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New routes will open African skies in 2017

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The skies over Africa will be abuzz with airlines flying new routes to and across the continent in 2017. Here’s what Elicit Africa could establish will be new routes in the New Year:

  • Air France will offer year-round flights between Paris-CDG and Cape Town International, effective from March 26. At the moment the airline offers a seasonal, thrice-weekly service between the two cities. The all-year service will operate every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.
  • Air France has also announced that it will start direct flights from Accra, the capital of Ghana in West Africa, to Paris-CGG three times a week from 28 February. Air France is expanding on one of the most important markets on the African continent through traffic to and from Europe and North America. Currently, the Accra-Paris route is managed through a partnership between Air France and KLM via Amsterdam.
  • In early January 2017 RwandAir will revert to nonstop flights to Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport. This change will facilitate easy onward travel to Cape Town and Durban.
  • RwandAir will also launch flights to Harare in Zimbabwe by mid January combined with flights to Lusaka in Zambia in a standalone triangular service routing.
  • Even more significant from RwandAir is the introduction of long haul services to Mumbai and later in 2017 to London. It means RwandAir is ready to tap into the market of connecting passengers from further abroad to ensure they fill their new Airbus A330’s. Insider news is that the lack of slots for flights from Kigali to London Heathrow is seen as the key reason why RwandAir is now eying the south London airport Gatwick, the UK capital’s second busiest aviation hub, with easy and fast connections to central London.
  • From April Ethiopian Airlines, probably the fastest-growing carrier in Africa, will introduce flights into the new Victoria Falls International Airport from Addis Ababa.The route is expected to be serviced by either an Airbus 350 or a Boeing 787 with three flights a week. Ethiopian already showed commitment to step up its service to Southern Africa by starting to fly to Cape Town 10 times a week from 2 December (2016), seven of which are non-stop Boeing 787 flights. London bound Cape Town passengers now only have a 2 hour stopover in Addis Ababa.
  • Announced in early December 2016, Ethiopian also said it will introduce a new service of five weekly flights to Oslo via Stockholm from 26 March using the B787 Dreamliner. The inclusion of Oslo in the Ethiopian network is part of the airline’s Vision 2025 programme of connecting Africa with the major world economic and financial centres.
  • Air Seychelles has announced that come March 2017 when they take service of a second Airbus A330-200 they will cater for additional flights to Paris from three to at least four a week. Dusseldorf in Germany has been named as a new European destination to be served with direct flights from Mahe,  the largest island in the Seychelles archipelago.
  • Air Seychelles also announced direct flights to King Shaka International Airport north of Durban in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province starting 30 March. The new Durban route will be operated twice a week with an Airbus A320. When launched it will become the airline’s second route to South Africa after Johannesburg to where the airline now flies five times a week as opposed to the four direct flights during 2016.
  • Qatar Airways announced late in November that two of its 15 new worldwide destinations for 2017 will be to the West African cities of Libreville in Gabon and Douala in Cameroon.
  • Qatar also announced a major upgrade of its Doha to Cape Town service with the introduction of a 412-seat Boeing 777 on the route to replace the airline’s 254-seat B787. The switch means an additional 158 seats per day from Doha to Cape Town, with connections from Beijing, Dubai, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, London, Melbourne, Paris and Perth. Qatar Airways has been serving Cape Town from the Doha hub since 2005, starting operations with four weekly flights via Johannesburg. The airline says it needed to upgrade the service steadily as demand increased.

Then there are the maybes.

  • New Ghanaian airline Goldstar Air plans to start flights to Baltimore Washington International Airport in the US in the first quarter of 2017 if its air operator’s certificate comes through. Ghana hasn’t had a national long-haul carrier since Ghana Airways, one of Africa’s oldest airlines, stopped flying in December 2015.

It’s not all good news.

  • Air Botswana has indefinitely ceased operating flights between Gaborone and Lusaka, as well as Harare. The decision came as part of a route rationalisation exercise to reduce operational costs on non-profitable routes.
  • RwandAir has cut its thrice-weekly leg from Johannesburg to Lusaka, but continues to operate the Kigali-Johannesburg service seven days a week. The carrier says it will still operate its Kigali-Lusaka flights three days a week, which will increase to five weekly flights from January 16.
  • Fastjet suspended three of its services. They are Johannesburg to Victoria Falls, Dar es Salaam to Entebbe, and Dar es Salaam to Nairobi. The low cost African airline is relocating its head office from London Gatwick to Johannesburg in early 2017 with the expectation that that the new CEO, Nico Bezuidenhout, will be eying the South African domestic market, where for the past decade – before joining Fastjet – he managed Mango, South African Airways’ low cost carrier.

Are you aware of new routes to Africa? Mail me on piet.niekerk@contentcows.com…