African governments have announced plans to revive their airlines amid stiff competition in the African skies between the continent’s leading African airlines companies and Middle East-registered air carriers.
Africa Industry Travel

African airlines battle for survival through government backing

African governments have announced plans to revive their airlines amid stiff competition in the African skies between the continent’s leading African airlines companies and Middle East-registered air carriers.

Except for Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, and South African Airways which are currently dominating a big part of the African skies, the rest of the air carriers on this continent are facing business hurdles.

The three leading airlines have their operations cutting across the continent to Europe, Asia, South America, and the United States. Kenya Airways will join the two other African airlines after launching its first flight to the US in October of this year.

The rest of the East African states are battling to revive their national airlines through government funding. Tanzania and Rwanda are looking to compete over the regional skies after adding new aircraft to their national airlines fleets.

Uganda Airlines is planning to buy four CRJ900 regional jets from Bombardier Commercial Aircraft, and is looking to operate the CRJ900 in a dual-class configuration with 76 seats, including 12 first class seats.

The airline’s plan is to provide the most modern passenger experience in regional aviation to the people of Uganda and across Africa, also building more connectivity in Africa with its proven track record in Africa and other regions of the world, reports from Kampala said.

The airline had also signed a Memorandum of Understanding for two A330-800neos. The A330-800neos will help the airline to build its international long-haul network.

The aircraft will feature a three-class cabin layout comprising 20 Business, 28 Premium Economy, and 213 Economy seats. The A330-800neo combines low operating costs, long range flying capability, and high levels of comfort.

If all goes as planned, Uganda Airlines will become the world’s first operator of the latest generation of the Airbus, the A330 – 800 Neo.

Uganda Airlines officials placed an order for two A330-800 Neos, as well as four CRJ900 Atmosphere Cabin aircraft from Canadian plane makers Bombardier during the just-ended Farnborough Air show in England.

The airline is now in a rapid revival phase having gone defunct for nearly two decades. It will also be the first African airline operating the CRJ900 Atmosphere Cabin aircraft.

Uganda President Mr. Yoweri Museveni said in Tanzania last week that his government is now working seriously to revive his country’s national airline.

The Ugandan President said in Tanzania that he had asked the Chinese President to open the Chinese skies for Uganda Airlines to land in China, targeting more Chinese tourists and travelers to fly to Uganda and Africa.

In West Africa, Nigeria Air will begin operations in December 2018, the government’s aviation minister, Hadi Sirika, said.

The planned launch comes 15 years after long-standing Nigeria’s flag carrier ceased operations, and almost six years since, Air Nigeria took to the skies for the final time.

“Nigeria has unfortunately not been a serious player in aviation for a long time. We used to be a dominant player, through Nigeria Airways, but sadly not anymore,” Sirika said.

He said that the Nigerian government would not own more than five percent of the new carrier or have a say in how it is run.

Mauritania is the other African nation which has placed an order for two E175 jets.

As part of its fleet modernization program, Mauritania Airlines is planning to add two E175s to replace some of its older narrow-body jets and complement its younger aircraft. The Nouakchott-based carrier signed a contract with Embraer for the new E-Jets at the 2018 Farnborough Air show held in London last month.

Each E175 will be configured with 76 seats in dual class. Deliveries start next year. The airline currently operates one 48-seat Embraer ERJ145 between the domestic cities of Nouakchott, Nouadhibou, and Zouérat. This is the first time the carrier will fly an E-Jet.

According to Radhy Bennahi, CEO of Mauritania Airlines, the E175s will be able to offer even better service to customers, with greater comfort, adding more frequencies and new destinations.