Africa’s aviation industry creates 6.7 million jobs and $6.8bn for the continent’s GDP. However, various factors are undermining its development. AFM’s Africa correspondent, Kaleyesus Bekele, reports from Mombasa, Kenya.
Africa has seen many airlines come and go. They each rise with a wave of optimism, but crash with crippling debt and defeat. Air Afrique, Nigeria Airways, Ghana Airways, East African Airlines and Uganda Airlines are just some to have fallen into liquidation. Indeed, a number of African countries have lost their national carriers, forcing customers to depend on neighbouring airlines in order to fly to the rest of the world. Yet despite all this defeat, Africa’s aviation industry continues to battle on. It is, after all, a significant growth market and worth the fight. So, as old airlines disappear, new start-up carriers arrive. Some are more successful than others. Air Malawi, 1Time, Cameroon Airlines and Air Nigeria have recently gone bust. However, Air of Nigeria, ASKY, Pan African Airlines and Air Rwanda are thriving.
So what is behind all these casualties, and how can the existing carriers protect themselves from failing like their counterparts?
Meeting of Minds:
In late November 2013, African airline CEOs and civil aviation authorities gathered in Mombasa, Kenya, for the African Airlines Association (AFRAA) annual general assembly (AGA) to discuss the challenges Africa’s aviation industry faces. The three-day conference was held under the theme of ‘Challenging times – Africa’s strategic alignment’. It brought together over 360 high-profile delegates from 55 countries across the world. Among the issues, speakers highlighted poor airport infrastructure; high airport fees; market restrictions; exorbitant taxes; aviation fuel; and competition.
In his opening remarks, the secretary general of AFRAA, Elijah Chingosho, singled out excessive airport taxes, poor infrastructure and fuel prices that are above industry average as major challenges confronting airlines. “The generally high cost of operations is making African airlines less competitive,” he argues. South African Airway’s CEO, Monwabisi Kalawe, stresses the need for African airlines to co-operate. He believes the region’s most significant challenge is the cost of doing business in Africa. As an example, he notes that aviation fuel prices are much higher than the world average. “In some countries, airport fees are exorbitant and these have to be reviewed,” he says.
Adding to this, Tony Tyler, director general of IATA and guest speaker at the AGA, was critical of African governments. Tyler argues that African governments levy cumbersome airport fees and taxes on jet fuel and airfares. In particular, he cites the Kenyan and Ethiopian governments, and adds that the nation’s conflicting rules hinder the airline industry growth.
The problems with government run deep and downward to airline chief executives. Africa’s aviation industry is renowned for being laced with corruption, nepotism and bureaucracy. And it’s these things that link the government to some of the continent’s less scrupulous business leaders. For example, Khaya Ngqula, former South African Airlines CEO, has been accused of fraud totaling almost $3m (R30.8m), although it is something he contests. Still, this reputation impedes business and has resulted in many chief executives losing or changing roles.
According to Inati Ntshanga, CEO of SA Express, this instability is a major problem for African airlines. “Airline management is changed now and then. CEOs are removed more often. In some countries the management of the airline is changed when there is a change in the government,” Ntshanga explains. “There should be continuity in leadership. Look at Dr Titus [Naikuni], he led KQ for 12 years. Look at Tewolde [GebreMariam, CEO], he served Ethiopian since 1985. When a person stays with an airline, he will have the time required to implement his vision.”
Safety at stake:
Another contentious issue for Africa is safety, for which it also holds a poor reputation. Indeed, African carriers dominate the European Union’s (EU) blacklist, which bans certain airlines from flying into EU airspace. Among those banned are all 50 from the Democratic Republic of Congo; all four from Equatorial Guinea; all 17 from Mozambique; all 10 from São Tomé and Príncipe; all seven from Sierra Leone and all 18 airlines from the Republic of Sudan. Added to these are every airline from the Republics of Benin, Congo and Gabon, which each have eight airlines. Clearly more needs to be done in terms of safety, as well as the legislation, documentation and enforcement that surrounds it.
Speaking at the conference, Chingosho called on African states to take safety seriously and, together with the African Union, engage with the EU on what he considers is the unfair banning of African airlines. Naikuni, who is now president of the AFRAA and CEO of Kenya Airways, splits the problems into two categories: internal and external. “Safety is a major concern. If we have an unsafe airline, nobody is going to fly [with] us. We have to admit that. This is an internal problem. Of course, inappropriate government policies affect airline operations. Change in governments also impact airline management. We have four or five elections in Africa every year and these could have their own effects on the countries’ stability, and that translates to the airlines’ performance.”
Tyler argues that aviation’s economic and social benefits can be undermined by the unintended consequences of government action, which are not aligned with the established framework of global standards. “Global standards are the foundation upon which a safe, secure and integrated global air transport system is built. The system is so reliable that we don’t often think about the enormous co-ordination that makes it possible. That is why we need to remind governments of the value of global standards that support aviation and the vibrancy of their economies,” Tyler says.
Safety is the prime example of what can be achieved with a consistent, global approach. The IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) is the global standard for airline operational safety management. Over the decade since it was established, there has been a clear trend showing that the aggregate safety performance of airlines on the registry is superior to those airlines that are not on the registry. African airlines on the IOSA registry are performing in line with global averages. And in 2012 there was not a single Western-built jet hull loss by any of IATA’s 25 African member airlines.
“Improving safety is the biggest issue on Africa’s agenda, and global standards play a crucial role in this area. Last year, nearly half of the fatalities on Western-built jets occurred in Africa. African governments recognise the need to improve safety in the Abuja Declaration’s goal of reaching world-class safety levels by 2015. IATA is actively contributing its expertise and resources to all the Abuja Declaration’s commitments,” says Tyler. Of course, once this new level of safety is reached, Africa can look forward to market liberalisation. Naikuni notes that the slow pace of air transport liberalisation is hurting the growth and development of Africa.
The AFRAA AGA called upon governments to demonstrate commitment towards liberalising the air transport industry and creating an environment conducive to airline operations. This will increase regional and domestic traffic and create a bigger base market. Naikuni urges governments to remove barriers to co-operation and replace them with policies and regulatory framework. But once one hurdle is overcome, another is soon met. Although some airlines may not be prepared for competition in a liberalised environment, Naikuni argues that protecting such airlines puts back the whole industry.
Non-African carriers have dominated African skies and hold 80 per cent of the passenger traffic on intra-Africa routes. How can African airlines regain control of Africa’s air industry? Unfortunately, this is a question the airline CEOs could only ask, and not answer. According to GebreMariam, African carriers were operating under an unfriendly regulatory framework. He adds that markets are protected by bilateral air service agreements. “Unfortunately, there are African countries that prohibit African airlines from flying into their countries. There are countries that deny African airline traffic rights and grant rights to non-African airlines,” GebreMariam laments. According to him, African nations should open their skies for African airlines. “We need to whole heartedly implement the Yamoussoukro Declaration [a 1988 agreement by African countries to open their skies for African airlines].”
Some speakers raised concerns about the increasing dominance of Gulf carriers in Africa. Mega-carriers such as Emirates, Gulf Air and Etihad are dominating African skies. How can African airlines compete with giant carriers that are backed by their governments and that have access to cheaper fuel? Naikuni does not believe in banning. “We need to have a sound business development strategy that would enable us to compete with any airline,” he told participants. His vision is founded on a clear and justified confidence. The future of aviation in Africa has the potential to be very bright. Africa’s population of one billion people is spread across a vast continent with a wealth of untapped resources. The African economy is rapidly developing, its people are growing wealthier and governance is more stable.
“Africa is the continent of opportunity for aviation. The future is still being created. By keeping global standards at the heart of our efforts, I am convinced that the future will be bright,” Tyler surmises.
Cape Town - In a well-meaning attempt to drum up more business for our successful aerospace companies, SAA recently cancelled plans to order new wide-bodied planes for its long-haul routes until it included reciprocal orders for parts to be made in this country. But it became clear this week that to stem huge losses on all its international and some domestic routes, our national carrier cannot afford to lose time in acquiring the new aircraft. The high cost of jet fuel combined with the need to reduce pollution has caused competitors on international routes and Comair on domestic routes to replace their older gas-guzzling planes with more economical ones.
SAA explained this situation to the parliamentary portfolio committee on public enterprises , together with the fact that the fall in the rand is a further handicap as many of its expenses have to be paid in US dollars. Without this factor, it would have made a small profit this year. One of its disadvantages, as a state-owned airline, is that it is compelled to retain some of its worst loss-making routes, such as that to Beijing, for political reasons. Many Cape Town business people, for instance, fly to China or India with Emirates by way of Dubai – because of the greater comfort and convenience of travelling in the newest aircraft – rather than with SAA in an older plane by way of Johannesburg. SAA is also asking Airbus to speed up delivery of its new regional fleet of A 320s. Two have arrived, with 18 more to come.
Back to its roots:
SAA is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year and is returning to its roots by planning to enlarge its route network in Africa. Increasing prosperity and political stability in a number of countries have created an environment for business travel, and there are also signs that leisure travel is starting to grow. In the early days, SAA only flew domestic routes but in 1937 it started its first regional service between Joburg and Lusaka, with stops at Pietersburg (now Polokwane), Bulawayo and Livingstone. This was later extended to Nairobi and Kisumu. When World War II broke out in 1939, a section of SAA became a defence wing controlled by the Department of Defence, which took over its fleet of Junkers used on domestic flights and 22 percent of its staff.
In May 1940 the entire airline became a military unit, with all commercial flights suspended. But in December that year two commercial flights were reintroduced to neighbouring countries. It became a commercial operation again at the end of 1944 and started its first intercontinental route – to Bournemouth in the UK – in November 1945. The flights started in Palmietfontein and were routed by way of Nairobi, Khartoum, Cairo and Castel-Benito. SAA was one of the 44 founding members of the International Air Transport Association in 1945.
Five years later, when a domestic route network was more developed, it introduced Douglas DC4 aircraft into its fleet and operated a service between Joburg, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town, with stops in Kimberley, Bloemfontein and George. Jan Smuts Airport (now OR Tambo International) opened in April 1952 and in October of the following year, SAA became the first non-British airline to operate a jet aircraft from Joburg to London. In 1976, the first step towards making flights between London and Joburg accessible to the mass market – leading to the demise of the weekly mailship service between Southampton and Cape Town – was taken with the introduction of Boeing 747s on the route.
Between the early 1960s and the coming to power of South Africa’s first democratically elected government, many African countries denied SAA the right to enter or fly over their air space. This forced its aircraft to make a long detour over the sea, to avoid flying over the bulge of West Africa, but it flew to many European countries. Since then, though, it has withdrawn from most of its former European destinations, partly because the new government did not recapitalise it to renew its ageing fleet, so making its services uncompetitive.
Although SAA has been bailed out on several occasions, this was mainly to rescue it from difficulties caused by bad business decisions. It still flies from Joburg to the US, London, Germany and its partners in the BRICS (Brazil, India, China, Russia) group but, apart from this, SAA is gradually increasing the number of its destinations in sub-Saharan Africa. This region is attracting additional airlines, and more business and leisure travel, as it becomes more prosperous.
The Zambian Government is consulting renowned airlines to get experience as it looks for an equity partner to set up a national airline. Minister of Transport, Works, Supply and Communications Yamfwa Mukanga said Government is still looking for a partner in the establishment of a national flag carrier. Mr Mukanga said in an interview recently that running an airline industry is not an easy thing, hence the need by Government to enquire from firms that have been in the aviation sector for long. He said Government will not sit idle but keep on working towards the introduction of an effective airline that can contribute significantly to the country’s economic growth.
Recently, Government sent a delegation to the Middle East state of Qatar to consult on how it can help Zambia set up a national airline and a become a central hub in passenger and cargo traffic. He said Government has learnt a lot of lessons from the defunct Zambia Airways that collapsed a few years ago including other international airlines that are not operating. “We have visited Boeing, Airbus and now the Qatar government to ask them if they can consider Zambia and come on board for the establishment of an airline and a hub. We want to partner with big players so that we lessen the high capital costs of establishing the airline.
“We know how to run an airline – we ran Zambia Airways … [although] it went down. This time around we don’t want to make the same mistake like we did with Zambia Airways,” Mr Mukanga said. The minister said if Zambia becomes a central hub, it will help sustain economic development and help boost the aviation and tourism sectors. He said Zambia has a geographical advantage over most African countries hence this could benefit the country from trade that will be passing through the airport.
“The mission to Qatar was to see whether they can set up a hub here in Central Africa because our position is that if Zambia was a central hub, then everybody else will try to feed in and out of the country … it will be very good for us because I believe if we make Zambia a hub then transport and cost of doing business will be reduced,” he said. Mr Mukanga, however, said he is yet to get a full report from the team that went to Qatar. “They just came back and they will be giving us an update on what they discussed because we are asking from our cooperating partners – those who would want to come on board and help us,” he said.
The government says it has ratified seven bilateral air services agreements in a development which will see more tourist arrivals and an improvement on the sector's gross domestic product (GDP) contribution. The Minister of Tourism and Hospitality, Walter Mzembi revealed that cabinet approved the ratification of seven bilateral air service agreements, adding that the move is expected to boost the sector's revenue and its contribution to the GDP.
Mzembi, who was addressing senior army officers at the Zimbabwe Staff College, said his ministry has adopted several strategies which will be used to achieve the targets which were set by the government. "We are expected to contribute at least $3 billion to the GDP by 2018 from the current $851 million," he said. Mzembi said some of the strategies to improve the tourism sector's GDP contribution include the liberalisation of visas and the internal distribution of tourists. Currently, the tourism sector contributes 10 percent to the GDP.
Meanwhile, airline passengers have increased by 24 percent with the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) saying the figures recorded last year confirm that the country's connectivity has improved. A total of 594 000 arrivals came through local airports in 2013 up from 481 000 in 2012. Harare International Airport accounted for the bulk of the arrivals. CAAZ attributed the increase to improved connectivity brought about by new airlines in the skies. The hosting of major conferences such as the UNWTO General Assembly, as well as Air Zimbabwe's resumption of normal services were also cited as other factors that contributed to the increase in arrivals.
Local travel and tourism executive, Zodwa Mkandla said the government should be commended for its extensive marketing efforts of the country, highlighting that this augurs well for the tourism industry. "This means the airlines are making money, the travel agents are making money and I am sure CAAZ is smiling all the way to the bank," she said. Data from CAAZ shows that Harare International Airport recorded 435 000 arrivals, 90 percent of which were international arrivals while Victoria Falls and Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo airports recorded 107 000 and 45 100 passengers respectively.
Air travel has been on the increase in the country since Zimbabwe embraced some of the key principles of the open skies policy. Some of the airlines that resumed flights into the country include Emirates, British Airways, Mozambique's lAM Airlines, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Egypt Air.
Air Zimbabwe is once again mired in controversy after it was revealed that the country's former transport minister, Nicholas Goche, brokered a deal for the airline's now grounded A320-200s from Chinese businessman, Sam Pa, after Mr Pa reportedly donated USD100million to the country's much-feared Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO). In its report, South African investigative newspaper, the Mail & Guardian (M&G), says Goche worked with the director general of the CIO, Happyton Bonyongwe, in structuring the deal with Pa without the knowledge of the airline's now dissolved board.
Mr Pa is no stranger to the African aviation scene. In 2010, Pa and his "88 Queensway Group", a body of companies that includes the China International Fund (CIF) and China Sonangol International Holding, were lined up for a 49% stake in Air Tanzania only for the deal to collapse under murky circumstances. For a brief period, Air Tanzania operated an A320-200 which has since been transferred to Air Zimbabwe as Z-WPM (cn 630).
The state-owned Zimbabwean national airline is now reportedly considering ditching the two aircraft, stored in Johannesburg O.R. Tambo, owing to a lack of personnel qualified to both maintain and operate them.
HARARE, ZIMBABWE, February 24, 2014: Zimbabwe’s leading travel agents have been exploring the excitement of Dubai thanks to a special workshop in Harare hosted by Emirates, which flies daily from Harare to Lusaka and Dubai. Some 50 industry representatives gathered to hear more about the experiences on offer for Emirates passengers with a Dubai stopover.
Este McGalty from Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing was on hand to explain some of the many attractions, and the workshop was followed by an evening networking function for managers hosted by Emirates Country Manager Paulos Legesse. “Together, a flight with Emirates and a stopover in Dubai create an unbeatable game-changer. It is an experience that turns a journey into an adventure as you discover new cultures; fabulous food; and first-class service – in all classes,” Mr Legesse told the guests.
It is just over two years since Emirates added Harare to its global network, which now spans more than 140 destinations in 80 countries, connecting people and places through the airline’s hub in Dubai. A stopover in Dubai is an experience in itself: as well as the world class shopping for which it is famed. Dubai has also become a global centre for sports events, concerts and an increasing number of cultural activities.
The city is also home to an impressive display of modern architecture, contrasting with its natural beaches and magnificent desert landscapes–a rich backdrop for visitors and photography enthusiasts.Mr Legesse also outlined Emirates’ new service to Boston, USA, starting on March 10, talked about the airline’s growing fleet of A380 aircraft, and its sponsorship of the Rugby World Cup.
He also highlighted that Emirates fares offer real value for money. When flying with Emirates customers will experience its award-winning service and entertainment, on board comfort and modern aircraft. For enquiries and bookings, please contact your travel agent, visit www.emiratesholidays.com or visit the Emirates office in Wakefield Road, Avondale, Harare.
Sighting video of the first Kenya Airways 787 Dreamliner 5Y-KZA at Paine Field in Everett, WA USA. The 787 will operate the following routes beginning mid April: Dar es Salaam, Johannesburg, Mombasa, Nairobi, Paris.
Fastjet has recruited an experienced airline executive to spearhead its expansion in East Africa. Jimmy Kibati will become fastjet’s general manager, East Africa, on March 17 this year. He has over two decades’ experience in the commercial airline business, having joined Kenya Airways in 1992, where he progressed through various senior commercial positions, including head of network planning & airline strategy.
In January last year, he was appointed acting commercial director of Kenya Airways, where he oversaw the restructuring of the airline’s commercial department and drove the execution of the company’s commercial and planning strategies, including plans for the B787 Dreamliner and B777-300 fleet’s entry into service and new growth plans into Asia and Africa. Ed Winter, interim chairman and CEO, said: "I am absolutely delighted that we have recruited such a high calibre airline executive to spearhead fastjet’s expansion in East Africa. Jimmy’s vast experience in the East African aviation market will be invaluable as we fulfil our goal of becoming a truly pan-African low cost airline.
“Jimmy’s appointment underlines the confidence which fastjet’s track record has generated within the industry.”
GOVERNMENT has signed Bilateral Air Service Agreements (BASA) with the Qatar and Turkish government which will result in the latter's airlines flying into Harare. A BASA is an agreement which two nations sign to allow international commercial air transport services between their territories.
This was revealed by Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Walter Mzembi during a tourism stakeholders meeting held recently where he castigated Government for its slow response to signing such agreements which are very critical to the tourism sector. The BASA with Qatar had been on the table for the past seven years despite the fact that Qatar Airways was among several airlines that had expressed a strong interest in flying to Zimbabwe.
Qatar Airways is seeking to link Zimbabwe to destinations in the Far and Middle East, Indian sub-continent, Europe and Australasia via the airline's hub in Doha. Zimbabwe Tourism Authority chief executive Mr Karikoga Kaseke said while a BASA was critical in the establishment of air service between two countries; it was not the only option. He said that countries could also go the route of a Memorandum of Understanding while the BASA is being concluded. "The alternative to a BASA is an MOU which can be drawn up and signed within a week or two while waiting for the BASA which takes longer to conclude but obviously not seven years, that is too long," he said.
This is not the first time that the Government has delayed in signing a BASA, it also took time to sign one with the United Arab Emirates to enable Emirates airlines to fly into the country. Emirates only managed to start operating between Harare and Dubai in February 2012 several years after it had expressed interest to establish service between the two cities. Apart from Emirates, Zimbabwe has welcomed the return of KLM, which last flew into Harare in 1999, Air Namibia, Egyptair, Linhas Aereas de Mocambique Airline.
Since 2009, Zimbabwe has been a major target of several airlines that are seeking to establish or re-establish air-links with Harare because of the centrality of Harare within the Southern African region and problems besetting the national airline, Air Zimbabwe which has prevented it from reclaiming it former routes. Air Zimbabwe resumed domestic flights in 2012 before introducing service on the Harare-Johannesburg route last year.
Several foreign airlines suspended flights into the country between 1998 and 2008 due to the economic challenges prevailing in the country at the time. Among them were Austrian Airlines, Swiss Air, Air India, Air France and TAP Air Portugal, Air Mauritius, Linhas Aereas de Mocambique Airline, Royal Swazi Airlines and Air Seychelles, Air Tanzania, Ghana Airways, Air Uganda and Air Cameroon.
STRUGGLING South African Airways (SAA) will report a smaller loss in the year to end-March despite the ravaging effects of the weaker rand on fuel costs, the state-owned airline’s CEO, Monwabisi Kalawe, said on Wednesday. This would continue the trend established last year of reducing losses, and boded well for the success of SAA’s long turnaround strategy. However, a further substantial cash injection by the state would be crucial to the airline’s return to profitability. Financial support could be announced as early as next week by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan in the 2014-15 budget.
Mr Kalawe told the National Council of Provinces select committee on public enterprises that the discussions taking place between the Department of Public Enterprises and the Treasury on a cash injection by the state were "constructive and positive". The recapitalisation is needed to strengthen the airline’s balance sheet, a key element in its long-term turnaround strategy, which has targeted 2017-18 as the year in which it will break even or make a small profit. At the moment, SAA has negative equity and is dependent on a R5bn state guarantee, which Mr Kalawe said only allowed SAA to borrow the money it needed at significant cost.
For the nine months to end-December, SAA saved R300m on a sustainable basis, of which R75m was savings on fuel costs, R83m on maintenance and R129m on overheads, Mr Kalawe said. This was in addition to the R1bn saved in 2012-13. "Unfortunately, all costs in rand terms have been adversely impacted by the dramatic weakening of the rand against the US dollar (17% year on year), which underlies around 65% of SAA’s costs, especially fuel," he said. Exchange rate volatility cost SAA more than R1bn this year.
SAA reported an after-tax loss of R1.2bn for the year to March 2013, on revenue of R25.5bn, bringing its cumulative loss over the past decade to more than R15bn. Mr Kalawe told MPs that in terms of the cost-reduction programme, SAA aimed to reduce the cost per available seat-kilometre 20%, from 7.04 US cents in 2012 to 5.63c. By the end of December this had been reduced to 6.26c. As part of a cost-savings exercise, SAA will end its flights to Buenos Aires next month. SAA’s turnaround strategy involves the divestment of the South African Travel Centre and the creation of a new company, South African Aviation Assets Group, which will be the holding company for all the state-owned airlines — SAA, SA Express and Mango, which will negotiate a network plan.
SAA spokesman Tlali Tlali said the rationale for the plan to create a new holding company was to harness the synergies and collective buying power of the three airlines. It would require the adoption by Parliament of enabling legislation. Corporate finance advisers Bowman Gilfillan would assist with the divestment. The new company would require an equity injection and SAA was awaiting a decision on this, Mr Kalawe said. Subsidiaries SAA Technical, Air Chefs, Voyager and SAA Cargo would be fully corporatised.
TUIfly in March and April 2014 plans to operate several charter services in Southern Africa, according to schedule listings. These intra-African charter flights will be operated by Boeing 737-800. Additional details on whether this is operating on behalf of local carriers is unknown.
Malawi Airlines, which in the previous week launched four international routes from Lilongwe, continued to expand its presence in Africa on 17 February, this time with a new service to Lusaka (LUN) in Zambia.
The 583-kilometre sector from Lilongwe (LLW) will be operated daily, through thrice-weekly non-stop services and four weekly flights via Blantyre in Malawi, utilising Ethiopian Airlines’ 69-seat Q400s. Malawi’s new route to the capital and largest city of Zambia will face direct competition from Kenya Airways’ daily flights and Proflight Zambia’s thrice-weekly services.
flyafrica.com (FZW, Harare Int'l) is set to take delivery of its first of five ex-CSA Czech Airlines (OK, Prague) B737-500s Skyliner Aviation has reported. The Zimbabwean start-up's first twinjet, T7-FAA (msn 26539), was recently spotted in an all-white livery prior to its handing over to flyafrica.
African low-cost airline fastjet PLC Tuesday said it will increase capacity on its new route between Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and Lusaka in Zambia after it met strong customer demand, and it predicted it would be providing a daily service on the route in the future.
The airline only launched the route, its second outside Tanzania, on February 3, although it had said at that time that it hoped to be able to increase capacity on the route in the future. It started with a twice-a-week service and will now add a third rotation service each Tuesday. In a statement, it said it has been experiencing high load factors on the route and several flights have been completely sold out.
"Our research suggested that this was going to be a successful route with high demand but initial passenger numbers and interest have exceeded expectations. We expect to add still more capacity on this route - our target is to operate daily," Chief Commercial Officer Richard Bodin said.
Fastjet added that its plans to establish a base in Zambia are progressing. It is incorporating a company in the country and has started the process of getting an air operating certificate in Lusaka.
The airline currently operates several routes within Tanzania under the fastjet brand. Its first "international" route was between Dar es Salaam and Johannesburg, while it added the Lusaka route this month. Fastjet shares were up 5.1% at 2.05 pence Tuesday morning.
A co-pilot on an Ethiopian Airlines flight bound for Rome hijacked the airliner early Monday morning and flew it to Geneva, Switzerland, looking for asylum. The man, an Ethiopian in his early 30s, was arrested when the plane landed at Geneva International Airport, police said. The 202 passengers and crew aboard the Boeing 767-300 were not harmed. It was a welcome outcome from the last time an Ethiopian Airlines was hijacked. In 1996, 125 people died after a hijacked Ethiopian Airlines crashed in the Indian Ocean after running out of fuel. In that case, the hijackers were seeking asylum in Australia.
In Monday's incident, Flight 702 had taken off from the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa and was headed to Rome, the airline said. The co-pilot took control of the plane when the pilot went to the restroom, said Swiss police spokesman Jean-Philippe Brandt. The co-pilot, who was not named, closed the fortified door, police said. Instead of Rome, he then steered the plane toward Geneva. At one point, as the plane hovered over Geneva's airspace several times, he asked the control tower:
"And you have to give us lastly permission on board for asylum." "Yes I know," the tower responded. "Sorry, but we are still waiting for the response. We are trying our best to get you the response, sir."
Eventually, the plane landed at Geneva International Airport. "I will be coming out via the window," the co-pilot told the control tower. He then escaped through the cockpit window using a rope, and surrendered to police, Brandt said. He was unarmed, authorities said. "His act has been motivated by the fact that he feels threatened in his county and wants to make an asylum claim in Switzerland," Swiss police spokesman Philippe Grangean said. The passengers were not threatened or put in danger, police said. Ethiopian Airlines, in a statement, would only say the plane was "forced to proceed" to the airport. During the incident, Geneva International Airport was shut down. It reopened later Monday morning. While rare, a pilot hijacking an airline is not unheard of. In 1998, an Air China captain, reportedly disgruntled with life in China, hijacked his passenger jet to Taiwan.
Lusaka-based regional airline Proflight Zambia flew the equivalent distance of travelling around the world every week last year. The airline flew a total of 2,275,204 kilometres during 2013, enough to fly the 40,075 kilometres circumference of the globe 56 times, or more than once round the earth every week. “For the first time in Proflight Zambia’s 23 year history we broke through the 2 million kilometre mark last year, demonstrating that our strategy of slow, steady growth is starting to pay off,” said Proflight Director of Government and Industry Affairs Capt. Philip Lemba.
“These latest figures also show that Proflight is starting to achieve the size and critical mass necessary to run an efficient and credible regional airline with Lusaka as its hub,” he added. Flying passengers more than 2 million kilometres meant 8,830 hours of time in the air. Some 136,206 passenger journeys were made during the year on Proflight – again a record for the airline, which increased its domestic route network to ten with the addition of its Mongu service in November, and added its first two international routes during the year, from Lusaka to Lilongwe in Malawi, and to Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania.
In total some 9,490 “sectors” – from one airport to the next - were flown during the year. On a quirkier note, the Proflight passengers consumed 21,842 muffins during their flights as part of the airline’s complimentary on-board catering services. That’s 2.184 tonnes of muffins: 18 times the weight of Douglas the baby hippo – which Proflight helped fly to safety in March after he was abandoned by his mother in the Lower Zambezi. Douglas weighed 120kg when Proflight airlifted him, but will be up to 3.6 tonnes when fully grown.
While 2013 was a record year for Proflight Zambia, the airline is not resting on its laurels and plans further expansion during 2014, new regional routes from Lusaka to Johannesburg, Lubumbashi, Harare and Tete being evaluated. Meanwhile, according to a recent article by Routes Online website, Proflight was the largest operator in Zambia for the year to November 31, 2013, flying 23.4 percent of the passengers arriving or departing from Lusaka’s Kenneth Kaunda International Airport.
As Africa's tourism sector gears up, demand for air travel is also rising. The continent will see air traffic growth soar 5.7% annually over the next two decades, beating the global average of 5%, according to estimates by commercial air-plane maker Boeing. In addition, air cargo will also grow 6.6% annually over the next 20 years, compared to the global average of 5%, while the continent's air fleet will rise 4% each year during the period, again beating world average of 3.6%, the plane-maker forecast.
In all, the African continent will take deliveries of 1,070 new aircraft with a combined market value of USD 130 billion by 2032, as business and leisure air travel remains at elevated levels in the region. "Growth to and from other emerging markets is expected to lead the way, as airlines both in Africa and other emerging market regions are planning to increase inter-regional connectivity," Boeing said in its forecast for African air travel. Europeans will remain strong visitors to Africa, as business and leisure ties improve and African states make a more concerted effort to improve their air links to other economies.
Africa has also seen a 36% increase in arrivals from the United States over the past five years, with nearly one million US visitors in each of the past three years, according to Office of Travel & Tourism Industries for the International Trade Administration at the US Department of Commerce. "In fact, for the last three years, the Africa/Middle East region has accounted for nearly 10% of the overseas travelers," said Ron Erdmann, deputy director of the US Department of Commerce in a report. "This is a peak for the region, which has seen its share increase four percentage points since 2006."
More than 500,000 Chinese tourists visited Egypt, South Africa, Ethiopia, Algeria and Kenya in 2012, as Africa also emerges as a major tourist destination for other emerging markets. "Prospects for intra-African growth are also rising. Airlines in the region are exploring new business models and development of intra-regional hubs," Boeing said in its report. "Growth in pan-African airline networks can bring the efficiency of air travel to the continent's transportation system. The flexibility of aviation networks and the relatively low cost per network kilometre make aviation infrastructure investment very attractive compared to investment in other modes."
While Africa is home to some of the diverse and breath-taking sceneries on the planet, including deserts, rivers, savannahs and wildlife, it has not tapped its true potential. The continent accounts for 20.4% of the world's land area, but receives only about 3% of world tourism receipts and 5% of tourist arrivals.
"To maximize Africa's tourism potential, critical investments are needed in key infrastructure sectors, e.g., transport, energy, water and telecommunications," according to professor Mthuli Ncube,chief economistand vice president,African DevelopmentBank Group, adding that intra-African tourism offers some low-hanging fruits to unlock revenues.
"It is significant that on average, African citizens require visas to visit 60% of African countries. Loosening of visa restrictions would go a long way towards boosting business and leisure traveler flows, thereby contributing to the economic and social development of local economies and communities."
But the continent's prominence as a tourism destination is growing. Africa's international tourism arrivals shot up to 63.6 million in 2012, compared to 37 million a decade ago. Meanwhile, tourism receipts stood at USD 43.6 billion in 2012, with key destinations such as Morocco, Egypt, Madagascar, Seychelles and South African leading the way. Most crucially, travel and tourism employed 8.2 million people in Africa, highlighting its strength as a strong job creator.
The International Air Transportation Association says that African airlines international air travel rose 5.5% in 2013, slower than 2012 growth of 7.5%, primarily due to slow down in South Africa and political turmoil in North Africa. "Overall, the demand backdrop for carriers in the region is strong, with robust economic growth of local economies and continued development of internationally trading industries. But some parts of the continent have shown weakness, including the South African economy, which has recently experienced a slowdown," IATA said in its latest report.
"There has also been some slowdown in regional trade growth. These developments have placed downward pressure on growth in demand for international air travel, which slowed in H2 2013 compared to earlier in the year." But there has been a concerted effort to improve the continent's tourism infrastructure, from the 40,000 new hotel rooms being built in the continent, to the improved air connections from Gulf, European and African airlines such as Ethiopian, South African airways. Air travel is also hindered by two key factors. First is safety: In 2012, African airlines had one accident (with a Western-built jet aircraft) for every 270,000 flights. Globally, the industry average was one accident for every five million flights, according to IATA data.
Secondly, heavy taxes on fuels, tickets and lack of liberalized routes is holding back the development of low-cost carriers. "Aviation connectivity links the continent's businesses to global markets. And that generates economic opportunities. But, if aviation charges and taxes are too high, its ability to be an economic catalyst is compromised," IATA said.
The CEO of Ethiopian Airlines Tewolde Gebremariam has warned that Gulf carriers could eat us for their lunch unless there is a concerted effort by African airlines to get increase market share from the fast-growing continent.
Speaking at the Aviation Club in London, Gebremariam said “We have tremendous competition coming from the Gulf carriers. Dubai is only three and half hours away from Addis, Abu Dhabi and Doha the same. They have been doing very well and now Africa is also in their centre of strategy. “We see the centre of gravity moving from Europe to the Middle East and especially the Gulf.” He said that Europe’s failure to respond to the threat by the Gulf carriers had led to this change. “Europe has been the oldest and most successful for hub and spoke operations with airports like Heathrow, Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Paris. For passengers travelling from south and north America to Europe, Africa and Middle East and Asia the only way was through Europe, but now that hub and spoke is moving to the Middle East and unfortunately and inadvertently European governments and politicians are helping them move the centre of gravity to the hubs in the Middle East by making it very difficult for airlines to operate in Europe.
“Taxation is one factor, airport congestion is another,” Gebremariam said. “As a result airlines are finding it very difficult to fly to Europe. Heathrow is one of the most congested airports. Ethiopian wants to fly to Heathrow twice a day, but we are only able to fly six flights a week. We can’t even get a daily service. A third runway at Heathrow has been discussed for years yet Dubai was able to build Dubai World Central Airport with six runways in short order.
“Frankfurt Airport has put a policeman in the ATC tower to ensure no flight leaves after 10 or 11 o’clock at night, emission trading is another problem for all of us. Labour unions are very difficult for European carriers and they also have to compete with the Gulf carriers and small African carriers like us also. The tax regime in the Gulf is different – no tax at all - but knowing this again, there is no remedy for small carriers in Africa and also Europe, so inadvertently Europe is helping the Middle East carriers. Gebremariam said that the Gulf countries are treating aviation as a strategic national asset. “The contribution of aviation to social economic development is recognized and it is the pride of governments, but other governments and even in Africa are not recognizing this unfortunately.
We are growing very fast but we have a serious challenge when considering that 80% of traffic between Africa and the rest of the world is controlled by non-African carriers – All of us - Kenya Airways, Ethiopian, South African, Egyptair, Air Morocco, TAG Angola, CAM Air, Rwandair, Arik Air and so on –put together - we only have 20% of the market. This is a big, big challenge if we don’t do something to at least maintain 50% of the market. Otherwise we are going to be swallowed and they are going to have us for their lunch.”
SAA plans to add new routes to its international network, including Russia, through existing and new partnerships with other airlines. According to a recent Government Gazette, the airline has applied for a number of new routes as well as more frequencies on some of its existing regional routes. These include Moscow, Russia; Asuncion, Paraguay; Lomé, Togo; Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago; Montevideo, Uruguay; Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso; Praia and Ilha do Sol, Cape Verde; Ndjamena, Chad; Malabo, Equatorial Guinea; Jakarta, Indonesia; Kingston, Jamaica; and Abuja, Nigeria. The introduction dates for all routes range from April to July this year.
SAA Spokesperson, Tlali Tlali, told Tourism Update: “SAA has stated it would be suspending some of its international routes in an effort to increase profitability. This is indeed still the case. However, SAA still has to have a presence on the international stage, which will be done by expanding and/or entering into new codeshare arrangements and not by a direct service by SAA. At this stage certain markets do not warrant the introduction of direct services by SAA and therefore we have taken the decision to serve these on a codeshare-only basis.”
He says that, in terms of the International Air Services Act, for a South African carrier to be able to serve a specific destination, be it in its own right or on a codeshare basis, a carrier has to hold the underlying traffic rights. “It is SAA’s intention to expand certain of its existing codeshare arrangements and/or enter into new codeshares. Due to discussions that are still ongoing, we are not able to advise who the future codeshare partners will be,” says Tlali.
In Africa, SAA has also applied for additional rights to some destinations it already serves. These include seven return flights a week to Accra, Ghana; five return flights per week to both Blantyre and Lilongwe, Malawi; and two return flights per week to Lagos, Nigeria.
An Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 767-300 pushing back for its return trip back to Addis Ababa via Lusaka at Harare International Airport. Ethiopian Airlines uses a mix of 787's and 767's on this route.
An Egyptair Boeing 737-800 parked up for the day awaiting its evening departure back to Cairo via Dar es Salaam. This route is operated four times a week departing Harare every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.
New start-up Malawian Airlines which is partly owned by Ethiopian Airlines has finally received its second aircraft, a Boeing 737-800 seen above. The airline will operate both domestically and regionally out of Lilongwe to Blantyre and Harare which are currently underway as well as launching routes to Johannesburg, Lusaka and Dar es Salaam beginning next week. The airline also operates a 78 seater Bombardier Q400.
FASTJET CEO Ed Winters has called on the government to do more to create a level playing field for airlines to operate in South Africa. He said Africa should be looking at ways to deregulate the market, as happened in Europe, as the current regulatory impediments and bureaucracy were hampering the growth of the industry.
"In the ’80s and ’90s Europe used to have loads of loss-making state airlines, guzzling money from the taxpayer and distorting the marketplace. Now they have a thriving, healthy and competitive aviation industry." The company has said that regional routes from South Africa to sub-Saharan destinations lack effective competition and are underserviced and overpriced. "The level of protectionism that we see is incredible, not just in South Africa, but throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Almost every country is protectionist and so keen to continue subsiding their loss-making state airlines."
Mr Winters said South African Airways (SAA) was overstaffed compared to international benchmarks. "Not by small numbers but by a factor of four or five. It is a huge employer."Speaking at SAA’s recent results presentation Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba said that the airline would not consider retrenching staff as part of the long-term plan to return the ailing state airline back to profitability. SAA employs 11,500 staff.
Mr Winters said fastjet remained interested in setting up a South African operation. "We want to form a company in South Africa to operate out of Johannesburg." This would be done in compliance with all local regulations, especially the local ownership rules which require a domestic airline to be 75% owned by local individuals or entities before it can operate scheduled domestic flights. He said the company was watching with interest the court case between Comair and Safair over the local ownership rules and whether this would set new precedents around regulation.
In terms of the low-cost airline’s new route from Dar es Salaam to Lusaka, launched at the beginning of the month, Mr Winters said it was already performing above expectations. The route was proving to be extremely popular, especially for traders, as it cut down a 24-road trip to a two-hour flight. Its Tanzanian operations had one of their best months in December.
When on the 03rd of March RwandAir’s latest acquisition, a Bombardier Q400 dual class turboprop aircraft will join the fleet in Kigali, a new technical support agreement will just have come into effect, which the airline signed a few weeks ago with Ethiopian Airlines for the line maintenance of this aircraft type.
The technical support agreement was signed by RwandAir’s Chief Executive Officer Mr. John Mirenge and Ethiopian Airlines CEO Mr. Tewolde Gebremariam. Under the agreement Ethiopian will provide technical support service to RwandAir as of 01st of March for line maintenance up to A-Check level and component exchange support for the new Bombardier Q400 aircraft, an aircraft type also flown by Ethiopian Airlines.
Ethiopian’s MRO Services will base a technical team in Kigali to carry out the day to day maintenance on site while getting additional support from their main base in Addis Ababa should the need arise. John Mirenge said: ‘Rwandair recognizes the important role Ethiopian Airlines has played as a pioneer MRO provider in Africa over the years thus it was imperative that we explore the opportunity for MRO partnership. Agreements such as the momentous one signed here today further strengthen the bond between RwandAir and Ethiopian Airlines while continuing to show the world that the African aviation industry remains a vital catalyst for African economic growth and advancement’.
Ethiopian’s MRO has a facility certified by both the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and the European Aviation Safety Agency and has MRO capabilities in Boeing and Bombardier aircraft. RwandAir has taken advantage of having the same MRO servicing their two Boeing 737-800NG’s, their two Boeing 737-700NG’s as well as their brand new Q-400 NextGen due to arrive on 03rd of March.
This new agreement builds on the already strong relationship RwandAir enjoys with Ethiopian Airlines through the ongoing pilot training program RwandAir pilots go though as well engineer training which has seen RwandAir engineering staff graduate from the Ethiopian Airlines training programme. RwandAir is, according to John Mirenge, also on course to add more destinations over and above Douala within 2014 and will continue to add more aircraft to reach their goal of a fleet of 17 by 2020.
South African Airways recently announced a new codeshare agreement with Virgin Australia. SAA flies daily between Johannesburg and Perth and this new partnership offers SAA customers expanded access across Australia to domestic destinations such as Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide.
The codeshare tickets went on sale on 7 February, for travel from 11 February. Virgin Australia has been an interline partner of SAA since July 2010, when the two airlines had a commercial agreement to handle those customers travelling on both airlines. SAA is now expanding this relationship into a codeshare agreement.
Customers will also have the benefit of through-checking their baggage and receiving boarding passes from Johannesburg to their end destination in Australia, and onto any destination in Africa served by SAA when flying from Australia. Voyager members will continue to earn their miles for their entire itinerary.
SA Airlink invites applications from all population groups for looking for Flight Attendant vacancies in Johannesburg. SA CM licence and unlicenced candidates are welcome to apply. SA Airlink Ltd is an airline based in Johannesburg, South Africa. It is privately owned and has developed into South Africa’s first feeder network aimed at linking the smaller towns, regional centers and hubs throughout South Africa.
Applications are invited from dynamic candidates who:
Are able to work on their own and without supervision, are physically fit
Are well groomed, have weight proportional to height, minimum of 1.55m and not taller than 1.68m, are in possession of a Matric/Grade 12 Certificate
Have good customer care and communication in English skills, are able to undergo an extremely intensive training programme of approximately six weeks, a series of assessments, interviews, security check, a medical examination, psychometric and psychological evaluation, have the ability to swim
Are South African nationals and holders of valid South African identity documents
Reside within a reasonable distance of the airport, have transport
Are between 21 and 28 years of age
Your ONE-PAGE CV must clearly state and include the following:
A clear full length photograph
Certified copy of Matric /Grade 12 or equivalent qualification.
Any additional qualification
A minimum pass in English on the Higher Grade D or Standard Grade C
Direct telephone contact details and e-mail address
A brief employment history and letter of motivation
How to apply:
Interested candidates who meet the above requirements should forward their CV’s by post (only postal CV’s will be accepted) to:
The Cabin Services Manager
PO Box 7495
1622 (Reference no: FA- JNB – 0214)
Closing Date: 19 February 2014.
Please take note: Only short-listed candidates will be contacted. Applicants who have not received a letter of acknowledgement within three months of the closing date, can assume that they were not short listed for an interview and are hereby thanked for their application. E-mails, faxes or hand deliveries will not be accepted.
Visa facilitation and air connectivity are key areas to address in order to fully seize Africa’s steadily rising tourism performance and foster sustainable development in the region concluded the 5th Investment and Tourism Business Forum for Africa (INVESTOUR). 12 African Tourism Ministers attended the 2013 edition of INVESTOUR, an initiative held every year on the occasion of the Madrid International Tourism Fair (FITUR). (Madrid, Spain, 23 January 2014).
With international tourist arrivals growing by 6% in the region for the second consecutive year, Africa is one of the fastest growing tourism regions in the world. Between 2000 and 2013, international tourist arrivals more than doubled (from 26 million to 56 million). By 2030, UNWTO forecasts this figure to reach 134 million.
INVESTOUR, organized by UNWTO, FITUR and Casa Africa, promotes Africa´s tourism potential and the sector’s importance as a catalyst of socio-economic development through partnerships with Portuguese and Spanish tourism companies. Attending the Forum were the Ministers of Tourism of Algeria, Benin, Cape Verde, Cote D´Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Mozambique, Senegal, Seychelles, Tunisia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
“Tourism is of rising importance to the African economies. Today we will focus on three barriers still hampering the full potential of tourism in the region: air connectivity, visa facilitation and hotel investment” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, opening the event. “56 visas to visit 56 countries is not acceptable. Only with collective efforts can we successfully address such barriers and continue to promote tourism in Africa as a tool for development while stimulating new business opportunities in Spain and Portugal”, he added.
This year, a record of 134 tourism initiatives from 32 African countries and 40 Spanish and Portuguese companies gathered at INVESTOUR. A significant number of the participating projects seek to develop sustainable tourism offers in countries such as Ethiopia, the Ivory Coast, Kenya and Rwanda while several other projects sought partners for the creation or renewal of the hotel infrastructure.
Africa is not ready for airlines such as Fastjet, the brainchild of EasyJet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou, says the head of the continent’s leading carrier. Ethiopian Airlines chief executive Tewolde Gebremariam told the Aviation Club in London yesterday: “We have a different view of the low-cost model in Africa because cross-border traffic in Africa is fragmented.”
Gebremariam said: “Low-cost carriers are based on utilising aircraft 10 times a day, then unit costs come down. It is very difficult to do that in Africa. “Point to point will be challenging on the continent [because] 60% of market segments in Africa have less than 50 passengers per day.” Fastjet began operating as a low-cost carrier in November 2012, based in Tanzania and also serving South Africa and Zambia.
Co-founder Haji-Ioannou has plans to turn Fastjet into a pan-African carrier But Gebremariam said: “There are other constraints. One is traffic rights between countries. “The low-cost model could be perfect within a country’s borders, within Nigeria or South Africa for example. But the issue of cross-border traffic rights is a big bottleneck.”
He added: “The low-cost model should transform costs. But in Africa low-cost and full-service carriers pay the same not just for fuel but for [using] the airport. It is very difficult.” Gebremariam was also critical of European governments, especially the UK’s. He said: “We see aviation’s centre of gravity moving from Europe to the Gulf and European governments and politicians are helping the [Gulf carriers] by making it very difficult for airlines to operate in Europe. “Tax is one factor. Airport congestion is another. Ethiopian Airlines wants to fly to Heathrow twice a day but we can’t even go daily. We operate six flights a week. “A third runway has been discussed for years. Dubai just got on and built six runways.”
British Airways (operated by Comair) has advised that it will no longer be operating flights between OR Tambo International Airport and Maputo International Airport from February 8. Since launching in May 2013, the route has proved to be commercially unviable for the airline. Iain Meaker, Commercial Distribution Executive for Comair, says: “After much consideration and review we have decided to withdraw the Maputo route to ensure the airline remains sustainable.” Passengers already booked with BA Comair will be re-accommodated by the airline on SAA at no additional cost. Un-ticketed bookings will be cancelled.