Africa Weekly Aviation Trails: Week 24, 2024 Highlights.

In week 24, the aviation industry saw a flurry of activity with the unveiling of several new routes, a major airline celebrating 32 years of navigating African skies, a nation mourning a tragic crash, and the end of the RwandAir CEO’s tenure as IATA president. Explore the article below to uncover these and other notable highlights.


Kenya Airways(KQ) has been selected as the sole African airline to lead the International Air Transport Association (IATA)’s Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) Registry. This recognition comes on the heels of Kenya Airways receiving the Most Impactful Breakthrough award for pioneering the use of SAF on a long-haul flight from Africa to Europe in October 2023. This landmark flight marked a significant milestone in testing SAF within Africa, providing valuable data and insights to inform policy decisions, regulatory frameworks, and industry best practices.

In another notable development, Yvonne Manzi Makolo, the CEO of RwandAir Ltd, has concluded her tenure as the chair of the IATA Board of Governors. Yvonne is celebrated as the first woman to hold this prestigious position since IATA’s founding in 1945. She passes the baton to Pieter Elbers, the CEO of IndiGo (InterGlobe Aviation Ltd), continuing a legacy of leadership and innovation in the aviation industry.

African Aviation: Projections and Statistics.

The busiest airports in Africa, measured by the number of scheduled daily departures (excluding freighters and chartered flights), are as follows:

The inability of African-owned airlines to maintain their aircraft is exacerbating prohibitive airfares and low capacity. Over 50% of aircraft owned by Nigerian airlines, for instance, are either parked at airports or undergoing maintenance in Nigeria or overseas. This has led to a significant reduction in capacity and a sharp increase in airfares.

In Kenya, the recently released Economic Survey for 2023 reveals that despite having more than 1,800 registered aircraft, only 723 have a valid Certificate of Airworthiness (CoA). This indicates that a large portion of the African fleet is not airworthy and remains grounded. This situation has raised concerns that flight operations across Africa may shrink to skeletal levels, hampering economic activities.

The major causes of this predicament include the inability of airlines to obtain foreign exchange to pay for maintenance due to the depreciation of local currencies, the high cost of foreign exchange, and fluctuating exchange rates. These financial challenges have made it increasingly difficult for African airlines to keep their fleets operational, further straining the aviation sector on the continent.

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

Abuja-based Flybird, a non-scheduled aircraft company, was granted an Air Operator Certificate (AOC) by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) last week. Flybird specializes in a wide array of aircraft management solutions tailored for aircraft owners and operators, offering services such as aircraft maintenance, crew management, flight planning, and charter operations. Meanwhile, in Kenya Kenyan Phoenix Aviation Ltd has acquired the TCAA certificate, allowing the airline to operate within Tanzania for both air charters and air ambulance services.

In a move to enhance commercial and operational ties, EGYPTAIR and Etihad Airways have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). This agreement will deepen the codeshare between the two airlines, providing seamless travel for guests across both networks. Additionally, the MoU paves the way for cooperation on frequent flyer programs and joint marketing campaigns aimed at stimulating and rewarding their customers.

A Gabonese delegation, led by Eric Tristan, the Director General of the country’s Civil Aviation Organization, met with Ethiopian Deputy General Directors mengistu nigussie and Michael Tesfaye of the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority. The delegation expressed interest in exploring areas of cooperation, including the formulation and implementation of regulations, and licensing and certification processes, to strengthen their aviation industry collaboration.

South African Airways(SAA) has partnered with the AHIF – Africa Hospitality Investment Forum(AHIF) to offer delegates up to a 15% discount on flights to the AHIF Conference 2024 in Windhoek, Namibia. AHIF is a premier hospitality investment conference that connects business leaders from local and international markets to drive investment into tourism projects, infrastructure, and hotel development across Africa.

Routes and Airline Connectivity.

Ethiopian Airlines began its inaugural thrice-weekly service to Maun, the tourism capital of Botswana, on June 10. Operating on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays, this new route reflects the airline’s commitment to its Pan-African roots, connecting every part of Africa and beyond, according to the CEO. Maun is Ethiopian Airlines’ second destination in Botswana, following Gaborone.

TAAG-Linhas Aereas de Angola is set to launch a new service between Luanda and Brazzaville in July 2024, expanding its network in Central Africa.

Starting October 29, 2024, easyJet will introduce two new routes from Lisbon and Porto, Portugal, to the island of Sal in Cape Verde. This marks easyJet’s first destination in West Africa and its southernmost point in its network. The airline will offer four weekly flights from Lisbon and two from Porto, all using A320neo aircraft with 186 seats. Additionally, easyJet has launched a year-round route from Belfast International Airport, Northern Ireland, to Enfidha, Tunisia, operating every Tuesday and Saturday.

RwandAir Ltd Cargo, the air cargo service of Rwanda’s national carrier, announced new flights between Dubai and Djibouti beginning June 17, 2024. These additions increase RwandAir’s cargo network to seven destinations across Africa and the Middle East.

Air Sénégal S.A will reinstate services to Barcelona, Lyon, and Marseille later this month. These routes, suspended since late January 2024, will operate during the peak season from June to September 2024.

Royal Air Maroc is set to resume scheduled flights from Casablanca to São Paulo on December 7, 2024. This will be the airline’s longest planned nonstop route, operated three times a week using the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Ethiopian Airlines is planning a new route connecting Ghana with Canada. The airline, which has been granted fifth freedom rights to operate direct flights between Accra, Ghana, and a yet-to-be-named Canadian city, is working with Canadian aviation authorities to finalize this new route.

FlyNamibia has announced a new flight routing system starting July 3 through the end of October. The new route will connect Windhoek (Hosea Kutako), Maun, and Katima Mulilo, with select flights following this route.

Ethiopian Airlines has inaugurated a new thrice-weekly domestic service to Gudina Tumsa Nekemte Airport, enhancing connectivity within Ethiopia.

The Sudanese carrier Tarco Airlines has received approval from the Civil Aviation Authority to operate three weekly flights between Muscat, Oman, and Port Sudan. Services are set to commence on June 19, 2024, providing a new direct link between the Middle East and North Africa.

flydubai has suspended its scheduled service to Mogadishu, the capital city of Somalia, effective June 11, 2024. An official letter dated June 5, 2024, cited “operational reasons” for the suspension. The airline first operated the Dubai-Mogadishu route on March 9, 2023.

Airline Fleets and ACMI’s.

Tunisia-based private carrier Tunisavia has taken delivery of a new DH6-400 turboprop aircraft. The airline specializes in providing air support for onshore and offshore oil companies, as well as offering medical evacuation services, aerial work, business aviation, and airport assistance.

Congo Airways has issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) for four Airbus A320-200 aircraft as part of its efforts to continue domestic services and restart regional operations. Meanwhile, Renegade Air, based out of Wilson Airport in Nairobi, has expanded its fleet with the acquisition of a Fokker 50 aircraft.

Mont Gabaon Airline, a new startup based in the Democratic Republic of Congo, has acquired its second aircraft, an ATR72-500, and plans to commence operations soon once it obtains its Air Operator Certificate (AOC). Meanwhile, Liz Aviation, a new airline founded in 2023 and based in Burkina Faso, has added an ATR72 aircraft to its fleet.

There are rumors that Uganda Airlines has received a Boeing 737-400 cargo aircraft and is expecting six more after signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Alpha MBM on May 23, 2024. Alpha MBM is reportedly owned by a member of the Dubai royal family, who has now invested in Uganda with the commitment to equip the national airline with up to seven dedicated freight carriers.

Aviation Infrastructure and Financing.

São Tomé and Príncipe has announced a 300-million-euro modernization of its main airport, set to begin this year with the signing of a contract with FB Airport STP of the Turkish FB Groupe. The project will involve a complete overhaul, including the expansion and rehabilitation of existing aprons, and the runway and taxiway. This ambitious project will be executed under a build-operate-transfer model, with a 49-year concession.

The Cameroon Airports Corporation (ADC) has issued an international call for expressions of interest for the renovation of Douala International Airport. Signed on May 24, 2024, by ADC’s Director General, Thomas Owona Assoumou, the renovation plan includes reorganizing passenger pathways, creating a centralized screening checkpoint, separating arrival and departure flows, distinguishing international and domestic flows, upgrading equipment to international standards, and rearranging aircraft parking stands. The total cost of the project is estimated at CFA 66 billion (approximately $120 million) and aims to bring the 1977-built airport infrastructure and amenities up to international comfort, safety, and security standards.

The Somali government has announced an ambitious plan to build a new airport in Mogadishu at Eelmaan. This project aims to enhance the country’s aviation capabilities and address current congestion issues. The announcement was made by Ahmed Hassan, the director of the Somali Civil Aviation Authority, highlighting the government’s commitment to improving infrastructure and connectivity in the country.

Aviation Accidents/Incidents

On Tuesday afternoon, flights in and out of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) were disrupted when a Kenya Airways B737 cargo plane stalled on the airport’s single runway. The aircraft, en route to Juba, South Sudan from Sharjah, UAE, was diverted to Nairobi after reports indicated that it left tire debris on the runway in Sharjah shortly after takeoff. Fortunately, the plane landed safely, and no injuries were reported.

Tragedy struck in Malawi this week as a Dornier 228-202K military aircraft crashed in Chikangawa Forest Reserve, Mzimba District, claiming the lives of Malawi’s Vice President, Dr. Saulos Chilima, and nine others on Monday, June 10.

In South Africa, a Cessna182 Skylane encountered a technical malfunction, collided with a tree, and crashed in Masakona. Miraculously, the four occupants survived the crash, with only one sustaining minor injuries.

In other news:

The Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA) conducted a partial emergency exercise last week to assess the readiness of emergency response teams in the event of an aircraft accident. The simulation allowed airport authorities to test response times, fire-fighting capabilities, medical emergency services, and coordination with stakeholders, ensuring a robust and effective emergency response system.

Airlink celebrated its 32nd year of active flight operations across African skies. Founded on June 11, 1992, the airline now flies to over 50 destinations and operates more than 60 regional aircraft, marking a significant milestone in its journey.

The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) issued a warning to all aircraft operators after a report from the Office of the National Security Adviser about an unidentified aircraft that overflew the presidential villa. This alert underscores the importance of vigilance and security in Nigerian airspace.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak confirmed on June 12 the date for the first Rwanda deportation flight, set for July 24, 2024. This long-discussed Rwanda deportation scheme, first proposed in 2022, aims to curb immigration by relocating illegal immigrants to Rwanda for processing, asylum, and settlement.

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