Thursday, August 16, 2012

► ALGERIA: Air Algérie to start Nigeria & South Africa flights but axes Beijing.

Air Algérie logoAlgerian national carrier Air Algérie (AH) has joined the growing list of carriers, both African and international, that are turning their focus towards the long neglected African market in the hopes that it will provide the stimulus needed for sustainable long term growth.

Speaking at The Freedom Forum in the Algerian capital Algiers recently, Air Algérie CEO, Mohamed Salah Boultif, outlined their long term 2012-2017 goals which would primarily aim to turn the airline and Algiers' Houari Boumediene Airport into a transitory hub (akin to Addis Ababa for Ethiopian Airlines/Nairobi for Kenya Airways) for flights into the African interior which had long been neglected due to low seat occupancy.

In order to transform itself, Air Algerie is to acquire "eight new aircraft" which some speculate will include "three more 150 seat aircraft, likely Boeing 737-800s, as well as two freighters to replace their fleet of three B767-300ERs."

Air Algérie's Africa Network
Air Algérie's Africa Network
In terms of future network developments, he described Nigeria and South Africa as being their primary targets for new flights, whilst possibly axing their Algiers - Beijing route, citing "low profitability and fierce competition from other airlines." The long term viability of their Algiers - New York service would also depend on the signing of an Open Skies agreement between Algeria and the United States, he said.
"We're building it [a hub] at the Algiers International Airport," he said "Air Algérie, who 25 years ago was a pioneering company in terms of new African routes, aims to develop new business on this continent, and launch new services to countries like Nigeria and South Africa""
Source [Liberté, Algérie]

The airline would also push to join an airline alliance, though Boultif would not elaborate on any specifics:
"Regarding the membership of Air Algérie in one of the three largest airline alliance in the world, Mr. Boultif said that this important project is among the ten main areas of the development plan recently adopted by the company for the period 2012-2017. "We expect to adhere to the specifications for joining one of these three major alliances. This creates opportunities for the company in the international market and helps strengthen its competitiveness, "he says.On the question of which of the three largest airline alliances in the world "Sky Team", "One World" and "Star Alliance" will ally Air Algérie, its CEO will show "we will go where there's our network "."
Source [Radio Algérie]

Air Algérie Airbus A330
Air Algérie Airbus A330
In terms of passenger numbers and figures, Air Algérie has, during Q1 for 2012, carried 1.914 million passengers up 13.6% on Q1 2011 whilst internationally routed traffic has also increased over the same period, with 1.198 million passengers transported against 1.049 million during the same period of 2011, an increase of 14.18%. As a result, Air Algérie had annual sales of DZD57million (USD$700'000) which necessitated the restructuring of the company's various divisions, with Maintenance and Catering being the top candidates for 51/49 holding Joint Ventures with foreign companies, in order to ensure that future profits are maximized.

In recent months carriers like Turkish Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways, Emirates, Etihad, SAA and RwandAir have aggressively pushed deeper into the still untapped African market. As Europe continues to wallow in the depths of the Eurozone crisis with no real end in sight, expect to see many more carriers suddenly coming to an African airport near you.