Africa Weekly Aviation Trails: Week 25, 2024 Highlights


(Posted 25th June 2024)


In week 25, aviation professionals converged in Windhoek, Namibia, to foster and enhance air connectivity across the continent. New intra- and inter-continental routes were introduced. In Côte d’Ivoire, the aviation industry celebrated the emergence of the first black woman commercial pilot. Ethiopia received significant recognition with an award. These highlights, along with numerous other developments, were unveiled in the previous week. Read on to discover more about these exciting advancements below.



From June 19 to 21, the Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts in Windhoek, Namibia, became the epicenter of African and global aviation as stakeholders gathered for the AviaDev Africa 2024 conference. This premier event, now in its 8th edition, saw a record 560 participants converge to drive innovation, discuss strategic growth, and enhance air connectivity across the continent. Aligned with the African Union‘s Agenda 2063 and the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) initiative, AviaDev is dedicated to fostering development and collaboration within the African aviation sector. The 9th edition (2025) of AviaDev will be hosted in Zanzibar, Tanzania, in collaboration with the Zanzibar Airports Authority and the Zanzibar Commission for Tourism.

The Kenya Space Agency (KSA) recently held its 2nd Edition Expo and Conference, themed “Space Technologies for Societal Benefits.” This event aimed to enhance the utility of space technologies and their application in supporting national socioeconomic development and addressing societal challenges. Over three days, the conference promoted, coordinated, and regulated space-related activities in Kenya, striving to make the complex topic of space science and technology relevant and accessible to the citizens.


African Aviation: Projections and Statistics.

Airbus predicts a 4.1% growth in global air traffic over the next 20 years, leading to a demand for 1,180 new aircraft by 2043. Africa’s aviation sector is expected to significantly contribute to this growth, with a projected 3.3% increase in real GDP, surpassing the global average of 2.6%. According to Airbus’ Global Services Forecast, Africa will need an additional 15,000 pilots, 20,000 technicians, and 24,000 cabin crew to accommodate the rising air travel demand. Key unserved routes identified include cities such as Lagos, Cape Town, Nairobi, Dakar, and Douala.

In 2023, South Africa saw a significant rise in international tourist arrivals, reaching 8.5 million visitors—a 49% increase compared to the previous year. December 2023 alone accounted for 3.5 million travelers. O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg handled an average of 251 flights daily, with the Cape Town route being the most traveled, boasting around 300 weekly flights, constituting 17% of the airport’s weekly departures. Between 2022 and 2023, O.R. Tambo managed a total of 46,016,890 passengers. In the 2023/24 period, the airport handled 7,054,616 passengers (3,502,027 arrivals and 3,552,589 departures). To boost its travel and tourism sector, South Africa offers visa-free access to citizens from 71 countries and e-visa facilities to another 20 countries, simplifying entry procedures and attracting more visitors.


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

Ethiopian Airlines has partnered with Anuvu, a leading provider of global entertainment solutions for mobility markets and high-speed inflight connectivity, to upgrade its inflight entertainment services. This collaboration aims to significantly enhance the passenger experience by offering the latest in entertainment options during flights.

Uganda has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce & Industry ???? ?????? ??????? ?????????, led by its chairman Abdallah Sultan Al Owais, for the construction of Kidepo International Airport. This new airport will be Uganda’s third international airport, following Entebbe International Airport and the under-construction Kabalega International Airport in the oil-rich Hoima district. Construction is set to begin in August 2024.

The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) and Airbus Aircraft hosted a two-day national aviation safety summit, during which they signed an MoU between KCAA and the Aircraft Accident Investigation Department (AAID). They also launched the National Aviation Safety Plan (NASP), which aligns with the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) Global Aviation Safety Plan (GASP) to enhance aviation safety measures.


Routes and Airline Connectivity.

Air Arabia Maroc recently inaugurated a new air base at Rabat-Salé Airport, launching new routes both domestically and to key European cities. According to General Manager Laila Mechbal, the airline introduced 14 weekly international flights and three additional domestic flights between Rabat and Agadir, totaling seven weekly flights. The international routes include five flights to Paris, three to Barcelona, two to Brussels, two to Basel, and two to Istanbul.

On June 7, 2024, ITA Airways launched its first commercial flights from Rome Fiumicino to Kotoka International Airport in Accra, Ghana. This marks the airline’s first destination in sub-Saharan Africa. Operated by an Airbus A321neo with Business, Premium Economy, and Economy cabins, the route will initially run three times a week, increasing to four times in July 2024.

Spain’s Iberojet, part of the Ávoris group, resumed direct flights to Mauritius on June 17, 2024. The service, offered by tour operator Travelplan, utilizes Airbus A350-900 aircraft with a capacity of 432 passengers in a single class. The route features weekly flights on Thursdays and will be active until September 23, 2024.

Ryanair – Europe’s Favourite Airline unveiled a new route from Newcastle, UK to Marrakesh, Morocco. Starting on October 27, 2024, the twice-weekly flights will offer one-way trips to Morocco starting at €59.99.

Ethiopian Airlines is set to increase its flights to Zurich, Switzerland. Currently flying between Addis Ababa and Zurich five times a week, the airline plans to offer daily flights starting October 27, 2024. The additional frequencies will operate via Milan Malpensa Airport.

TAAG-Linhas Aereas de Angola has increased its frequency to Lagos from Luanda, now offering daily flights. Previously operating five weekly flights, the route now runs daily, utilizing Boeing 737-700 aircraft with a capacity of 120 passengers (102 in economy and 12 in business class).

Kenya Airways has resumed direct flights between Nairobi and Maputo, Mozambique, after a five-year hiatus. The airline now offers three weekly flights on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. This new route complements Kenya Airways’ existing service to Nampula, Mozambique, further strengthening its regional presence.

Rumors suggest that Uganda Airlines will soon begin flights to London, according to the uganda high commission london. Having secured departure and landing slots at London Heathrow Airport, the airline has yet to commence trips to the UK despite acquiring two Airbus A330-800s. In 2019, over 84,000 passengers traveled directly between Entebbe and London, making the route underserved.


Airline Fleets and ACMI’s.

Astral Aviation and Avmax Group have announced the completion of two significant transactions. The first involves the purchase and lease-back of a Boeing 767-200 freighter (MSN 22217), which has been part of Astral Aviation Ltd‘s fleet since 2020. The second transaction is the dry lease of a Boeing 737-400F (MSN 27082), a new addition that aligns with Astral’s fleet optimization goals.

Nigerian carrier Overland Airways Limited, based in Lagos, has taken delivery of the second of three Embraer E175 aircraft. The airline made the order on November 15, 2021, during the Dubai Airshow, with an option for three additional aircraft in a transaction valued at $299.4 million.

Libreville-based airline Fly Gabon has taken delivery of its first aircraft, a brand-new ATR 72-600 from Toulouse, France (registered TR-LJT, MSN 1656). The airline, which will become Gabon’s new national carrier, is supported by Afrijet Business Service. A second ATR 72-600 is expected soon.

Algerian operator Tassili Travail Aérien – ?????? ????? ??????, a Sonatrach Group subsidiary specializing in aerial work, has received a fleet of Air Tractor, Inc. 802 aircraft to bolster the nation’s firefighting capabilities. The operator is set to receive a total of six Air Tractor 802 aircraft, each capable of carrying and releasing 3,000 liters of water. These aircraft will be allocated for forest fire control during the summer season and will be strategically stationed across bases in Béjaïa, Chlef, and Annaba to ensure coverage of high-risk wildfire areas.

Ethiopian Airlines, Africa’s leading carrier by both passenger numbers and fleet size, is set to introduce Africa’s first Airbus A350-1000. This move is part of the airline’s efforts to upgrade its fleet with the latest aircraft technologies to meet the rising demand for air travel in Africa and beyond.

Kenya’s aircraft operator, Aircraft Leasing Service (ALS), based at Nairobi’s Wilson Airport, has added a new Embraer ERJ145XR to its fleet. Founded in 1985, ALS offers scheduled, charter, and ACMI services both regionally and internationally.

The Nigerian legislature has endorsed the sale of three presidential jets in a move to cut excessive spending on fleet maintenance. The current fleet, maintained by the Presidential Air Fleet (PAF), an arm of the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA), includes six airplanes and four helicopters. The fixed-wing aircraft are a Boeing 737 Boeing Business Jet (BBJ), a Gulfstream Aerospace G550, a Gulfstream GV, two Falcon 7x, and one Challenger CL605. Additionally, two new aircraft were recommended for purchase for use by the president and vice-president.


Aviation Infrastructure and Financing.

The Zamfara State Government in Nigeria has commenced the construction of the new Gusau International Airport, with a flag-off ceremony held on June 20, 2024, supported by the federal government. The project includes a 3.4 km primary runway, a modern terminal facility, an air traffic control tower, and all supporting amenities such as access roads, car parking, and sewage systems.

Airports Company South Africa has launched a project to upgrade South African airports with biometric technology. The project, awarded to the French company IDEMIA, aims to implement a Passenger Flow Facilitation (PFF) solution across nine airports. By leveraging facial recognition technology, the initiative will streamline immigration processes, reduce transaction times, and enhance security through biometric and digital identity technology.

Tanzania’s Minister of Finance reported that the construction of Msalato International Airport’s terminal buildings has reached 22.6% completion, while the runway infrastructure is at 56.9%. The airport, occupying approximately 45 square kilometers, is intended to serve Dodoma, the Tanzanian capital, and will be located about 14 kilometers north of Dodoma’s central business district.

Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) is set to undergo a major expansion with the addition of a terminal capable of handling 20 million travelers annually. This expansion is part of the airport’s Medium Term Investment Plan, spanning three years, aimed at increasing capacity, improving service standards, and enhancing global competitiveness.

Qatar Airways has acquired a 60% majority stake in Rwanda’s new $1.3 billion Bugesera International Airport, currently under construction on the outskirts of Kigali. The 130,000 square meter airport, with a capacity to handle 8 million passengers annually, is expected to relieve the capacity constraints of Kigali International Airport. This investment follows Qatar Airways’ acquisition of a 49% stake in RwandAir Ltd.

NW Capital Management has been awarded a $64 million contract by Congo Airways (CAA) following an international Request for Proposal (RFP) tender on May 16. The contract is for the lease purchase of up to four Airbus A320 aircraft.


Aviation Accidents/Incidents

A Tunisian Army helicopter crashed under unknown circumstances while attempting to land in the Gafsa district, resulting in the tragic loss of one crew member and serious injury to another.

In Chad, operations at N’Djamena International Airport were temporarily suspended following a massive explosion on Tuesday night at a nearby ammunition depot. The explosion sent projectiles onto the runway, forcing its closure. The incident resulted in nine fatalities and 46 injuries.

In an unfortunate incident on Friday, June 21, a passenger at gate A12 of King Shaka International Airport (DUR) in Durban experienced breathing difficulties while preparing to board FlySafair flight FA279 to Johannesburg. Despite a swift medical response, the passenger passed away. This incident was confirmed by Airports Company South Africa (ACSA).

British Airways flight BA 74, scheduled to depart Lagos for Heathrow, London, at 10:50 p.m. on Wednesday, encountered a technical problem. The flight was initially rescheduled and ultimately canceled, causing significant disruption for passengers traveling from Lagos to London.


In other news:

Africa’s largest aviation training center, the Ethiopian Aviation University, has recently graduated nearly 800 aviation professionals from eight African countries and one from Asia. These graduates completed various programs, including Pilot Training, Aviation Maintenance, Cabin Crew, and Commercial Training. Since its establishment in 1956 as the Ethiopian Aviation Academy, the institution, now upgraded to a university level, has been offering diverse aviation courses to both local and international trainees.

Congratulations are in order for Aya Gertrude KONAN, the first black female pilot for a commercial airline in Côte d’Ivoire. Formerly a flight attendant, Aya currently serves as a first officer at Air Côte d’Ivoire, piloting the Airbus A320. Her journey to the cockpit has been remarkable. In 2014, Air Côte d’Ivoire launched a competition to train young Ivorians for aviation careers, including piloting. Konan stood out among 1,500 applicants and was one of only 15 chosen candidates, the only female among them. After rigorous training in her home country and in France, she made history as Ivory Coast’s first female civilian airline pilot trained by the state.

On June 19, the Ghanaian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced a deal with the Kenyan government to scrap the Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) fees. Kenya has removed the USD 30 ETA fee that it introduced in December 2023, reciprocating Ghana’s visa exemption for Kenyans.

The European Commission has extended the ban on Libyan aircraft entering European airspace or landing at its airports until further notice, citing safety reasons.

The Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) is seeking a new CEO and key airport managers for Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) and Wilson Airport, both located in Nairobi. KAA has been under an interim CEO since October 26, 2023, following the Kenyan government’s revocation of the previous CEO’s contract due to deteriorating services at several airports and persistent power outages affecting flight operations at the primary airport.

Ethiopian Airlines was crowned the winner of the “Best Entertainment in Africa” and “Best Wi-Fi in Africa” awards yet again at the APEX (Airline Passenger Experience Association) Passenger Choice Awards 2024 in Istanbul, Turkey.

A Lagos industrial court has ordered Nigerian carrier Arik Air to pay Mrs. Andreia Perdigao, a former employee, $24,000 in damages following what was termed as unjustified termination and unpaid eight months’ salary arrears. Her income for the eight months was calculated at $21,466.64, based on her monthly pay of $2,683.33.

The government of the United Republic of Tanzania has proposed changes to the fees for renewing Air Operators Certificates (AOC) to operate planes. According to the national budget presentation for the next fiscal year by the Minister of Finance, the AOC fee will be reduced to 600 US dollars per company, instead of the same amount per aircraft per year.


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