Africa Weekly Aviation Trails: Week 22, 2024 Highlights.

he previous week was marked by several positive developments.  Nigeria cleared a significant portion of airline blocked funds, injecting a financial boost into the industry.  Demand continued its ascent, with both passenger and cargo traffic experiencing an upward trend.  Pratt & Whitney made history by breaking ground for aircraft component manufacturing in Africa, while airlines like Qatar and Ethiopian Airways expanded their networks with exciting new routes.  Read on to explore these highlights and learn more about the factors shaping the African aviation sector.


Great news of the week! According to International Air Transport Association (IATA) the amount of airline blocked ticket sales funds by governments has seen a significant decrease of 28%. As of April, the total stands at approximately $1.8 billion, a reduction of $708 million since December 2023. This positive change is largely attributed to the efforts of the Nigerian government. At its peak, the amount of blocked airline funds in Nigeria totaled $850 million, severely impacting the country’s aviation sector and causing some airlines to reduce or even suspend operations altogether. However, Nigeria has now cleared 98% of these blocked funds, with the remaining $19 million withheld due to the central bank’s ongoing verification of outstanding forward claims filed by commercial banks.

Currently, eight countries are responsible for 87% (about $1.6 billion) of the blocked funds. These countries are Pakistan ($411 million), Bangladesh ($320 million), Algeria ($286 million), XAF Zone ($151 million), Ethiopia ($149 million), Lebanon ($129 million), Eritrea ($75 million), and Zimbabwe ($69 million).

In other news, ICAO AVSEC FAL announced earlier this week the release of The Disposal of Screening Equipment Guidance Material in collaboration with International Civil Aviation Organization. This concise but crucial document, endorsed during the thirty-fifth meeting of the AVSEC Panel 4, is fundamental to aviation security, enabling the efficient detection of prohibited items and weapons in high-traffic environments.

African Aviation: Projections And Statistics.

Global passenger demand has been on an upward trajectory for 36 consecutive months based on the latest International Air Transport Association (IATA) report. In April 2024, demand, measured in revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs), was up by an impressive 11.0% compared to April 2023, with a load factor of 82.4%. Total capacity, measured in available seat kilometers (ASKs), increased by 9.6% year-on-year.

Breaking it down between international and domestic travel, international demand surged by 15.8%, while domestic demand saw a 4% rise compared to April 2023. The international load factor was 82.2%, and the domestic load factor was 82.6%. African airlines experienced a significant 15.5% year-on-year increase in demand, with capacity improving by 10.4% and load factors rising to 73%.

In the air cargo sector, IATA’s latest projections indicate strong demand growth heading into Q2 2024. Total demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometers (CTKs), rose by 11.1% compared to April 2023 levels, marking the fifth consecutive month of double-digit year-on-year growth. Capacity, measured in available cargo tonne-kilometers (ACTKs), increased by 7.1% compared to April 2023, with international operations seeing a 10.2% rise. African airlines reported a 10.6% year-on-year demand growth for air cargo in April, representing a modest 2% of the global total. Notably, the Africa-Asia market saw a 25.8% increase in capacity compared to April 2023.

According to AviationValues, over 200 single-aisle aircraft deliveries have been made by OEMs in 2024 so far, with the Airbus Aircraft A320Neo family leading the pack. In terms of the time between first flight and delivery, most aircraft were delivered within 30 days of their first flight across manufacturers, with Airbus and Embraer performing exceptionally well in managing this timeline.

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

The Uganda Civil Aviation Authority(UCAA) has signed a new capacity development and implementation agreement with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). This landmark management services agreement (MSA), signed by Mr. Fred Bamwesigye, Director General of UCAA, and Juan Carlos Salazar, Secretary General of ICAO, will provide Uganda with a comprehensive portfolio of implementation support products and services. These include access to ICAO’s expert roster, project management, and customized training packages, significantly boosting Uganda’s aviation capabilities.

In other news, Ethiopian Cargo & Logistics Services has renewed its partnership with Liege Airport, solidifying Ethiopian Airlines’ status as a major cargo airline and establishing Addis Ababa as a key cargo hub on the continent. In 2023, Ethiopian Cargo airlifted an impressive 160,000 tonnes of cargo from Liege, connecting various continents and showcasing its global reach.

Meanwhile, Guinea-Bissau is looking to expand its air connectivity by opening its airspace to Qatar and Turkey. Following recent discussions with officials from both countries, Guinea-Bissau aims to enhance its international air links. Currently, the country has only one inter-Africa air link, but these new agreements promise to significantly improve its connectivity and economic prospects.

Routes and Airline Connectivity.

The Libyan Government of National Unity’s Minister of Transport, Mohamed al Shahoubi, announced the resumption of flights by Qatari and Jordanian airlines to and from Libya this month. Earlier in the week, a delegation from the Qatari Directorate of Civil Aviation Security and the Qatar Airways security team conducted a two-day visit to Tripoli to assess and audit the security procedures at Mitiga Airport, ensuring they meet the minimum standards for the resumption of Qatari flights.

During ITB China 2024, EgyptAir unveiled an ambitious plan to expand its presence in the Chinese market. The airline announced its intention to increase its Cairo-Shanghai route to four weekly flights starting July 14, with additional flights to Beijing also in the pipeline. Currently, EGYPTAIR operates 16 weekly flights between Cairo and various Chinese cities, including Guangzhou, Beijing, Shanghai, and Hangzhou.

Qatar Airways‘ inaugural flight from Doha to Kinshasa landed at Ndjili International Airport on Saturday, June 1, 2024. The B787-800 aircraft received a water cannon salute upon arrival. This new destination marks Qatar Airways’ 29th on the African continent.

Royal Air Maroc is set to inaugurate a new route to Nigeria on June 23, 2024, with flights to Abuja. Meanwhile, on Tuesday, May 28, 2024, Air Côte d’Ivoire relaunched its service to Niamey, the capital of Niger, after a 10-month hiatus following the 2023 coup. The airline will offer three weekly flights.

Ethiopian Airlines launched a new thrice-weekly flight to Freetown, Sierra Leone, on May 31, 2024. This new service will operate via Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, and will be served by the Boeing B787 Dreamliner aircraft. Additionally, Ethiopian Airlines has announced an increase in frequency to Ndola, Zambia, to daily flights beginning June 10.

In other news, Nigeria’s Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, recently described the controversial Nigeria Air project, unveiled by the previous government, as a fraud. The process of setting up the flag carrier, which was supposed to revive the hopes of Nigerian aviation, was shrouded in secrecy and will now remain indefinitely suspended.

Airline Fleets and ACMI’s.

Air Seychelles has placed one of its two Airbus A320 aircraft, registered as S7-VEV (MSN 8972), with its former strategic partner Etihad Airways under a wet lease agreement.

TAAG-Linhas Aereas de Angola is set to modernize its fleet with the expected induction of its first A220-300 this July. The airline also anticipates the arrival of its very first brand-new B787-9 aircraft directly from Boeing before the end of the year.

Aviation Infrastructure and Financing.

On May 27, 2024, Pratt & Whitney held a groundbreaking ceremony for the manufacture of aircraft components in Morocco. This marks a first for the continent, signifying a major milestone in African aviation manufacturing.

In another exciting development, China-based Shanghai Boaye has been awarded a contract to modernize Burundi’s primary gateway, Bujumbura International Airport, with financing from China. The project is set to begin this August, promising to elevate the airport’s infrastructure and services.

The Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA) provided a status update on the ongoing 20,000-square-meter terminal building construction connected to the existing terminal. According to the report, the new terminal is anticipated to be completed before the end of 2024, increasing the airport’s capacity from the current 2 million passengers per year to at least 3.5 million annually.

Madagascar Airlines has received a USD 25 million capital injection from The World Bank to kickstart its recovery plan under The Economic Transformation for Inclusive Growth Project. This funding could lead to significant investment in the Malagasy aviation sector. The airline is seeking USD 100 million in total financing to realize its ambitious restructuring plan, known as “Phoenix 2030,” aimed at achieving financial stability.

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has downgraded its 7.76% stake in Kenya Airways to a financial asset, stating that the share is of limited strategic significance and serves merely as a tradable financial asset. KLM initially purchased a 26.7% stake in Kenya Airways during its privatization in 1995, becoming the largest strategic foreign investor in KQ for nearly 30 years. This stake gave KLM a seat on the KQ board and the right to appoint certain executives. However, the airline’s influence has waned with the dilution of its stake to the current 7.76%.

Puma Energy Zimbabwe has invested an additional USD 3 million to expand its aviation fuel storage facility in Harare. This follows a USD 30 million pledge by the company to consolidate its footprint in the country.


Exciting news for travelers to Southern Africa! The countries of Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe have introduced a unified visa known as the “Univisa” during the recent KAZA heads of states summit in Livingstone, Zambia. This special visa allows tourists to explore multiple countries within the region with a single application, eliminating the need for separate visas for each country. This initiative is set to boost tourism by simplifying travel logistics across these five African nations.

Meanwhile, in Thailand, the Foreign Ministry has released a list of 93 nations whose citizens can enter the country without a visa or obtain a visa on arrival, allowing them to stay for up to 60 days. Unfortunately, this list includes only two African countries out of the continent’s 54: Mauritius and South Africa.

In other news:

Kenyan Z.Boskovic Air Charters Ltd has joined the African Airlines Association (AFRAA) as its newest member. AFRAA, the leading trade association for African airlines, envisions a sustainable, interconnected, and affordable air transport system in Africa, where African airlines play a pivotal role in driving the continent’s economic development.

General Aviation Service (GAS), a UK-based trip support provider specializing in permits and ground handling solutions across Africa, is expanding its footprint to include Botswana, Namibia, and Mozambique. GAS also offers global fuel options, further enhancing its comprehensive service offerings.

Airports Council International – ACI Africa recently conducted a two-week practical training course on technical inspections and maintenance of aeronautical pavements at Aeroport de Libreville in Gabon, at the request of the airport operator. The training enabled airport personnel to master Annex 14 and its Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs), improve runway safety through thorough inspections, manage non-compliance issues, and integrate into aerodrome safety or certification teams.

In South Africa, South African Airways‘ interim CEO, John Lamola, has denied any discussions of an equity partnership with Qatar Airways. This clarification puts an end to speculations following comments made by Qatar Airways’ CEO at the Qatar Economic Forum in Doha regarding an equity stake in a South African airline.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Jean-Pierre Bemba has been appointed as the Minister of Civil Aviation by the President, marking a significant leadership change in the country’s aviation sector.

In Kenya, two Kenya Airways flights were involved in incidents last week. The first incident involved a Boeing B737-800 (5Y-CYA) operating flight KQ731 from Nairobi to Kisumu. The aircraft experienced a serious incident due to a bird strike that critically damaged the steering system. After three landing attempts, the aircraft safely came to rest at the end of Runway 24. The second incident involved an Embraer E190AR (5Y-FFG) forced to return to Nairobi after being unable to land at Mogadishu Aden Adde International Airport (MGQ), Somalia. The aircraft circled in a holding pattern for 35 minutes before returning. Ahmed Hassan, the Director General of the Somali Civil Aviation Authority, dismissed speculations of security concerns, attributing the return to strong tailwinds on Runway 05.

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