South African Airways (SAA) has begun a network programme that will see the carrier significantly grow its intra-African activities by boosting frequencies on a number of its existing routes within the country to further enhance connectivity. The first of the additional flights took to the air on December 1, 2014 and will substantially increase air services to some of SAA’s key African routes, with frequency growth of up to 24 per cent.
The enhanced focus on the African market is a key part of the carrier’s Long-Term Turnaround Strategy, and is in response to positive market growth. Over the course of the first week of December 2014, SAA is adding another seven weekly flights across four routes.
“The strengthening of these routes comes in the wake of positive load factors and increased traffic between the countries.”Nico Bezuidenhout
Acting Chief Executive Officer, South African Airways
On December 1, 2014 it boosted frequencies between Johannesburg and Harare from 18 to 19 weekly and flights between Johannesburg and Maputo from 17 to 21 weekly. On December 4, 2014, an additional weekly flight will depart from Johannesburg to Kinshasa boosting the route to a daily schedule. The same day an additional, tenth, weekly rotation will be introduced between Johannesburg and Mauritius.
“The strengthening of these routes comes in the wake of positive load factors and increased traffic between the countries,” said Nico Bezuidenhout, acting chief executive officer, South African Airways.
GDP growth in Mozambique currently stands at seven per cent (according to African Development Bank data) and the Democratic Republic of Congo at 8.1 per cent, also exceeds World Bank growth statistics for the continent, which for 2013 was 4.7 per cent. South Africa’s trade and demand for leisure and business travel to Mauritius is also growing at a steady pace.
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“Air lift services traditionally lead GDP in all markets and also track the rate of increased leisure travel, investment and business engagement between South Africa and its continental peers,” added Bezuidenhout.
In our analysis, below, we look at intra-African air capacity over the past ten years. SAA has been the largest carrier in this market throughout this period and despite its operational challenges and revised business strategies off the past two decades it has grown its African capacity 9.3 per cent from 11.13 million seats in 2005 to 12.16 seats this year.
However, its share of capacity has decined from 18.5 per cent in 2005 to 14.1 per cent in 2014 due to the rapid growth of other operators in the Continent, most notably Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways, TAAG Angola and Tunisair. Ethiopian Airlines, its closest rival in Africa, has increased its share of intra-African capacity from 3.9 per cent in 2005 to 14.1 per cent in 2015, while Kenya Airways has grown its share from 4.3 per cent to 5.9 per cent during the same period. Arik Air has also emerged as a credible force from West Africa and has a 6.1 per cent share of available seats this year.