Cape Town-Johannesburg Tambo is world's 12th-busiest route by seats per week
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Africa Outlook: Ethiopian Airlines and Air Mauritius grow, but others face strong headwinds
Africa is a region of huge opportunity - as has been observed for decades - but even bigger challenges. Africa’s airlines continue to struggle and collectively remain in the red while airlines in every other region in today’s favourable environment are profitable.
Structural changes and a new mindset from African governments are desperately needed. Political interference and government meddling in airlines is a common problem, as well as protectionism and unnecessarily high taxation.
In this report CAPA looks at the continued struggles of South African Airways and the new business models being pursued by Air Mauritius and TAAG – both of which are keen to develop new transit hubs. Ethiopian’s rapid growth and remarkable success highlight the opportunities in Africa that can be exploited with the right strategy.
China-UK air service agreement permits growth as Chinese airlines constrained in most other markets
An agreement between China and the UK to more than double their air service agreement is good timing for both sides. Chinese airlines are finding an imbalance: they are taking delivery of widebody aircraft and more Chinese airlines are flying long haul but traffic rights to major markets – the US, Canada, Germany and France – are becoming depleted. Negotiations to add traffic rights have not succeeded, typically due to the foreign side being concerned about accessing Chinese slots or Russian overflight rights.
The agreement with the UK to expand the number of weekly passenger flights from each side from 40 to 100 reflects considerable pragmatism on the part of the UK: British Airways and Virgin Atlantic are not growing in China, and China is a large growth opportunity. The UK has lagged on Chinese tourism. It was only in 2015 that China became the UK's largest inbound market.
Consistency is challenging: Chinese visitors to the UK decreased in 2014, then rapidly grew in 2015 and declined in 1H2016, although the full year looks more upbeat. The pound's post-Brexit depreciation has meant that the Chinese receive about 20% more for their currency. Despite a seeming alignment of factors in the UK's favour to grow tourism, it must continue to reform its visa policy so that the UK can compete with China's more preferred European markets of France, Germany and Italy.