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.
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.
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.
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.
Amadeus signs enhanced technology collaboration with EgyptAir
Amadeus has signed a long-term, comprehensive technology partnership with EgyptAir. The deal is an extension of an existing relationship between the Egyptian flag-carrier and one of the world’s travel technology leaders and comes as the airline refreshes its digital offering ahead of a renewed period of growth.
Yehia Zakaria, chief executive, EgyptAir Group, said: “Amadeus is in a position to support EgyptAir throughout its digital transformation, allowing us to provide customers with a best-in-class travel experience. Once these advanced solutions, including a new digital e-commerce platform are fully implemented, our employees will have the freedom and flexibility to better serve our passengers around the world.”
Included in the deal is Amadeus Revenue Management, which accurately forecasts demand by analyzing customer purchase behavior, competitor pricing, and yield capacity. New digital solutions will also deliver a frictionless web and mobile experience to travelers while Amadeus Altéa Booking Intelligence will help minimize fraud. Finally, EgyptAir will migrate to a new loyalty platform, where members will benefit from customer-centric experiences based upon traveler insights.
Maher Koubaa, Vice President, EMEA, Airlines, Amadeus, said: “Amadeus has long been a trusted partner of EgyptAir and the renewal we have signed will extend the relationship for many years to come. It also deepens the connection, with the flag-carrier positioning itself for future growth in the Middle East and beyond, thanks to the digital upgrade and operational enhancements that this suite of innovative solutions will deliver for EgyptAir, its staff and customers.”
Amadeus continues to build its position in Egypt and the Middle East, with discussions ongoing with a number of other carriers in the region.
EgyptAir is the state-owned flag carrier of Egypt. The airline is headquartered at Cairo International Airport, its main hub, and operates scheduled passenger and freight services to 81 destinations in the Middle East, Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas. EgyptAir is a member of Star Alliance.
Ava Airways CEO, Amb. Olivier Arrindell set to connect Africa and the Americas
Ava Airways CEO, Amb. Olivier Arrindell (Photo: Image Supplied)
The Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC) has reported over $38 billion USD in airline ticket sales transacted between January and July 2022 in the Americas. Another estimated 20% of that revenue is booked outside the ARC. The best investment right now for the next fifteen years before the slowdown, would be within an airline that is based in the Americas with the right strategy and plans, said Amb. Olivier Arrindell.
The Global Diaspora Summit a few years ago was the culmination of a worldwide dialogue process among Africans on the continent and the Diaspora on the content, programs and plan of action for the AU’s Diaspora program. The outcome of the various consultations was consolidated by three African Diaspora Ministerial Conferences between 2007 and 2012 into a Draft Declaration to be considered by the Summit.
The African Union has approved the following definition of the African Diaspora: “The African Diaspora consists of peoples of African origin living outside the continent, irrespective of their citizenship and nationality and who are willing to contribute to the development of the continent and the building of the African Union.” With this being said our contribution is going to be in the form of consistent Air connectivity via commercial scheduled air transportation of passengers and Cargo between Africa and Central America/Caribbean.
The Americas population of over 1.2 billion and with 54% of the population being of African descent is the largest African diaspora outside of Africa and within emerging economies and strong economies.
Amb. Olivier Arrindell goal via Ava Airways is to implement the concrete ways and means of harnessing the abundant human and material resources in Africa and beyond. And to advance the Socio-economic development of both the Continent, in close and sustainable partnership with the African Diaspora in the Americas via Air connectivity. There are well established Air transportation agreements in place with some African nations and Caribbean countries. However, there is no adequate air transportation system between Africa and Central America/Caribbean and socio-economic development cannot take place. Therefore, Ava Airways as a company have already put in place all the necessary steps to prepare for the scheduled inaugural flight between mainland Africa and Central America/Caribbean via its hub in Santo Domingo.
A three-day business trip in Santo Domingo where you buy your goods followed by another four days in Ocho Rios or Montego Bay Jamaica on the beach sounds far more attractive then flying to the Middle East. However, Arrindell believes proper education must be provided about the Caribbean. He is very much positive about the near future because Ava Airways, as a company, are set fast on the course of economic connectivity.
Arrindell have concluded with the adoption in his last board meeting to include 11 major African cities into their master plan route network to provide Africa a gateway to the Americas that also include a visa free travel to some destination which will:
- Take concrete measures that would promote and sustain linkages between Africa and the Diaspora in the following priority areas: trade and investment, science and technology, travel and tourism, communication and transportation infrastructure, energy, information, communication technology and cultural industries;
- Ava Airways flights will enable the establishment of multi-stakeholder working groups of Africa, CARICOM, and Latin America citizens which will establish economic cooperation (including infrastructure of sea and air links, trade and investment, travel and tourism).
The near future of Air transportation between Africa, Central America/Caribbean is predicted to be extremely profitable to those who can properly connect Africa and the Americas with a business model that is innovative and has a clear understanding of the dynamics of our people.
Etihad Airways launches flights to Johannesburg, Cape Town and Zanzibar
Etihad Airways (Image: Etihad)
Etihad Airways today announced three new quarantine-free destinations for the coming winter season. This November, the airline will begin flying to Johannesburg and Cape Town in South Africa, and the beautiful Indian Ocean island of Zanzibar. The new additions to Etihad’s network mean the UAE’s national carrier will be operating to 70 destinations across 47 countries.
Etihad Airways has launched a sale on fares to Johannesburg, Cape Town and Zanzibar, valid until midnight on 6 October 2021. Available on a first come, first served basis, guests can enjoy return fares starting from AED 995 in Economy and AED 3995 in Business class.
Tony Douglas, Group Chief Executive Officer, Etihad, said: “We’re proud to be launching Etihad’s newest destinations in Africa this winter and we’re confident our guests will find they are all incredible places to visit.
“Johannesburg is an important route on our network and offers vital connectivity to and from the southern African region. On the southern coast, Cape Town is a breathtaking part of the world, with something to offer the most discerning traveller. Likewise, the beautiful island of Zanzibar will complement our network to the Maldives and Seychelles offering more choice for leisure travellers looking to enjoy the glorious Indian ocean.
“We are also thrilled to offer connectivity for travellers from both countries to visit our home the UAE over the winter months. With the world’s greatest show, Expo 2020, opening now there has never been a better time to visit Abu Dhabi and the UAE.”
Etihad will start flights to Johannesburg, South Africa’s biggest city, from 25 November. At the same time, Etihad will launch its operation to the stunning coastal city of Cape Town. Both destinations will operate three times per week on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. The route will be serviced by Etihad’s flagship and most-sustainable aircraft, the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, with 28 Business Studios, 78 Economy Space seats and 184 Economy seats.
The new service to Zanzibar will operate from 26 November giving residents in the UAE the ideal winter holiday. The route will also offer easy connectivity for guests travelling from Europe and North America and transiting through Abu Dhabi. The scheduled flights will operate on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays on the airline’s Airbus A320 aircraft offering 8 seats in Business and 150 seats in Economy.
Guests flying with Etihad can fly with complete peace of mind thanks to the Etihad Wellness programme, which includes complimentary COVID-19 insurance, valid for travel until 31 March 2022, for all passengers. The airline’s innovative Verified to Fly service also simplifies the process of authenticating travel documents before travel. With Verified to Fly travellers can validate their documents before arriving at the airport, giving them the confidence that they have met all essential government and airline travel requirements before travelling to the airport.
Etihad was the first airline in the world to fully vaccinate its crew on board. The airline also requires 100% of its passengers to show a negative PCR test before boarding which protects the inflight environment, now recognised to be one of the best in the world. Consequently, Etihad was awarded Diamond status at the inaugural APEX Health Safety powered by SimpliFlying audit in January 2021.