation during the aftermath of the conflict in Libya following the end of Muammar Gaddafi’s era. This initiative comes as a beacon of hope for Libya’s aviation sector, which has relied on Mitiga military airport to serve as the main gateway for commercial flights in the Libyan capital.

Meanwhile, MIDVEST, a Turkish company, has received approval to commence the modernization of Kinshasa Ndjili International Airport, marking a pivotal step towards enhancing the airport’s infrastructure and services. The project is set to span 29 years under a concession agreement, promising significant improvements for travelers and stakeholders alike.

In Somalia, the Somali Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA) marked a momentous occasion with the inauguration of its new headquarters within Adan Adde International Airport, underscoring the country’s commitment to modernizing its aviation infrastructure and services.

In a separate development, the Praia government has extended a lifeline to Cabo Verde Airlines by granting a 12-month guaranteed loan of 250,000,000 escudos, equivalent to about 2.4 million USD. This financial support underscores the government’s commitment to bolstering the airline industry and ensuring continued connectivity for Cabo Verde’s residents and visitors.

In other news:

Jambojet, Kenya’s pioneering low-cost airline, recently marked a significant milestone, celebrating a decade of successful operations that have propelled it to become Africa’s leading low-cost carrier. Over the past decade, the airline has traversed an impressive 3,501,279,980 kilometers and served a total of 7,086,762 passengers. Notable highlights include flying 4,386,865 passengers to the picturesque Kenyan coast, 1,053,864 to Eldoret, and 93,343 to the vibrant regional city of Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Additionally, 296,280 passengers have benefited from the convenient point-to-point network connecting Mombasa to Kisumu and Eldoret. To commemorate this remarkable journey, Jambojet offered 1,000 tickets at a discounted rate of just Ksh 10 (approximately 0.077 USD), inviting travelers to join in the celebration.

In Botswana, a new era in aviation innovation has dawned with the opening of a drone assembly and testing center in Palapye, a collaboration between Botswana International University of Science & Technology (BIUST) and Mileage Group. This groundbreaking initiative introduces SkyMax, Botswana’s first locally assembled drone, with a focus on enhancing the drone ecosystem and providing services ranging from pilot training to agricultural applications, revolutionizing various industries.

Similarly, in Kenya, Baryuch Innovation Center, in partnership with local stakeholders, has embarked on testing the Hi-Fly unmanned Taxi, heralding a new era of electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. Launched in December 2020, Hi-Fly is dedicated to designing and manufacturing advanced eVTOL passenger and cargo aircraft, with initial flights planned between Nairobi (Wilson) and Diani (Ukunda), showcasing Kenya’s strides in futuristic aviation technologies.

Finally, in Eastern Congo, a Ugandan-registered Cessna 206 aircraft, 5X-MAL, was involved in a crash landing at Mahagi in Zale during the week. The aircraft, chartered by a company named TRACEP, had five occupants, including the pilot, all of whom thankfully escaped the crash with minor injuries.

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