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Astral Aviation expands towards Abu Dhabi

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Astral Aviation has just signed a code-share agreement with fellow Kenyan cargo operator, Kenya Airways Cargo. It has also just signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Etihad Cargo, and looks set to take advantage of the closer ties being sought by the two countries.

Astral Aviation, a cargo-only airline in Africa flying scheduled routes to 20 destinations across the continent, has just signed a code-share agreement with fellow Kenyan cargo operator, Kenya Airways Cargo. It has also just signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Etihad Cargo to enhance cooperation between the two entities. With these partnerships, Astral Aviation hopes to increase trade between Africa and the Middle East. The announcements come off-the-backs of several other partnerships announced earlier in the year, including an agreement with Air Logistics Group, the world’s leading cargo sales and services agent, that would increase online booking capacity for the airline. As Astral Aviation has just celebrated 22 years in operation, we look back at its interesting history.

The humble beginnings of the company

Although Astral Aviation now flies regularly to 20 destinations across Africa, and delivers everything ranging from perishable goods, vaccines, mining equipment, up to humanitarian aid, it started in a very different, and much less secure position. Upon its foundation in November 2000, it was a simple charter airline operating wet-leased (where the aircraft owner will supply air crew members along with the aircraft) Russian-owned Antonov planes.

At the time, the company did not have the funds for Boeing or Airbus freighters, so Astral Aviation began operations with three Antonov AN-12 turboprop planes transporting UN food aid to Somalia, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Eight years later, Astral Aviation was in a position to be able to renew its fleet, where it returned the aging Russian turboprops and instead dry-leased (where the aircraft is leased without crew) Douglas DC9 freighters. This fleet was then expanded with McDonnell-Douglas MD83s, and eventually with Africa’s first Boeing 767-200F.

Recently, Astral Aviation has made the news again by ordering the first Brazilian-made Embraer E190Fs in Africa. They join a long order list: two Boeing 767-300Fs, two Airbus A330-200Fs, four A330-300P2Fs, and four Boeing B777-300ERSFs. These aircraft will join the current fleet of 14 that includes four Fokker 50s – used for short landing strips in remote areas – and two Boeing 747-400Fs.

Covid-19 creates huge demand for cargo carriers 

Astral Aviation found itself extremely busy during the first fourth months of Covid-19, flying every single day. Originally this was perishables and pharmaceutical cargo, and then increasingly, masks, personal protective equipment, and PCR and rapid-testing equipment. Astral found itself delivering to 48 of the 54 African countries.

When the first vaccines arrived in 2021, Astral Aviation was ready to assist. In particular, a million doses of AstraZeneca, refused by the Kenyan Government due to the lower efficacy shown against the dominant variant in Kenya at the time, were re-distributed across 16 other countries on the continent. To date, Astral Aviation estimates they have delivered 59 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines across Africa.

As jet fuel prices soar, cargo operators face new pressures

In February 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine. The resulting backlash against Russia saw it ostracized from much of the international community and demand for its oil and gas exports fell, or were intentionally cut off. Fuel prices across the world rose quickly, with jet fuel right alongside.

Cargo airlines like Astral Aviation found themselves facing costs rising by as much as 35%, in part due to the older age of cargo aircraft compared to those operated by passenger airlines. For example, production of the Boeing 727-200Fs that Astral Aviation leases ended in 1984, and the aircraft is significantly less efficient than more modern planes. On top of this, cargo flights are typically unbalanced between outward and return journeys – a flight from Europe to Nairobi will be nearly full of high value-added products, but on the return trip Astral Aviation often has no choice but to fly a near-empty plane. Nonetheless, the airline has shown resilience and continued to operate.

Closer links to the Middle East could fuel growth for Astral Aviation

In October 2022, Kenya and the United Arab Emirates agreed to expedite trade agreements and investment opportunities between the two countries. Astral Aviation’s new code-share agreement with Kenya Airways Cargo and MOU with Etihad Cargo will mean Astral Aviation is likely to see more flights into Abu Dhabi, taking advantage of the closer ties being sought by the two countries.

Photos : aircargonews.net

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The 10 best African airlines

Comments (1) Africa, Business, Featured

Kenya Airways

African airlines have worked to improve safety and reliability to obtain eight spots in the top 100 global airlines, according to rating agency Skytrax.

Skytrax has published its latest survey, with 8 African Airlines falling into the “Top 100” global airlines. This is progress in a continent hardly known for its aviation prowess. Although Africa is the second largest continent, with the second largest population, it only accounts for 3% of all air traffic. High poverty rates with poor infrastructure and investment has typically stifled Africa’s air industry. Dire safety records, exorbitant fuel taxes and uncooperative governments have also compounded the problems for those who want to travel around Africa and internationally.

Fortunately for frequent flyers, there is a growing market for air travel in Africa. This is driven in part by increased business, trade and tourism along with a rising number of business “hubs” driving a demand for affordable and reliable flights routes. Back in 2012, African air traffic only accounted for 1% of all air travel and only 5 African airlines made it into the top 100 list.

Skytrax Awards: the pinnacle of safety and excellence in aviation

The Skytrax awards are a global benchmark in quality and safety and are widely known as the “Passenger’s Choice Awards” due to their selection process. Consumers from across the globe take part in a satisfaction survey to determine the winners; no external sponsorship, payment or influence alters the results.

Clear winners of the Skytrax awards are the South African airlines. Heading up the country’s list is South African Airways, a consistently well-rated airline that flies to 38 destinations and is a premier international aviation leader. Mango also made the list at number eight, a subsidiary of South African Airlines and a low-budget alternative with well-rated services and safety records. Finishing off the South African contingent is Kulula at number seven, another “no-frills” airline, operated as a franchisee of British Airways. South Africa’s reputation for business and status as a regional trading hub, coupled with its higher than average economic statistics can account for its prominent position in Africa’s aviation industry.

Luxury islands and South Africa coming out on top

Kenya Airways upsets the status quo by winning Africa’s Leading Airline at the 2016 World Travel Awards. In doing so it unseated South Africa Airways as Africa’s best airline, an award they had taken home for 22 years in a row. They also won the “Best in Business Class” award, clinching both the overall and luxury travel recognition, something many airlines struggle to do. Kenya airways has recovered spectacularly from its problematic history. Dogged by accidents in the early 2000s, “The Pride of Africa” has made great safety improvements to become a world-class airline. Kenya Airways Marketing Director, Chris Diaz explained, “This is sign enough that we are putting the dark clouds behind us to cruise unimpeded as Africa’s most respected airline.”

Air Mauritius and Air Seychelles are beaten only by South African Airways on Skytrax’ list. Their prominence as travel leaders is unsurprising due to their luxury locations and high levels of international tourism which drives expectations and assures quality. Air Mauritius has code sharing agreements with Emirates and other world class airlines, which is a certain sign of excellence, due to Emirates’ notoriously high standards in partnerships. Air Seychelles boasts Etihad as a stakeholder and was recently awarded a 4 star rating at the Skytrax awards.

All-Boeing fleets and drastic turnarounds

Ethiopian airlines

Ethiopian airlines

Also highly rated was Ethiopia Airlines, coming in at number four on Skytrax’ list. The firm also won Best Airline in Economy award at the World Travel Awards 2016. Ethiopia Airlines is the flag carrier of Ethiopia and has a strong reputation for cargo travel as well as its popular passenger air travel. TAAG Angola Airlines successfully made 2016’s list, real progress after a 2007 European travel ban and subsequent re-haul of the entire fleet and board. Now, it is has a Boeing-only fleet and has agreements with Emirates and other top-class airlines.

The airlines rounding off the top 10 are Royal Air Maroc and Air Austral. Air Maroc is fully owned by the Moroccan government and has its headquarters in Casablanca. It was formed in 1953 and also operates an all-Boeing fleet; it has now become a formidable force in African air travel. Taking risks, they were the only airline to continue flying to Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia amid the Ebola outbreaks, becoming an essential part of the fight against the disease and supplying the region with resources and medical staff. The last airline is Reunion Island’s Air Austral who has a particularly young fleet for African aviation, with an average age of 5.2 years. The success of these airlines demonstrates that the industry has come a long way in recent years, drastically changing the perception of African air travel.

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Kenya Airways says fixing weaknesses found after forensic audit

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

NAIROBI (Reuters) – Kenya Airways said on Tuesday preliminary results of a forensic audit had helped it identify weaknesses in its systems and internal controls, and it was taking remedial action that included disciplining some staff.

The statement, following the audit by Deloitte Consulting, did not give details about the actions taken by those staff.

The airline has been working on a turnaround plan after more than three years of financial losses.



(Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Mark Potter)

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International Marrakech Air Show 2016: Bigger Than Ever

Comments (1) Business, Featured, Middle East

Marrakech Air Show 2016

The Marrakech Air Show is an international aerospace exhibition and conference, attracting businesses from the industry and worldwide spectators.

On Saturday, the fifth biennial International Marrakech Air Show (IMAS) concluded in stunning style. With every year that passes, it seems that this marquee event becomes ever more important. This year saw in excess of 200 industry leading companies take part and covered more than 70,000 sq. meters of exhibition space. While dazzling aerial displays on the final day are what capture the public’s imagination, the real impact of the event is realized through the forging of new business ties amongst the elite of the aeronautics world. This global exhibition is internationally recognized as being one of the top events on the international aerospace and defense (A&D) calendar, attracting industry leaders and international spectators.

The opening ceremony was kicked off in a traditional fashion by the Moroccan marching band. Afterwards, the Royal Moroccan flag and the International Marrakech Airshow flag were flown in tandem over the airfield by military helicopters. This was followed by a breathtaking display from The Royal Moroccan Army’s Aerobatics team who piloted F16 fighters and concluded the ceremony. The gravitas of the occasion was underscored by the attendance of Moroccan Head of Government, Abdelilah Benkirane.

Attendees and Spectators

Exhibitors included Civil Aviation, Spaceflight, Military Aviation, Defense Technology (from land, air and sea) and Research and Defense authorities from around the globe. There were both static and air exhibitions which included industry leaders and national representatives.

Marrakech Air Show 2016 conferenceKey attractions among the static displays were Dassault Aviation’s Rafale and a long-range Falcon 900LX which required a six-man exhibition team to staff the aircraft and show off its capabilities. Also prominently displayed was a U.S. Air Force C-130J Hercules, from the Ramstein Air Base in Germany. This Behemoth stood out as a symbol of partnership whilst promoting regional security throughout the African continent.

Aerobatic display teams from Italy, the UAE, Spain, The USA and the Royal Moroccan Air Force put on stunning shows for eager onlookers, competing over style and inflight capabilities to battle for pre-eminence in their field. The Italian aerobatic team, Frecce Tricolori, performed at the IMAS for the first time ever. They put on a particularly striking display in traditional Italian colors: red, green and white.

US and Moroccan bonds

With the US contingent of the show boasting 15 participating companies, and as one of the show’s largest exhibitors, it shows how important this region is to the US aerospace and defense industry. Among the companies representing the US were Boeing, FLIR, Lockheed Martin and Pratt & Whitney who were organized by Kallman Worldwide in collaboration with government agencies including the departments of Commerce, Defense and State. “The growth of the show and the expansion of military and commercial aerospace infrastructure in Morocco says a lot about the long-term opportunities for our exhibitors here,” said Kallman Worldwide CEO, Tom Kallman.

Not Just an Air Show

In reality, The International Marrakech Air Show is much more than just an air show. It’s an invaluable business and networking occasion for a variety of entities. This year saw exhibitors specializing in fields such as aircraft construction, satellite systems, avionics and onboard components, propulsions engineering, weapons systems, land defense armaments and many more. Senior government representatives from forty countries came to rub shoulders with specialist firms, legislators and aeronautics giants.

In the aeronautics sphere, Morocco has become the strategic gateway between Africa and the rest of the world. Commercial air travel is becoming increasingly more viable and popular for African citizens; authorities and private enterprises are both maneuvering to meet this demand. Additionally, African governments are increasingly looking to invest in defense capabilities and associated infrastructure. Big business opportunities beckon and the Marrakech Air Show is designed to facilitate the process.

In recent years, the Moroccan aeronautics sector has seen rapid growth of between 15-20% per annum. Firms such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Airbus, Bombardier and a host of others now maintain a permanent presence within Morocco’s borders. In total, more than 120 world class aeronautics organizations now operate in the country. The success of the airshow has helped demonstrate to businesses that Morocco is the premier platform from which to service new markets in the region.

Ultimately, The International Marrakech Airshow 2016 was as a resounding success. The event delivered on two fronts, firstly as a thrilling spectacle of modern aviation, and secondly as a vehicle by which business and aeronautics can flourish, bringing benefits not just to Morocco but to the entire continent.

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Shares in South African airline Comair fall 3% as strike continues

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa’s airline operator Comair’s share price fell more than 3 percent by Friday, the third day of a strike by ground staff demanding higher wages.

Shares in Comair, a franchisee of British Airways and the owner of South African low-cost airline Kulula.com, declined by 3.1 percent to 3.10 rand ($0.2) by 1050 GMT.

The share price has fallen by more than 5 percent since Tuesday, after the United Association of South Africa (UASA) said its members were preparing to strike.

The union wants a 35 percent increase over three years, while Comair is offering a 22.5 percent increase over three years, the airline said on Tuesday.

Both the company and the union were not immediately available for comment.

($1 = 14.5070 rand)


(Reporting by Zimasa Mpemnyama; Editing by James Macharia)

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Gulf airlines stage price war

Comments (0) Business, Featured, Middle East


Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways cut regional airfares as they seek to increase their market share.

The Arab Gulf’s three major air carriers are slashing their fares as they compete for market share in the region.

With the help of low oil prices, Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways have cut fares on some Middle Eastern routes by as much as 20 percent compared to a year ago.

Qatar Airways has also sharply cut fares to Europe and India, while Etihad fares to Europe rose more than 20 percent, according to data from the travel portal Cleartrip.

Qatar cuts across the board

Qatar made cuts on fares to Europe and Indian and within the Middle East. For example, the average price of a ticket to Europe on Qatar airlines was $540 in 2016, compared to $660 a year ago, a decrease of 18 percent. The average roundtrip fare to India decreased by $50 to $300, a decline of about 15 percent. The average price of a Qatar ticket in the Middle East declined 20 percent to $290.

On Emirates, the average roundtrip ticket to destinations in the Middle East dropped by more than 17 percent to $390. Emirates’ average fare to Europe edged up slightly from $850 to $875 while fares to India dropped by $30 or nearly 9 percent to $310 in 2016.

Etihad also cut fares within the Middle East by 12 percent, from an average of $375 for a roundtrip ticket in 2015 to the current average of $330. However, Etihad’s average fares to India declined only slightly, from $385 in 2015 to $380 in 2016. Etihad fares to Europe jumped from $660 to $805, an increase of more than 21 percent.

Low oil prices fuel fare drop

The airlines are taking advantage of the slump in oil prices to improve their market share on many routes where they compete head-to-head in the region, according to Amit Taneja, Cleartrip’s chief revenue officer.

Oil fell to a record low of less than $30 a barrel in January, a fall of more than 70 percent, before rallying to its current $40 per barrel. OPEC producers hope to stabilize the price at $50 a barrel this year.

At the same time, Taneja said, higher demand for travel from the United Arab Emirates to Europe has tempered airlines’ willingness to drop prices as significantly as on Middle East routes.

India demand grows

Demand for travel from the United Arab Emirates to India, a major market for Gulf carriers, has also increased. However, competition from non-Gulf carriers has put downward pressure on fares, according to Taneja.

Emirates is the largest and oldest of the three Gulf airlines. It is based in Dubai with a fleet of 250 aircraft and in business since 1985. Qatar Airways, based in Doha with a fleet of 153 aircraft, began operations in 1994. Etihad, based in Abu Dhabi, is the newcomer, launched in 2003 with a current fleet of 121 aircraft.

The three are competing to become the dominant international hub in the Gulf region.

Qatar opened Hamad International Airport in 2014, with a capacity to handle 30 million passengers annually. Abu Dhabi International said it would open a new Midfield Terminal, which also will have the capacity to serve 30 million passengers a year, in 2017.

Competition from Turkey

But they also face a rival in Turkey, which will open a new international air hub next year. Turkish Airlines plans to spend $3.7 billion this year to grow its fleet to 261 aircraft.

The new airport in Istanbul, with investment of about $35 billion, will be able to accommodate 150 million passengers a year and has parking spots for 500 aircraft. That would give Turkey the potential to more than double the number of passengers it saw at Istanbul Ataturk Airport last year.

Ataturk Airport served more than 60 million passengers last year, while Dubai handled 78 million. Dubai expects to handle 85 million passengers this year.

Bertrand-Marc Allen, the president of Boeing International, called Turkey “a significant opportunity” with its capacity, location, population and likelihood of growth in the coming decades.

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Fastjet warns on full-year results

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

(Reuters) – Fastjet Plc warned that results for the year would be materially below market expectations, adding pressure to the African budget airline whose second-largest investor is seeking the ouster of Chief Executive Ed Winter.

The company said it no longer expected to be cash flow positive in 2016, citing challenging conditions in the domestic aviation market.

Fastjet shares fell as much as 45 percent to a record low of 36.04 pence on Monday morning in London.

Last week, Stelios Haji-Ioannou, whose private investment vehicle easyGroup has a 12 percent stake in Fastjet, called on shareholders to back his bid to immediately remove CEO Winter.

Haji-Ioannou said Winter had created significant overheads for the company, resulting in a high cost base that was disproportionate to its six aircraft fleet.

The budget carrier said in December that it was taking steps to manage its operating costs and overheads, after issuing its second warning on full-year 2015 revenue.

Fastjet had $20 million of cash available at the end of February, the company said, adding that it believed that these funds would be enough to meet its operational requirements.

Fastjet may consider raising further funds during the year to fund future growth as market conditions improve, it said.


(Reporting by Esha Vaish in Bengaluru; Editing by Sunil Nair and Gopakumar Warrier)

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South African entrepreneur is first black woman to launch an airline

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Featured

Siza Mzimela

Siza Mzimela, a longtime aviation executive, is CEO of Fly Blue Crane, which operates flights to several locations in South Africa.

South African entrepreneur Siza Mzimela is making an important mark on aviation as the first black woman in the world to start an airline.

Mzimela is founder and CEO of Fly Blue Crane, a fledgling airline that flies to several destinations within the country and hopes to expand to regional cities.

Mzimela said she is tapping her years of experience leading other airlines, including South African Airways, the country’s largest airline, to shape Fly Blue Crane to meet customer expectations for consistent, on-time travel. The CEO promised convenient, problem-free booking and travel with competitive fares.

New airline is based in Johannesburg

Blue Crane, based at O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, launched in August offering several flights daily to Bloemfontein, Kimberley and Nelspruit.

Blue Crane later added flights between Kimberley and Cape Town and between Bloemfontein and Cape Town, but announced that flights to Nelspruit would be discontinued in January because of lack of capacity.

The airline hopes to find success serving provincial and regional capitals in southern Africa.

Mzimela said that airports in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town had more than enough air service. But Fly Blue Crane wants to fill gaps in the market in smaller cities such as Kimberley within South Africa and then expand to regional centers.

She wants to use the airline to open new routes that will help improve the economies of smaller markets, she said.

fly blue crane

Regional expansion is a goal

While service within South Africa is the immediate priority, the new airline wants to expand beyond those borders. Mzimela hopes to add destinations in Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Fly Blue Crane operates a fleet of four fuel-efficient 50-seater Embraer Regional Jet 145 aircraft, which enables quick turnaround and efficient crews.

The new company is taking off at a time when the airline industry in Africa is poised to expand. According to the African Airlines Association, there is opportunity for African carriers to expand intra-African and domestic travel for a growing middle class while global carriers dominate intercontinental travel. More than 20 carriers are based in South Africa, the largest being South African Airways with a fleet of 65 planes.

Founder has headed two other airlines

Launching an airline isn’t the first “first” for Mzimela.

She was the first female CEO at both South African Express Airways and South African Airways. At South African Airways, she introduced non-stop flights to New York and Beijing  – a first in the history of the airline.

Mzimela also was the first woman in 67 years named to the board of directors of the International Air Transport Association. She serves on the South African Tourism Board and is a member of the board of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls.

In 2012, she was named one of the 10 Greatest Female Leaders in Africa Today by Ventures Africa.

Mzimela also founded Blue Crane Aviation, an aviation services company providing African airlines with consulting, and legal and aircraft management services. She serves as the company’s executive chairperson.

She graduated with a degree in economics and statistics and began her career in banking before moving into the airline industry as a researcher.

Few women rise to the top in the airline industry

Mzimela said being a woman executive in the aviation industry has posed challenges. Globally, only 12 of 248 airline CEOs are women, fewer than 5 percent. Sexism and lack of female mentors are cited as factors that hold women back from executive posts.

“I don’t know how many times I walked into meetings and people just assumed I probably was the one who was going to be taking notes,” she said.

Mzimela said her success managing established companies motivated her to want to “build something better from the ground up.”

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Africa’s air transport industry eyes expansion, upgrades

Comments (1) Africa, Business, Featured

africa airlines

With a growing population that now surpasses one billion and an expanding middle class, Africa can expect to see air travel increase significantly in the next two decades.

The International Air Transport Association projects that the African air passenger rate will more than double from 119 million passengers in 2014 to 280 million in 2034. (source)

However, the African airline industry lags behind the rest of the global air industry and it faces significant obstacles to future growth, including lack of capital for expansion, high taxes and tariffs and a fragmented system that lowers efficiency and raises costs.

“Africa is a growing market with enormous opportunities for air transport. With an almost 1.1 billion population, it is a huge market for air transport,” said Elijah Chingosho, secretary general of the African Airlines Association (AFRAA). “However, the existing players are confronted with many challenges that are impeding their ability to take advantage of the opportunities.”

Aviation accounts for $80 billion in GDP

Aviation is already playing a role in the African economy, supporting nearly 7 million jobs and accounting for $80 billion in GDP. The sector, in which many airlines are government owned, grew by 5 percent in 2014, outpacing growth in Europe and America.

Currently, non-African carriers dominate intercontinental traffic to and from Africa, accounting for 80 percent of that traffic. Meanwhile, African airlines carry only 2.85 percent of all global traffic.

Intra-continental system is ripe for expansion

Chingosho said African airlines should focus on expanding intra-African and domestic travel. Currently, about 41 percent of traffic is inter-continental, 32 percent intra-Africa, and the rest domestic.

“The best opportunities for growth and expansion lie in the under-served African regional and domestic markets,” Chingosho said. He and others point to Africa’s fast-growing middle class, now about a third of the population, according to the African Development Bank, as an emerging group of potential customers.

Connections between African countries are difficult

Developing an efficient routing system within the continent is a priority.

Ethiopian airlinesIn many cases it is easier for a traveler from an African country to first fly to Paris or Dubai and then to another African country, according to Fatima Beyina-Moussa, director general of Equatorial Congo Airlines and president of the African Airlines Association.

The African Airline Association has 33 airline members that account for 85 percent of traffic by African carriers, including the largest African airlines – Ethiopia Airlines and South African Airways.

Liberalization could open regional markets

Chingosho and other experts say the primary obstacle to expansion is lack of liberalization, or deregulation, that would open regional markets on the continent to trans-national competition.

Forty-four African nations signed the 1999 Yamoussoukro Decision designed to liberalize air travel on the continent, but implementation has been slow, according to the International Air Traffic Association. However, Chingosho offered some optimism: He said African heads of state had agreed to liberalization by January 2017.

Report documents economic benefits

The international association cited one 2014 study that examined the potential financial benefits of implementing the agreement and demonstrated “beyond doubt the tremendous potential for African aviation if the shackles are taken off,” said Tony Tyler, the association’s director general and CEO.

The report said liberalization in just 12 key markets studied would potentially serve 5 million more travelers and provide an additional 155,000 jobs and $1.3 billion in annual GDP.

Financing needed to expand fleets, improve airports

Another obstacle to growth is lack of capital.

Only 19 African countries have ratified the Cape Town Convention, a 2006 treaty designed to make asset-based financing and leasing of aviation equipment more available by reducing creditor risk, Chingosho said.

African air carriers are small compared to international counterparts. Among the largest are: Ethiopian Airlines with 76 aircraft, South African Airways with 65, Royal Air Morocco with 53 and Kenya Airways with 45.

By contrast, Emirates has a fleet of 245 aircraft and Qatar Airways has 167. The world’s largest airline, American, has nearly 950 aircraft.

Chingosho estimated the African fleet would need 800 new aircraft to accommodate growth projected through 2030. Sixty percent of those would expand the fleet and the remaining 40 percent would replace aging aircraft. He said the bulk would be single-aisle, mid-range aircraft.

In addition, airports must be expanded and upgraded, he said.

Airlines report high costs for fuel, tariffs

High operating costs and inefficiencies are other factors holding the African aircraft industry back.

Jet fuel continues to be relatively expensive in Africa, about 30 percent higher than the global average. It cost nearly $120 per barrel in 2014, down from a peak of about $130 a barrel in 2012. Unpaved runways result in higher fuel consumption and maintenance costs.

Elijah Chingosho

Elijah Chingosho, frica Airlines Association (AFRAA) Secretary General

Adding to their costs, Chingosho said, many African airlines are using high capacity aircraft in small or mid-sized markets, which has pushed average load factors below 70 percent. This compares with an average of 80 percent globally.

At the same time, high tariffs and cumbersome customs regulations limit development of airfreight. For example, The National Association of Government Freight Forwarders recently complained that high tariffs have forced Nigerian importers out of that country and many others will leave.

Airport charges are high, with some airports adding as much as $150 per passenger to the cost of a ticket.

African airline fares are high in cost

The result is high fares and low profit margins.

One study found that fares on typical intra-African routes are as much as two times higher than comparable routes in Europe and as much as three times higher than similar routes in India.

Meanwhile, the African airlines operate on a profit margin of less than 1 percent, compared to 4 percent globally.

Safety record improving

Lack of safety and concerns about terrorism and civil strife further depress demand for air travel.

Chingosho said many airlines are still below global standards but he noted that 41 African airlines have adopted international safety standards.

He said the airlines need better training personnel in all areas, including safety. He has encouraged aircraft manufacturers to provide that training.

Air transport will help unify Africa

Chingosho and others assign some of the blame for high costs to high taxes assessed by governments that see air travel as a service for the rich, who can afford to pay, rather than a means of mass transportation that is particularly suitable for Africa with its challenging topography.

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Flying With Fatima Beyina-Moussa

Comments (0) Africa, Featured, Leaders

Fatima Beyina Moussa - ECAir13

A profile of Fatima Beyina-Moussa, CEO of ECAir.

The African aviation market is becoming one of the most significant in the world thanks to its growing middle class, which now makes up over 35% of the population. African air traffic is growing by 5.2% per year. Fatima Beyina-Moussa is 41 and a mother of 2 children. Ask her if she dreamed of being the CEO of an airline and changing the African airline industry and you will elicit a hearty laugh from Ms. Beyina-Moussa. The quick and honest answer is an emphatic “No”. She mentions several other things she dreamed of and the academic track that she trained in, but none of them involve air transportation and helping lead a revolution in travel by air in Africa.

Born in Dakar, Senegal, where her father, Pierre Moussa, studied and taught at the University of Dakar in the area of planning and development alongside Prof. Samir Amin, Fatima’s thoughts on her path in life mirrored her father’s career more than anything. Pierre Moussa was born in Owando, located in northern Congo-Brazzaville, in 1941. He is considered a man gentle in nature, married, and a father of 4 children including Fatima.

Before the Daughter, the Father

Fatima Beyina-MoussaPierre Moussa, Ms. Beyina-Moussa’s father, is an economist by training and a politician in the Congolese government. He started his government career in 1978 as Secretary-General of Planning. President Denis Sassou Nguesso promoted Moussa to Minister of Planning in 1979, the same year he joined the Central Committee of the Congolese Labour Party (PCT). The PCT selected Moussa as Secretary for Planning and the Economy in 1984. He climbed to the role of Minister of Planning and Finance in August of 1987. Moussa is considered “the regime’s economist”, and joined the PCT Political Bureau in 1989, taking on the responsibility for planning and the economy; he was promoted to Minister of State for Planning and the Economy in the Congolese government in 1989. Pierre Moussa is now President of CEMAC, the Commission of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa. His 5-year term appointment was announced at the 11th Summit of CEMAC Heads of State in 2012 at Brazzaville.

Fatima has inherited much from her father, including the role of an economist and interest in development and planning. Her post-secondary school education has focused on economics and finance, primarily in Canada, where she received her Bachelor’s degree from the prestigious HEC Montreal. She then received her MBA from the University of Ottowa, pursuing specialized studies in the USA and France as well. Not only is she keenly aware of issues in Africa, but she is also aware of how Africa interfaces with the rest of the world. As a black African woman, Beyina-Moussa is a pioneer in her field, and her actions and opinions are followed with much interest. As she takes the pulse of modern Africa as one of its business leaders, she is also someone that drives that pulse with her ideas and decisions.

A Rising Career

Beyina-Moussa started her career as a consultant at Ernst & Young in the Congo. She advanced to the role of a consultant at the official Bank of Central African States (BEAC), then moved to New York City, working for the United Nations Environment United for Development (UNDP). Her rise, professionally, was quick but not entirely unexpected. In the Congo, she took on the job as an advisor to the economy and to reform the Congolese Ministry of Finance, Budget and Public Portfolio. Beginning in 2007, she worked on establishing a national air carrier to advance the Congo’s transportation industry and its economy. Success has been quick and in 2011, Fatima Beyine-Moussa was appointed Director/CEO of the national airline of the Republic of Congo, Equatorial Congo Airlines (ECAir). Shortly after her hiring as CEO of ECAir, Fatima was selected as a member of the Executive Committee of African Airlines Association (AFRAA) in 2012. In November 2014, Beyine-Moussa was appointed Chairwoman AFRAA and recently completed her 1-year term at the 47th General Assembly of AFRAA from November 8th-10th, 2015 in Brazzaville.

Fatima Beyina-Moussa is embracing her role as a favorite and influential daughter of Africa. She has plans and a clear view of how she wants Africa to evolve now and in the future. One that she is fervently working on now is travel between cities and countries within Africa. Currently, it can be easier to fly out of the continent, take a connection in Dubai or Paris, and fly back into Africa. Beyina-Moussa is working on a plan to avoid this and make travel within Africa easier and more beneficial for airlines and passengers. Connections between African countries are insufficient, and there are not enough round trips, making travel difficult. With Beyina-Moussa working on this, it is without doubt a job that will get done. In her words, “We have only just begun.”

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