Analysis for Africa
15-Nov-2013 2:28 PM
Emirates Airline carried 15% additional passengers in the first half of 2013/2014 compared to a year ago. The growth in volume has been led by Europe and the Middle East while Australia has seen the highest percentage growth. Saudi Arabia, the UK and Thailand have received some of the largest capacity injections. India and the UK remain Emirates' two largest markets based on seat capacity, but Saudi Arabia has overtaken Germany as the third-largest while Australia overtook the US, and Thailand overtook South Africa.
In terms of the rate of growth, the standouts were Portugal, Vietnam and Zambia – all with 100%-plus growth, albeit from a low base. But Emirates saw 40-50% growth in seven other countries, including Australia, Saudi Arabia and France.
Overall, 15% passenger growth and 16% capacity growth for an airline the size of Emirates is a considerable achievement. Full year capacity growth, however, is likely to be closer to 12%, making 2013/2014 one of the slower years at Emirates in recent times. Asia will be the largest market for growth, followed by Europe and the Middle East.
12-Nov-2013 5:36 PM
On 12-Aug-2013 a historic milestone rolls around, when Etihad Airways turns 10 years old. The carrier, which proudly advertises itself as the fastest growing airline in the history of aviation, has helped usher in a revolution that has reshaped the global airline industry.
Etihad Airways was born as the national airline of the UAE via a Royal Decree issued in Jul-2003. Less than six months later it began operations, with just one aircraft. It launched itself in the midst of a major shake-up of the Middle East’s market and with a mission to support the development of Abu Dhabi as a business and leisure destination and help realise the transformation of the city into a global hub.
A decade on, Eithad Airways has achieved its objectives. Through a combination of rapid organic growth, aggressive partnership development and innovative equity acquisitions, the carrier has become one of the headline players not only in the Middle East, but in global aviation. Few carriers can boast such success in such a small amount of time. Fewer still can claim to be part of a revolution that is helping to change how the world connects.
4-Nov-2013 2:00 PM
South African Airways (SAA) faces a pressing need to start moving forward with its new strategic plan, which includes pursuing expansion within Africa and cutting unprofitable long-haul destinations such as Buenos Aires. The new business plan, which was initially completed in Apr-2013, represents a critical step in finally fixing the long floundering carrier. But SAA has not yet implemented any major components of the plan although most of the pieces have secured the required layers of approval.
Under the new strategic plan, SAA will increase operations within Africa while cutting unprofitable long-haul routes and potentially hand more domestic routes to low-cost subsidiary Mango. SAA could also start operating alongside new partner Etihad on the Johannesburg-Abu Dhabi route, using the capacity freed up from axing highly unprofitable long-haul services, as it increases its reliance on partnerships to provide a stronger network beyond Africa.
The continued delays in implementing the long-term turnaround plan are costly as SAA continues to bleed. It needs to move quickly to build on its position in the intra-Africa market, with more flights from South Africa and a possible new base in West Africa, as competition within Africa is starting to intensify. SAA also needs to finally move forward in acquiring new widebody aircraft, which were identified in the plan as essential for a sustainable long-haul operation.
3-Nov-2013 11:58 PM
For all their success elsewhere, the Gulf carriers and Turkish Airlines are looking rather thin in China. This is not by their choosing. Emirates, Etihad, Qatar and Turkish have reached the limit of air rights and slots made available to them.
All are ready to expand, and Turkish has even said it has service to five cities ready to launch if approved. That is probably of little comfort to China. While the country wants a flourishing aviation market, it also wants its airlines to have a fair share. But this is not classic protectionism. The argument is Chinese carriers are still young and need time to gain experience before being on equal footing with peers.
Yet Etihad and Qatar are younger than China’s long-haul airlines. With a mindset change that favours liberalisation in China being unlikely in the medium term, the foreign carriers will have to find ways to stress their value and why they should receive more air rights. Partnerships are one such answer.
29-Oct-2013 1:08 PM
Qatar Airways intends to launch four weekly A330 services from Doha to Hangzhou in eastern China, 138km from Shanghai, where Qatar Airways already operates a daily service. Hangzhou becomes Qatar's sixth Chinese destination, bestowing Qatar with the title of serving more Chinese cities than any other non-Asian carrier. The previous holders of this title were KLM and Lufthansa with five cities.
Hangzhou can be an alternative to Shanghai thanks to a high-speed rail link that connects the two cities in as little as 45 minutes. But Hangzhou also has its own local market, including one of China's wealthiest – and by some counts the wealthiest – population pool. Hangzhou is also near significant trading ports.
In Hangzhou Qatar will join Ethiopian Airlines and KLM, the only other non-Asian carriers at the airport, China's 10th largest. This is a two-part report with this first part looking at Hangzhou both for its own market and as an alternative to congested Shanghai. The second part will look at the overall positioning of Emirates, Etihad, Qatar and Turkish Airlines in China.
22-Oct-2013 6:20 PM
Low-cost carriers are starting to slowly – very slowly – penetrate Africa’s regional international market. LCCs currently only account for about 0.2% of international capacity within Africa, making it one of the last frontiers for the global LCC sector.
Tanzania-based LCC start-up fastjet finally launched services from Dar es Salaam to Johannesburg on 18-Oct-2013, completing a tedious delay-ridden process. It is the first of several planned international routes for fastjet from Tanzania and other potential new bases throughout Africa.
Incredibly there are currently only five international routes within Africa operated by LCCs. The opportunities for LCCs to penetrate the intra-Africa market are huge but so are the challenges.
15-Oct-2013 3:47 PM
As southern Africa enjoys a commodities boom, Zambia, like its neighbour Zimbabwe lacks an international airline of its own, leaving the country reliant on a small number of foreign airlines to provide connections to tourism markets and trading partners. British Airways' decision to pull out of Zambia in Oct-2013 after 80 years of service is a considerable blow to European connections. BA will redeploy the capacity to Ghana where greater returns are in view following Virgin Atlantic's withdrawal.
Privately owned Proflight Zambia operates a domestic network in Zambia and the seemingly prudently run airline has regional expansion plans, but is unlikely to be able to extend its business beyond Africa in the foreseeable future.
Zambia’s Government has been attempting to negotiate a funding deal to relaunch a flag carrier to replace Zambia Airways, liquidated in 1995 after 31 years' operation. However, the unhappy history of African governments meddling in the affairs of their national carriers means private investors are reluctant to become involved. Meanwhile, Africa's hub carriers like Kenya Airways and Ethiopian Airways are increasing service.
13-Oct-2013 8:15 PM
fastjet has reported a USD42 million net loss for the six months to 30-Jun-2013, but its directors remain upbeat about the fledgling African LCC’s prospects, with its Tanzanian domestic operations exceeding expectations and making a profit on an underlying route basis. But the directors acknowledge in the unaudited accounts that the carrier will need to raise further funds in the future “which represents a material uncertainty over going concern”.
fastjet’s ambition to establish Africa's first pan-African low-cost carrier is continuing to encounter strong headwinds. On its own admission, the Tanzanian market is too small to sustain the company and international expansion is critical to its longer term survival.
But the first international route from Dar es Salaam to Johannesburg has, perhaps predictably, run foul of South Africa’s bureaucrats forcing the eleventh hour postponement of the route launch by about two weeks to the middle of Oct-2013. fastjet will compete against South African Airways (SAA) as the only other operator on the route and has promised to reduce fares by 60%. fastjet is taking online bookings for flights departing from 18-Oct-2013.