African Airlines Association
- Daily Departures
The African Airlines Association (AFRAA) was established in 1968 in Accra as a trade organisation open to membership of airlines of African States. There are over 30 members from African Union member States. A non-profit regional organisation, AFRAA was founded to “establish harmonious and effective co-operation between African Airlines”, to accelerate economic and social integration of African countries.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
Zambia's booming economy increasingly reliant on Kenya and Ethiopian Airways. A flag carrier needed?
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.
FlySafair’s ambitions to launch services on South Africa’s biggest domestic route between Johannesburg and Cape Town from 17-Oct-2013 have been dealt a severe blow by a High Court interdict issued on 8-Oct-2013 restraining FlySafair from operating scheduled domestic passenger services pending a review of South Africa’s Air Service Licensing Council’s (ASLC) decision to grant the carrier a licence to operate.
The interim injunction has stalled, temporarily at least, a looming battle in the South African domestic market into which FlySafair and fellow LCC start-up SkyWise are planning to launch, ending a brief period where the South African Airways and Comair groups enjoyed a duopoly following the demise of LCC 1time in Nov-2012.
Comair, which operates as LCC Kulula, and the full service British Airways franchise combined forces with would-be competitor SkyWise to block FlySafair’s launch by challenging the ASLC’s decision. Comair and SkyWise claim that FlySafair does not meet South Africa’s maximum 25% foreign ownership limit to operate domestic services and that one of its directors is not a resident of South Africa.
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