WATM: ASECNA expands Aireon data usage to deepen ATM capabilities across Africa

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The Agency for Aerial Navigation Safety in Africa and Madagascar (ASECNA) is developing its air traffic management (ATM) capabilities thanks to an expanded portfolio of products from Aireon, a provider of space-based automatic dependent surveillance broadcast (ADS-B) services.

ASECNA plans to use AereonFLOW for air traffic flow management capabilities, to help extend visibility of flights outside its busy airspace and help better predict traffic flows planning to enter in its airspace.

“ASECNA has proven its leadership in the world for air traffic surveillance and safety,” said Don Thoma, Aireon CEO. “they were an early-adopter of ADS-B and now they are the first ANSP in Africa to plan usage of AireonFLOW,” he continued.

Already in operation with Eurocontrol, AireonFLOW provides gate-to-gate, high-fidelity ATS surveillance data, which, whcn combined with flight and airspace contextual information, enhances prediction capabilities of flow management and other relevant air traffic capacity and demand platforms.

Mohamed Moussa, Director General of ASECNA, commented: “This new capability is completely aligned with the ASECNA  strategy of a Single African Airspace. By having the ability to extend traffic visibility outside ASECNA airspace, the African continent will be aligning ATFM capabilities with Europe and the US, using state-of-the-art technologies to evolve and accommodate traffic demand, avoiding delays and reducing its carbon footprint.”

AviaDev Africa provides perfect platform to support connectivity to and within the continent

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While June has already been packed with aviation events, the end of the month will see airport and airline executives as well as suppliers heading to Cape Town for AviaDev Africa, which is set to deliver more than 300 route development meetings.

The event, which provides a perfect networking platform for airports, airlines and suppliers, such as Airbus, Swissport, Boeing, Embraer, SITA and Rolls Royce, is taking place at Century City in Cape Town, South Africa from 29 June to 1 July. This year will mark the sixth edition of the networking event which is themed: Connect. Collaborate. Change.

Commenting on the upcoming event Wrenelle Stander, Wesgro CEO and Official Spokesperson for Cape Town Air Access, noted, “We look forward to welcoming our industry delegates to Cape Town and the Western Cape. We thank AviaDev for the opportunity to showcase our world-class destination as a business hub at the forefront of essential conversations and collaborations, especially regarding increasing air connectivity within Africa.”

A comprehensive conferencing programme will be held alongside the route development meetings with sessions addressing the role of air cargo and diversifying airport revenues, building airline partnerships, financing African airlines and exploring the opportunities for OEMs. Meanwhile a pre-conference workshop specifically for airports and tourism authorities will focus on the skills needed to drive active route development and what airlines look for when placing a new route.

Underlining his support for aviation in Africa Jon Howell, CEO AviaDev Africa stated: “We have supported the industry through the pandemic with numerous digital engagements and will continue to do so, but it is clear the industry needs to meet and discuss future route development for Africa in person. AviaDev Africa provides the perfect mix between an educational programme, focused pre-arranged route development meetings and industry networking. We are confident that as a result of the event, new relationships will be forged that will deliver the connectivity that Africa deserves.”

Kenya Airways subsidiary to scale urban air mobility with 40 eVTOL order

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Fahari Aviation, a Kenya Airways Subsidiary and Eve, a start-up backed by Embraer, have agreed to scale up urban air mobility (UAM) with an order of up to 40 eVTOLs for both passenger and cargo traffic.

The agreement includes joint studies through a working group to develop and scale the UAM market and a business model for cargo drone operations in Kenya. The project is expected to start deliveries in 2026.

“Urban air mobility is the future of transport and we are honoured to be the champions of this in the region,” said Allan Kilavuka, Group Managing Director & CEO Kenya Airways. “The journey to realise the dream of eVTOL vehicles in Kenya is on course and the partnership with EVE UAM, is a key achievement for us as part of the strategy to adopt new technologies as a growth strategy for the sustainable development of Africa.

Andre Stein, co-CEO of Eve, added that this collaboration marks a new chapter of the Eve and Fahari Aviation partnership to further develop and support the ecosystem for UAM in Kenya. “Last year, we announced a collaboration to develop operational models for Fahari Aviation’s key markets and today’s announcement confirms that it is evolving successfully,” he said.


African airports welcome increase in domestic activity across the continent

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Air passenger traffic in Africa for the month of July 2021 is estimated to have reached 42.9% compared to the same month in 2019, while capacity reached 53.7% as of July.

Domestic markets across Africa continue to post better performance with demand for passenger travel in this market outperforming intra-Africa and intercontinental at 64% compared to 22.9% for intra-Africa and 13.1% for intercontinental traffic in May. Meanwhile, domestic, intra-Africa and intercontinental seats accounted for 50.2%, 27.3% and 22.5% respectively.

In another positive sign of African aviation’s recovery, the restart of African airlines operations on international routes continued the positive trend observed in the last three months. May 2021 saw a resumption of 62.5% of international routes, compared to the pre-COVID period. Recovery further improved to 72.7% in June 2021 and 74.7% in July. Some countries have been easing travel restrictions to facilitate the movement of people and tourists across borders. There is however concern that this positive trend might be reversed in subsequent months if the rate of COVID-19 infections continues to far.

In terms of intra-African connectivity, Mauritius remains the most impacted air travel destination, with a reduction of 98% of possible connections to/ from African airports compared to February 2020. Connectivity however improved from the North and West African airports.

The evolving role of tourism authorities in route development

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In 2018, 57% of tourists arrived at their destination by air. So, why are tourism authorities not more involved in the process of attracting airlines, often leaving it to the airport authorities?

That was the talking point during a lively panel discussion on the role of tourism authorities in route development during this week’s AviaDev Africa (9-11 June) which is being hosted by Ravinala Airports.

Referencing her own experience Carol Hay, CEO McKenzie Gayle Ltd and former Director of Marketing UK and Europe for the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), said: “There is a huge gap in how [tourism authorities] engage with airports, whether large or small. But with airlines it is a totally different relationship. We would typically work much closer with airlines. The gap is the relationship with airports and that’s a key area to address.”

The main challenge, she said comes down to money. “Attracting an airline to a destination is one thing, but continually making sure every single flight is operating at or near capacity takes a great deal of work and investment.” She also stressed the need to invest in marketing and the need for greater synergy among all stakeholders. “When we look at route collaboration, stakeholder engagement is a key pillar to sustaining anything in tourism including airlift.”

Underlining that the global pandemic has taught stakeholders across the aviation sector to think outside the box, Hay added: “While we can’t rely on international tourism to fill our flights or our hotels, we’ve had to think what can we do within our region, within our communities and how can we leverage opportunities in the cargo sector for example… After all the risk of an airport closing  and the wide reaching impact that would have on the regional economy and community would be significant. COVID has shown that we need to stand together, we cannot do this alone!”

Meanwhile, the Hon. Najib Balala, Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife, Republic of Kenya, added that now is the time to rethink and remodel destinations and how they’re marketed. “People don’t just want to come and stay in hotels anymore, they want to connect with local communities and have an authentic experience. And we’ve had to rethink our domestic market, which has all too often been ignored. It has been a wake-up call for us in Kenya.”

Hay agreed saying that one thing she would urge tourist boards to do when liaising with airports and airlines is to be authentic. “Every destination is unique and offers something different and that’s what needs to be sold.” She also advised tourist boards to partner not just with airports but also other destinations and their tourist boards when going into negotiations with airlines. “It’s expensive sustaining airlines and new routes but there is strength in numbers and two destinations working together might be able to negotiate a double drop.”

Visa facilitation is another area where tourism boards need to work alongside aviation stakeholders to ensure that while borders are protected it is not at the cost of bringing in tourism. “Think commercially. Tourism is a business with huge potential and we need to break down some of those barriers to travel,” Hay said.

Balala wrapped up the discussion reiterating the need for greater collaboration and involvement of all stakeholders. “Airports might not be the final destination, but they are the gateway, the entry and exit points to a destination,” he said. “We need to invest in them, make them attractive. A bad experience with an immigration or customs officer will leave a lasting impression and that passenger won’t want to return,” he noted.

“However, one thing we can’t avoid is that “tourism and aviation are intertwined. The two rely on each other, especially with 50% of travel in the world comprised of airlift. Tourism boards need to engage with airports, but also other stakeholders.”

Pictured: Top left – Carol Hay, CEO, McKenzie Gayle Ltd and former Marketing Director UK & Europe for the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO); Top right – Hon. Najib Balala, Cabinet Secretary for tourism and wildlife, Republic of Kenya; Bottom – Mafalda Borea, Sustainability Editor, VoyagesAfriq and panel moderator.

Interview: Jon Howell, CEO and Founder of AviaDev, and Nicolas Deviller, Deputy CEO of Ravinala Airports

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Although we’re all missing live ‘in-person’ events, AviaDev Africa, which is this year being hosted by Ravinala Airports Madagascar from 9-11 June, is set to deliver an exciting, engaging event that offers robust discussion, interaction and insights. Regional Gateway will be leading a roundtable discussion on how African airports can leverage non-aeronautical revenue opportunities. Ahead of the event, we spoke with AviaDev’s MD Jon Howell and Nicolas Deviller, Deputy CEO of Ravinala Airports, to find out more.

Africa’s aviation leaders highlight steps for sustainable recovery

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Following the African Airlines Association’s (AFRAA’s) Aviation Stakeholders’ Convention held on 18-19 May, AFRAA, alongside Airports Council International (ACI) Africa, the African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC), the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO), the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), has issued a statement outlining the measures required to ensure a sustainable recovery of the air travel industry in Africa following the global pandemic.

While organisations in the continent’s aviation ecosystem have demonstrated great resilience thus far they are now urging the relevant authorities and decision-makers to take the necessary steps for a durable restart and recovery of Africa’s air travel industry.

These steps include: harmonisation of travel protocols; accessibility of COVID-19 testing facilities; reduction of high PCR test costs in Africa; faster rollout of Africa’s vaccine campaign; lifting of prohibitive travel restrictions; and the adoption of globally interoperable digital health passes.

The six organisations underline that these steps are key to restoring confidence and rebuilding air traffic without compromising on the health and safety of passengers and staff. Vaccines are highlighted as presenting the most efficient way out of this pandemic when coupled with testing and the current health measures in place, with African states further encouraged to adopt any form of globally interoperable digital health pass or certificate approved by the World Health Organization to seamlessly integrate into testing and travel processes. And with high PCR test costs in some African states, the organisations are also calling for leaders to consider alternative testing protocols for travel that use the more cost-effective rapid diagnostic antigen test.