Compiled by TZ Business News Staff.
A high profile Pan African airlines conference is scheduled to take place in Congo Brazzaville November 8 -10, 2015, according to the news agency Africa Press Organization (APO). Tanzania is not reported to attend.
In the meantime, the Rwandese flag carrier airline, RwandAir, as well as Kenya Airways are reported to be struggling to consolidate their presence in the East African skies as well as the entire continent.
Rwandair officials recently told Reuters news agency the airline had signed a contract with the aircraft manufacturer Airbus for purchase of two brand new A330s (300 and 200 series), to bring the total number of aircraft owned by the airline to ten, adding that they expect to break even by 2018.
In June, Rwanda was reported to have signed a deal with Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development (PTA) Bank for a $160 million loan as part of the financing to buy the two Airbus aircraft. Kenya airways has not been profitable of late, but it has managed to acquire a USD 200 million bank loan to stay afloat.
Kenya Airways Managing Director Mbuvi Ngunze is among prominent speakers to participate in discussions at the Congo Brazzaville conference, APO has reported.
The national airline of the Republic of the Congo, ECAir (Equatorial Congo Airlines) has organised the 47th Annual General Assembly and the Summit of the African Airlines Association (AFRAA) from 8 to 10 November, 2015 in Brazzaville. The theme will be “Open skies: Growth through competition and collaboration”. The event has been organised under the patronage of His Excellency, Denis Sassou-Nguesso, President of the Republic of the Congo.
AFRAA regroups 45 African airline members and around a hundred industrial partners, including aircraft and engine manufacturers, consultants, and high technology service providers, as well as representatives of governments, airports and international organisations.
The Association was created in 1964. Its mission is to encourage and support African companies as they develop their air transport services. It also aims to facilitate cooperation between African companies in order to develop interconnectivity and establish a maximum of intra-African relationships.
The AFRAA General Assembly is a unique business event in Africa and it takes place every year in November. It is organised by an African airline and is attended by an average of 400 participants. This includes airline directors, chief executive officers and decision-makers on a global scale.
During this event, participants explore the challenges of the aeronautical industry and debate on which measures to implement in order to improve air transport growth across the continent.
Fatima Beyina-Moussa, ECAir managing director and AFRAA President, will also participate in a round table with other directors of African airlines: Mbuvi Ngunze, Kenya Airways managing director, Tewolde Gebremariam, Ethiopian Airlines president and managing director, Sherif Fathi, EgyptAir president and managing director, Abderahmane Berthe, Air Burkina managing director, Sanjeev Gahdia, Astral Aviation managing director, and Khellil Faical, Tassili Airlines managing director, APO has reported.
The Summit’s Brazzaville location will attract the attention of the world industry towards the Congolese capital’s extraordinary opportunities, particularly with regard to the Maya-Maya Airport. Furthermore, commercial and tourism ties will be strengthened throughout the continent and with new and traditional markets outside of Africa (Dubai, China, Europe).
Tanzania’s absence from this congress seems loud and clear as the country’s flag carrier, Air Tanzania Company Limited (ATCL) remains entangled in a Tsh. 133 billion debt (about $60 million).
RwandAir, the national flag carrier of the Republic of Rwanda, has in the meantime signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Airbus for two brand new A330s (300 and 200 series) making RwandAir a new Airbus customer and the first airline in East Africa to order the A330s, according to Reuters.
“As we look to introduce wide body aircraft for the first time into our fleet, with its proven economics, reliability and passenger comfort, we have found the A330 to perfectly support our plans to expand into Europe and Asia to enhance our regional presence, to open up new routes and to grow our market share,’’ said John Mirenge, Chief Executive Officer of RwandAir.
The two aircraft will have 261 and 300 seats respectively and will come in a triple-class configuration with Rolls Royce Trent 772B engines and will be delivered in the second half of 2016. With this addition RwandAir’s fleet will reach ten aircraft.
“We are delighted that RwandAir has confirmed its confidence in the A330, and are extremely pleased to welcome them as a new A330 customer,” said John Leahy, Airbus Chief Operating Officer, Customers. “The A330 Family offers a unique combination of unbeatable economics, versatility and fuel efficiency. Passengers will be able to enjoy a new flying experience with state of the art inflight entertainment systems and best-in-class passenger comfort that only Airbus offers.”
From Kigali as its hub in the heart of Africa, RwandAir is seen to be one of the fastest growing airlines and operates one of the youngest fleet on the African continent. The airline which is also well reputed for an excellent on time performance, reaches out to eighteen cities in Western, Eastern and Southern Africa and the Middle East.
RwandAir recent major milestone is the passing of the IATA Operational Safety Audit which resulted in the acquisition of the IOSA certificate. The airline’s commitment to operate with the highest and international industry safety standards continues with the pursue of another certification, the IATA Safety Audit for Ground Operations expected to be completed by June 2016.
On the other hand, Kenya Airways has received the first half of a $200 million loan from Afreximbank to help keep the struggling airline afloat and expects the second tranche in two weeks, its chief executive said on Friday.
The airline, part-owned by Air France KLM, has not made a profit in three years and sunk further into the red in the year through March with a pretax loss of 29.71 billion shillings ($289 million).
A series of Islamist militant attacks in Kenya has hurt the country’s tourism industry, which hit the airline’s revenue right after it bought expensive, modern airplanes.
Kenya, which holds 29.8 percent of the carrier, reckons it may now need a $500-$600 million bailout though the exact amount will depend on a turnaround plan being prepared by consultants McKinsey and Seabury.
“Kenya Airways will survive … you can’t die before you are killed,” Chief Executive Officer Mbuvi Ngunze told angry stockholders on Friday at its annual general meeting, adding that the airline was ferrying 10,000-12,000 passengers daily.
The $200 million bridging loan from Cairo-based Afreximbank is in addition to a 4.2 billion shilling loan from the government to help the airline meet its operational requirements and pay suppliers of fuel and other services.
“Our focus in the next three to six months is on getting sustainable financing,” Ngunze told a news conference after the shareholder meeting.
He said Kenya Airways had managed to sell its Boeing 767 and 737 planes but attempts to sell four Boeing 777-200s had so far failed due to a softening of the wide-body aircraft market.
Ngunze did not share details of the turnaround plan being prepared but sought to assure shareholders the company would continue in business, despite being technically insolvent due to negative shareholder equity.