Africa Weekly Aviation Trails: Week 16, 2024 Highlights.


During the past week, several significant events unfolded in the African aviation landscape. Skytrax revealed its annual World Airport Awards, acknowledging 18 airports from 11 countries in Africa for their excellence. Concurrently, data from Hanley and Partners showcased Africa’s prominence in the list of highest Schengen visa rejection countries. Additionally, the International Air Transport Association marked a significant anniversary, while a tragic military helicopter crash cast a somber mood over a particular country. Explore the articles below for a detailed overview of the week’s highlights in African aviation.


In a heartbreaking incident, a Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) helicopter tragically crashed and caught fire last week on Thursday afternoon in the Sindar area, bordering West Pokot and Elgeyo Marakwet counties in Kenya. This led to the loss of nine military personnel, including the esteemed Military Chief General Francis Omondi Ogolla, casting a profound sense of sadness and mourning across the country. To honor General Ogolla’s legacy, the state declared three days of national mourning. Two individuals on board the helicopter survived the crash and are currently receiving medical treatment.

On a contrasting note, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) celebrated its 79th anniversary in the past week, marking a significant milestone since its establishment in Havana, Cuba, on 19 April 1945. From its modest beginnings with 57 members from 31 nations, IATA has grown exponentially, now representing over 320 airlines from 120 nations. This remarkable growth underscores its pivotal role as a platform for inter-airline cooperation, fostering safety, reliability, security, and cost-effective air services worldwide, benefiting consumers across the globe.

African Aviation: Projections And Statistics.

Preliminary data from ACI World – Airports Council International indicates that the global total passenger figure for 2023 stands close to 8.5 billion, marking a 2.7% increase from 2022 and a recovery of 93.8% from pre-pandemic levels in 2019. A detailed breakdown shows that the international market saw a growth rate of 36.5% (reaching 90.4% of the 2019 level), while the domestic market experienced a 20.2% growth (achieving a recovery of 96.8% from 2019).

According to International Air Transport Association (IATA), airlines have the option to either purchase aircraft outright or lease them. Recent data indicates that leasing has become the favored choice, increasing from around 10% of the total aircraft fleet in the 1970s to 58% by the end of 2023. The shift towards leasing surpassed the 50% mark in 2004 and has since stabilized at around 60%, indicating that this split may be considered optimal.

Regarding visa rejection rates into the Schengen region of Europe, Africa dominates the list of countries with the highest rejection rates. Data from Hanley and Partners shows that African nations accounted for 70% of the top 10 countries globally in terms of visa rejection rates, despite having the lowest number of visa applications per capita. The figures reveal significant rejection rates for countries like Algeria (45.8% from 392,053 applications), Guinea-Bissau (45.2% from 7,990 applications), Nigeria (45.1% from 86,815 applications), Ghana (43.6% from 42,124 applications), Senegal (41.6% from 56,866 applications), Guinea (40.6%), and Mali (39.9%).

Skytrax recently announced the outcomes of its yearly World Airport Awards. As a renowned evaluator of airlines and airports, Skytrax conducted thorough surveys at more than 570 airports globally, capturing traveler feedback and evaluating multiple performance criteria. In Africa, 18 airports spanning 11 countries were acknowledged, showcasing remarkable accomplishments particularly from South Africa and Morocco. The accompanying figure illustrates these recognized airports across the continent, with each position indicating its ranking within specific categories in Africa.

Figure: Skytrax Africa airports awards

Source: Adopted from Skytrax

Airports statistics

On Saturday, April 13, 2024, Cairo International Airport achieved a historic milestone by handling a total of 746 flights (both inbound and outbound) and serving 94,000+ passengers in a single day, setting a new daily record since its commencement of commercial operations in 1945. This achievement surpasses its previous record set in March 2023, with 612 aircraft movements and 82,000+ passengers in a single day. Moreover, during the period from April 9 to 14, Cairo International Airport managed an impressive 3,636 flights, facilitating the travel of 500,000+ passengers, marking a significant peak in its operational capacity.

Meanwhile, Senegal’s Aéroport International Blaise Diagne SA saw a noteworthy increase in activity during Q1 2024, welcoming 741,000 passengers. This figure reflects a notable growth of 3.57% compared to the same period in 2023, which recorded 715,586 passengers.

Routes and Airline Connectivity.

Norse Atlantic Airways is excited to announce the launch of its newest route, connecting London Gatwick and Cape Town starting October 28th, 2024. Operating three times a week, passengers can now easily explore Cape Town’s vibrant culture and stunning landscapes. With the addition of Norse Atlantic Airways’ direct flights, the weekly international flights between Cape Town and the United Kingdom will increase to 27 flights per week.

In other news, CAMAIR-CO has unveiled a new destination in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, which will be added to the airline network starting from Tuesday, May 28th. The route will be serviced four times a week using a Boeing 737-700 aircraft. Additionally, Air Côte d’Ivoire has expanded its network by adding Casablanca, bringing their total destinations to 20.

Airline Fleets and ACMI’s.

ASKY AIRLINES, based in Lomé, recently welcomed its latest addition, a Boeing 737 Max 8 registered as ET-BAU, capable of accommodating up to 175 passengers. This expansion brings ASKY’s fleet to a total of 14 aircraft, supporting its operations across more than 20 cities in 25 African countries.

Air Algérie has further strengthened its operations by acquiring an A320 aircraft from the lease company Fly2Sky Airlines, registered as LZ-FSA and stationed in Algiers. This addition enhances Air Algerie’s capacity to cater to summer travel demand, especially for passengers flying to popular European destinations and beyond.

Royal Air Maroc has unveiled an ambitious plan to quadruple its fleet (currently operating 52 aircraft as of April 2024) by the end of the decade. The airline’s CEO, Abdelhamid Addou, announced the launch of a request for proposal (RFP) to expand the fleet to more than 250 aircraft.

Serve Air Cargo, based in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), has expanded its fleet with the addition of its first AIE B737-800 P2F, now totaling two B737 freighters since receiving the first one in June 2023. Additionally, Air Côte d’Ivoire is preparing to introduce a 7-year-old Airbus A319 into its fleet.

NG EAGLE, a startup airline established in 2019, successfully operated its inaugural commercial passenger flight between Abuja and Lagos in December 2023 using a leased A320-200 from Heston Airlines. However, the airline is currently facing operational challenges as it navigates the end of its lease agreement with Heston Airlines for its sole aircraft.

Aviation Infrastructure and Financing.

The United Nations has secured a proposed site from Kenya Airports Authority within Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport for the creation of a UN Humanitarian Logistics Hub. This hub, the first of its kind on the African continent, follows similar hubs in Dubai in the UAE, Copenhagenin Denmark, and Brindisi in Italy. It is poised to provide speedy delivery of life-saving aid to conflict regions and areas of humanitarian crises on the continent and other regions in the global south.

Casablanca is positioned to become a freighter conversion center for Boeing 777-300ERs through a venture involving Kansas Modification Center (KMC). Collaborating with Wichita State University and aerospace firm NIAR Werx, the project aims for US FAA approval of the supplemental type certificate in early 2025.

The African and Malagasy Civil Aviation Authorities (AAMAC), established in 2012 as the international organization for the coordination and supervision of civil aviation safety for Africa and Madagascar, have unveiled their new headquarters in N’Djamena, Chad.

In other news:

Airlink recently celebrated a High Court order that mandated South African Airways to “delete, destroy, and refrain from using” confidential commercial information obtained through a former executive in charge of sales and marketing. The individual in question allegedly copied and distributed this information to subordinates in October 2023 while still employed by Airlink, before transitioning to the South African flag carrier.

In March 2024, the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) issued stern warnings to private jet owners with permits for non-commercial flights (PNCF) against using their aircraft for commercial purposes. Despite these warnings, the issue persisted, prompting increased surveillance by the authority. Consequently, three private airline operators were found to be in violation, resulting in their suspension. Additionally, the authority initiated a reevaluation of all PNCF holders within a 72-hour timeframe, concluding on Friday, April 19, 2024.

The Ethiopia Civil Aviation Agency, acting as the civil regulator under the Ministry of Transport and Communications of the Ethiopian government, achieved significant revenue of 722 million birr (approx $12.7 million) over a nine-month period from rendered services.

Air Algérie, Algeria’s national flag carrier, has implemented new protocols to promote the use of the Arabic language in official communications across various departments, embassies, and governmental entities. This initiative aligns with Article 3 of the Algerian Constitution, which designates Arabic as the national and official language.

Arik Air encountered an in-flight return (turn back) of one of its aircraft, operating flight W3720 from Lagos to Abuja, within 10 minutes after take-off. This action was triggered by a false alarm from one of its indication lights suggesting a potential fire in the aft cargo area. The aircraft landed safely, and all passengers disembarked without incident. Thorough inspections were conducted to ensure the aircraft’s airworthiness.

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