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Improving civil aviation safety can boost African air travel

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African civil aviation is said to be five to nine times riskier than the global average. Therefore, investment in regional air and ground safety can contribute to the continent’s attractiveness as a sought-after travel and business destination.

What’s needed in the long run is coordinated investment in leading-edge technologies to enhance safety and cost efficiencies, which will do much to develop smaller airports which are so important for the expansion of African business and tourism.

Promising developments in this regard include efforts to create a single upper airspace management capability in the SADC region.

African aviation stakeholders should further keep an eye on global air transportation and air traffic management advances in the US’s NextGen and EU’s SESAR projects – which would require modernisation of the air traffic control (ATC) communications infrastructure on the continent.

Remote air traffic control technology

In addition, installing remote air traffic control technology can provide a cost-effective improvement in ATC and safety at multiple airports while using fewer skilled air traffic controllers located at one control room – an effective way of managing ATC operating costs over the medium to long term.

We also note innovations in technology segments such as energy-efficient LED airfield ground lighting (AGL) as well as exciting advances in the areas of satellite-based navigation, and solar power solutions for AGL installations.

LED-ing the way

It’s been 15 years since LED technology found application in AGL. Since then, its longevity has been assured by its energy efficiency, ease of maintenance, improved safety, lower environmental impact, and ultimately, cost-efficiency.

From an African perspective, the best-LED solutions offer backward compatibility with traditional halogen lighting implementations, protecting airport investments while embracing the low cost of ownership of LED lighting technology.

In addition, leading solutions feature intelligent designs, incorporating advances such as software-based manageability and dual-purpose powerline communications, which likewise look to the future while embracing cost efficiencies.

Solar

Adding to the advances in LED lighting in AGL applications, we’ve seen increasing use of solar energy in this technology area.

Harnessing the earth’s most abundant energy source – the sun – solar cells collect energy and convert it into usable electricity. But solar is an intermittent energy source, which limits its use at night. Lately, however, breakthroughs in the use of rechargeable batteries for solar energy storage in GLS systems has been the cause of much interest, and smart systems take specific geographic conditions such as the minimum hours of sunshine into consideration, ensuring that solar AGL systems never run out of battery power.

Leading solar-powered AGL solutions further stand out for their smart management of the solar energy feeding into batteries – needed both for efficiency and to protect batteries from overcharging.

This will stand African airports in good stead as they seek to build low-risk investment cases that won’t break the bank and bring cutting-edge safety to smaller airports.

Satellite

On the other end of the scale are future technologies such as satellite-based navigation systems, which are gradually replacing ground-based systems.

And, as noted above, airports must keep an eye on initiatives like Next-Generation and SESAR – specifically, integration between the two programmes. There’s no indication currently that Africa will strategically modernise its airspace to the extent of the Next-Generation initiative, or overhaul its traffic management in emulation of SESAR, but various entities are investing in this area and will be looked to for leadership.

Remote control towers

Another avenue worth exploring for local use is remote control air traffic control towers (ATC), which replace on-site air traffic controllers using cameras and data communication links.

Where operational budgets are lacking, an ATC tower configuration consisting of a central hub managing multiple airfields remotely, provides a uniquely African-suited solution for air traffic control. It has the potential to quickly improve air traffic safety in outlying areas, bringing more destinations into the fold of achieving the required safety standards necessary for airlines to permit the operation of scheduled flights to an airport. In turn, an increase in scheduled flights benefits the local economy by creating improved regional access for business and tourism.

Partner right

The latest technological advances are highly applicable to Africa’s challenges around civil aviation safety, as well as its above-average budget constraints and creaky technological legacy. It’s not just a matter of meeting the needs of airports previously considered sub-economical, it has enormous potential for regional air travel expansion, with knock-on economic benefits for African countries and the continent as a whole.

The continent’s needs can best be met by providers with the skills, experience and vendor relationships to satisfy the needs of civil and military airports.

The credentials most needed are strong OEM relationships for cutting-edge navigational aid systems, including radar, instrument landing systems (ILS), runway lights, precision approach systems, direction finders and weather observation systems.

But no less critical is a full range of services, ranging from manufacturing to implementation, support and maintenance of cutting-edge, as well as legacy aviation equipment.

And to meet Africa’s needs for new installations, as well as maintenance and repair of legacy equipment, which are still so prevalent in the region, providers need expertise in systems design, solution integration, installation, maintenance, obsolescence management and repairs.

Source:bizcommunity

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Aviation

Lufthansa and SWISS partner Airlink to offer convenient travel connections in Southern Africa

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Lufthansa and SWISS Aircraft (Source: Lufthansa Group website)

Lufthansa and SWISS are partnering with Airlink, to offer customers access to over 25 domestic destinations in South Africa, including Bloemfontein, George, Upington, Skukuza, Nelspruit, Hoedspruit and Port Elizabeth – as well as over 20 regional destinations in Southern Africa, such as Gaborone, Kasane, Vilanculos, Maun, Victoria Falls, Maputo, Windhoek, Harare, Lusaka, Ndola, Bulawayo and many more.

The interline agreement which came into effect in January 2021, allows customers the convenience of purchasing a single ticket to or from a multitude of destinations in Southern Africa, via Airlink’s gateways in Johannesburg and Cape Town, therefore offering a truly seamless travel experience across both airlines.

“The Lufthansa Group is pleased to offer our customers even more travel options and convenience through our partnership with Airlink. We value Airlink as an important and reliable partner in the restart of our South African operations, and look forward to exploring further opportunities to widen the scope of our joint collaboration. This
partnership represents another milestone in further enhancing our network, and expressing the Lufthansa Group’s commitment to South Africa,” says Dr. André Schulz, General Manager Sales Southern and East Africa, Lufthansa Group.

Airlink CEO, Mr. Rodger Foster added: “We are proud and excited about our commercial interline agreement with Lufthansa and SWISS. We have a deep respect for these airlines, their values and global reach. We are confident that the partnership will provide our respective customers with a wider choice of travel options through the convenient interconnectivity of our respective flights at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport and Cape Town International Airport.

The Lufthansa and SWISS agreement with Airlink applies to tickets sold through LH.com, swiss.com and flyairlink.com – as well as through local travel agencies.

Jointly issued by Airlink and Lufthansa Group

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Qatar Airways Expands Africa Network with Increase in Flight Frequencies

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Qatar Airways Aircraft (Source: YouTube)

Cape Town, Casablanca and Tunis will increase to five weekly flights, while Johannesburg will increase to 18 weekly flights, offering passengers more flexible and reliable travel options

Airline’s young mixed fleet of sustainable aircraft has enabled it to continue flying throughout the pandemic and rebuild its global network to more than 800 weekly flights to over 120 destinations via the Best Airport in the Middle East

Qatar Airways continues to be the leading global carrier connecting Africa, operating one of the largest and most reliable networks in the region. Having become the largest international carrier during the early stages of the pandemic, the airline has applied its unrivalled knowledge of global passenger flows and booking trends to rebuild its Africa network to 23 destinations and more than 100 weekly flights.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: “We are proud to be the leading international carrier connecting Africa with Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Middle East and the U.S., offering more flexible travel options and a global network of flights that passengers, trade and business partners can rely on. Having launched three new destinations in Africa with Abuja, Accra and Luanda joining our network in 2020, we continue to demonstrate our commitment to the region by adding new routes and steadily increasing frequencies across the continent. With the resumption of Alexandria and Cairo, we will operate over 100 weekly flights to and from Africa with connections via the Best Airport in the Middle East, Hamad International Airport, to our global network of over 120 destinations. As global travel recovers in 2021, we look forward to further expanding our network and offering more connections to and from Africa.”

In line with the airline’s steady rebuild of its Africa network, Qatar Airways plans to increase frequencies to the following destinations:

  • Alexandria (two weekly flights resumed 25 January)
  • Cairo (up to 16 weekly flights resumed 18 January)
  • Cape Town (increasing to five weekly flights from 1 February)
  • Casablanca (increased to five weekly flights from 21 January)
  • Durban (increasing to three weekly flights from 14 February)
  • Johannesburg (increasing to 18 weekly flights from 26 January)
  • Maputo (increasing to three weekly flights from 14 February)
  • Tunis (increased to five weekly flights from 24 January)

The national carrier of the State of Qatar continues to rebuild its network, which currently stands at over 120 destinations with plans to increase to over 130 by the end of March 2021.

Qatar Airways has become the first global airline in the world to achieve the prestigious 5-Star COVID-19 Airline Safety Rating by international air transport rating organisation, Skytrax. This follows HIA’s recent success as the first airport in the Middle East and Asia to be awarded a Skytrax 5-Star COVID-19 Airport Safety Rating. These recognitions provides assurance to passengers across the world that airline health and safety standards are subject to the highest possible standards of professional, independent scrutiny and assessment. For full details of all the measures that have been implemented onboard and in HIA, please visit qatarairways.com/safety.

Passengers can book flights with peace of mind, knowing that Qatar Airways offers unlimited date changes and fee-free refunds for all tickets issued before 30 April 2021, for travel completed by 31 December 2021. The carrier’s industry-leading flexible booking policy also provides the permanent feature of exchanging tickets for a travel voucher with 10% additional value for all customers booking travel via qatarairways.com. For full terms and conditions visit qatarairways.com/Flexibility.

A multiple award-winning airline, Qatar Airways was named ‘World’s Best Airline’ by the 2019 World Airline Awards, managed by Skytrax. It was also named ‘Best Airline in the Middle East’, ‘World’s Best Business Class’, and ‘Best Business Class Seat’, in recognition of its ground-breaking Business Class experience, Qsuite. The Qsuite seat layout is a 1-2-1 configuration, providing passengers with the most spacious, fully private, comfortable and social distanced Business Class product in the sky. Qsuite is available on flights to more than 45 destinations including Kuala Lumpur, London, Melbourne and New York. It is the only airline to have been awarded the coveted ‘Skytrax Airline of the Year’ title, which is recognised as the pinnacle of excellence in the airline industry, five times.

Issued by Qatar Airways

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Congo Airways Orders Two Embraer E195-E2 Jets

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Congo Airways Embraer Aircraft (Source: Embraer)

Just six months after their first E2 order, Congo Airways has placed a firm order for two E195-E2 jets. This is in addition to their existing two aircraft order for the smaller E190-E2. The four aircraft deal has a total value of USD 272 million at current list prices. This new firm order will be included in Embraer’s 2020 fourth quarter backlog.

Desire Bantu, CEO of Congo Airways said, “We see an opportunity in our market and the crisis we are all facing for Congo Airways to emerge stronger – which is why we are not waiting to place this further order. These new jets will allow us to extend our passenger and cargo operations regionally to high demand destinations such as Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Abidjan.

As we prepare for future success, we will have the flexibility, and the right sized, most efficient aircraft, to serve our customers as the market returns.”

“Africa has for too long been thought of as a market of mostly low frequencies and long thin routes. As airlines start ramp up their operations, the E2 family of aircraft is perfectly positioned to right size routes previously operated by narrowbodies, while keeping frequencies and adjusting capacity to new levels,” said Cesar Pereira, vice president of Europe, Middle East and Africa, Embraer Commercial Aviation. “Congo Airways will benefit from the flexibility provided by the common cockpit on the E2 jet family meaning their flight crews can transition seamlessly between variants.”

The E195-E2 will be configured in a dual class 120 seat layout, 12 in business, 108 in economy. An additional 25% capacity when compared to the 96-seat configuration chosen by Congo Airways for their E190-E2s. The E2 deliveries are expected to begin in 2022 with Embraer and Congo Airways continuing to review the potential to anticipate the beginning of the deliveries. There are currently 206 Embraer aircraft operating in Africa with 56 airlines in 29 countries.

Source: Embraer

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