Africa Weekly Aviation Trails: Week 17, 2024 Highlights.

In the previous week, Africa witnessed the convening of two significant conferences. Additionally, three nations unveiled their aviation statistics, revealing a notable growth in passenger numbers. Moreover, new bilateral air service agreements and partnerships were forged, accompanied by announcements of new routes, among other developments. Learn more about the advancements that transpired during Week 17 of 2024 below.


The past week witnessed a whirlwind of activity in African aviation with two major conferences taking center stage. First up was MRO Africa 2024, a premier event for international and African Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) suppliers. Held in Addis Ababa from April 23rd to 25th, the conference buzzed with attendees eager to explore the latest trends and technologies.

Participants delved into in-depth analyses of Africa’s rapidly modernizing airline fleet, gaining insights into the future of MRO services on the continent. Discussions covered cutting-edge software solutions, the potential for joint ventures, and innovative approaches to tackling the industry’s skills gap. Three days of dedicated networking opportunities allowed attendees to forge valuable connections and propel African aviation forward.

Hot on the heels of MRO Africa was the inaugural Aviation Week Africa Summit in Lusaka, Zambia, held from April 22nd to 24th. Under the theme “Advancing Collaborative Synergies,” this landmark event brought together leading figures from African aviation. The summit tackled pressing issues facing the continent’s airlines, paving the way for a more prosperous and interconnected aviation future for Africa.

African Aviation: Projections And Statistics.

In March 2024, Boeing secured a significant order for 20 new Boeing B777Xs from an undisclosed customer, adding to its success with a total of 113 orders received during the same period, including major deals with American Airlines (85 orders) and Ethiopian Airlines (8 orders). However, Ethiopian Airlines also canceled 3 B777Fs during this time. Meanwhile, Boeing delivered 29 new aircraftin the same month.

Moving to African aviation trends, Moroccan airports experienced a notable surge in air traffic in the first quarter of 2024, with passenger numbers reaching 6.8 million by March, a 14% increase compared to the previous year. The National Airports Office (ONDA) reported over 51,000 flights during this period, marking an 11% annual rise. Notably, @Marrakech airport led the growth with a remarkable 22% increase in traffic, followed by Agadir (23%), Rabat-Sale (32%), dAKHLA (19%), Essaouira (38%), and Ouarzazate (36%). This growth was attributed to a surge in tourism, driven by high aircraft occupancy rates of up to 90% and the launch of new flight routes.

In Namibia, international visitor arrivals surged to over 71,000 passengers within two months, indicating a positive trend compared to the corresponding period in 2023, which recorded 57,921 passengers. This uptick reflects growing interest in Namibia as a travel destination.

Ethiopian Airlines showcased its robust growth not only in international routes but also domestically. The airline anticipates serving around 3.5 million domestic passengers by the end of this financial year in June 2024, marking a significant 34.6% increase from the previous year’s passenger numbers of 2.6 million. This expansion underscores Ethiopian Airlines’ strategic focus on both international and domestic market segments.

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

Qatar and Libya recently signed an initial bilateral air service agreement (BASA) in Qatar, marking a significant step toward restoring Qatar Airways air traffic connections between the two nations. This agreement, witnessed by Qatar’s Minister of Transport Jassim Bin Saif Al-Sulaiti, sets the stage for enhanced cooperation in aviation.

Chad and Gabon have also made progress by updating their bilateral air service agreement, which had been in force for over 20 years since 1996. This update aligns with the current requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), ensuring a more contemporary framework for air travel between the two countries.

Uganda Airlines is gearing up for the potential launch of direct flights from Entebbe to Abu Dhabi following a fruitful meeting between the Uganda embassy in Abu Dhabi and the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA). This initiative aims to strengthen bilateral relations between Uganda and the UAE while offering convenient air travel options for passengers.

In a strategic move, Air Seychelles and SriLankan Airlines Official have entered into a codeshare partnership, enabling seamless travel to new destinations across Asia, Africa, and Australia for passengers flying between Colombo and Mahe. This collaboration enhances connectivity and expands the reach of both airlines in key regions.

Meanwhile, Air France KLM Engineering & Maintenance (AFI KLM E&M) achieved significant milestones during the recent MRO Conference. The group secured contractual agreements with three airlines, including AIR TANZANIA COMPANY LIMITED for component support, Ethiopian Airlines for Boeing 777 fleet support, and TAAG-Linhas Aereas de Angola for pool and repair component services, aiming to enhance operational efficiency and customer satisfaction.

Royal Air Maroc celebrated 25 years of partnership with Safran Aircraft Engines Services Morocco (SAESM) by extending their collaboration. This joint venture not only focuses on aircraft engine maintenance but also includes plans for expanding the Nouaceur plant near Casablanca’s Casablanca Mohammed V International Airport, demonstrating a commitment to long-term growth and excellence in aviation services.

Routes and Airline Connectivity.

Lufthansa, in collaboration with Munich Airport International, has unveiled plans for direct air service between Munich and Johannesburg, commencing on September 2, 2024. The route will be serviced by an Airbus A350-900 aircraft, accommodating up to 293 passengers across business, premium economy, and economy classes every Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday.

Delta Air Lines has announced substantial expansion initiatives for Nigeria and Ghana, effective October 27, 2024. They will reintroduce daily nonstop flights between New York and Lagos, utilizing the A330-200 aircraft after a two-year hiatus. This new service complements their existing Atlanta-Lagos route using the same aircraft model. Additionally, Delta Airlines will boost the daily capacity of Accra-New York flights by 33% (adding 80 more seats) with the deployment of the larger Airbus A330-900Neo.

Etihad is gearing up to reintroduce daily service between Nairobi and Abu Dhabi starting May 1, 2024. This route, previously operational until 2020 before being paused due to the Covid19 pandemic, will resume to facilitate seamless travel between the two destinations.

FlyNamibia is poised to launch flights to Botswana from July 3, 2024. The airline will operate three weekly direct flights on Sundays, Wednesdays, and Fridays between Hosea Kutoka in Namibia and Maun Airport in Botswana.

In light of the collapsed equity partnership deal with private investor Takatso Consortium and South African Airways, the national carrier has announced a halt on additional routes to its network. However, discussions have reignited with Kenya Airways for the formation of a pan-Africa airline group, leveraging assets and creating a strong air transport connection across Africa, focusing on hubs in Johannesburg and Nairobi.

On the domestic front, South African airline LIFT has temporarily suspended one of its daily routes connecting King Shaka Airport in Durban and Cape Town from May 7 to June 12, 2024. The airline assures passengers that all existing bookings will be accommodated.

Unfortunately, BESTFLY has ceased operations in Cape Verde after facing challenges with meeting air service commitments and concerns regarding its financial capacity, leading to the revocation of approvals and licenses by the local civil aviation authority.

Airline Fleets and ACMI’s.

Air Sénégal S.A has bolstered its fleet in preparation for the summer peak by introducing a leased Airbus A320. Despite facing challenges with three grounded aircraft requiring airworthiness recertifications, the airline is strategically enhancing its capacity.

LIAT 2020 Ltd., based in Antigua, has welcomed its first two jet aircraft, Embraer ERJ 145s with registrations 5N-BVD and 5N-BXG. Another ERJ145 from private Nigerian airline @Air Peace, holding a 70% stake in LIAT, is expected soon, marking a significant step forward for the carrier.

Despite the ongoing civil war in Sudan, Badr Airlines has strengthened its fleet with the acquisition of a 13-year-old Boeing 737-800, showcasing resilience and strategic growth amidst challenges.

Gabon’s newly planned national carrier, FlyGabon, operated by Afrijet Business Service, has secured its initial fleet with two ATR72-600s. Fly Air Gabon Holding, the parent company, has acquired a majority stake of 56%, signaling a promising start for this venture.

CemAir has expanded its fleet by adding a CRJ200 aircraft while simultaneously leasing out a CRJ700 in Mongolia, demonstrating strategic fleet management and international partnerships.

Renegade Air is anticipating the arrival of an ATR72-500F with MSN875 and registration 5Y-RNF, representing a new model for the airline as it looks to optimize its operations and fleet composition.

Aviation Infrastructure and Financing.

Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) has highlighted the challenges faced by airlines in communicating with air traffic controllers, leading to many airlines avoiding Nigeria’s airspace. Mr. Faroul Umar, the Managing Director, emphasized the need for increased investments to upgrade and modernize the deteriorating communication systems, aligning them with the evolving requirements of air traffic management.

There are speculations that Kenya is considering plans to construct a new $2 billion (KSh264 billion) international airport in Nairobi. This initiative aims to alleviate the strain on Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), which has experienced a decline in its regional aviation status due to capacity constraints and infrastructure deficiencies.

Aviation Incidences and Accidents

A Safair Boeing 737-800 aircraft (ZS-FGE) built in 2007 experienced left hand (LH) outer main landing gear (MLG) wheel separation during takeoff from Runway 21R at Johannesburg OR Tambo International Airport. Following takeoff, the aircraft safely returned to land on the same Runway 21R after approximately 190 minutes of flight without any further incident reported.

In another incident, a Dana Air MD-82 registered as 5N-BKI was involved in a runway excursion while landing on Runway 18L at Lagos International Airport. This incident led to damage to the airline’s nose landing gear, but all passengers were safely evacuated.

At Goma International Airport in the DRC, flight operations were suspended due to a mechanical breakdown of an Ethiopian Airlines B787-8 Dreamliner (ET-AOU) on active Runway 35. The aircraft reportedly experienced a loss of steering capability upon landing due to hydraulic system issues.

In other news:

Kenya’s delegation submitted the original instruments to ICAO for the ratification of amendments to Articles 50(a) and 56 of the convention on international civil aviation. The Protocol related to the amendment of Article 50(a) aims to increase the Council’s membership from thirty-six (36) to forty (40), while the Protocol concerning the amendment to Article 56 seeks to boost the Air Navigation Commissioners’ membership, enhancing efficiency in the standard-setting process.

Cameroon achieved an improved compliance rate of 78.59% in the universal security audit program (USAP), a key metric for assessing member states’ capacity within ICAO to oversee aviation security and safety.

Two Kenya Airways employees stationed in Kinshasa ND’jili Airport were arrested and detained by the military intelligence unit. They were allegedly charged with missing customs documentation for valuable cargo intended for a KQ flight on April 12, 2024. Despite the court’s decision to grant their unconditional release for due process in civil court, the military intelligence continues to hold them incommunicado despite their civilian status.

Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) diverted flight operations from the E Wing of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) due to a fire outbreak. The fire department managed to extinguish the fire in time to prevent further damages. Meanwhile, Hadi Sirika, Nigeria’s former Minister of Aviation, was arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for alleged embezzlement of $6 million, partly associated with the failed launch of Nigeria Air.

Heavy rainfall in Nairobi disrupted flights at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, causing flooding in parts of the terminal and access roads. Kenya Airways flights had to divert back to Moi International Airport in Mombasa due to poor visibility, with potential delays anticipated due to adverse weather conditions.

Airport Company South Africa warned travelers using Cape Town International Airport of potential disruptions due to an impending strike by members of the Western Cape E-Hailing Association. The strike was scheduled to occur from Saturday to Monday, during which participating drivers would cease e-hailing services at the airport.

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