Wednesday, April 10, 2013

► ANGOLA: More foreign carriers making a beeline to Luanda's door as calls for higher route frequencies grow louder.

Angola flagRAM - Royal Air Maroc (AT) and Ethiopian Airlines (ET) have joined a growing chorus of carriers servicing the Angolan capital, Luanda, in asking the Instituto Nacional da Aviação Civil (the National Institute of Civil Aviation - INAVIC) to increase their frequencies on the lucrative route. 

According to Royal Air Maroc's station manager for Angola, Abdelmounhim Hailoua, RAM is currently awaiting a response from INAVIC regarding a possible increase in their current twice weekly flights to Casablanca:
"We operate the Casablanca / Luanda route on Mondays and Fridays in a codeshare with TAAG, so we want to discuss and settle on an increased number of frequencies; while already requested, we have unfortunately not been authorized (to start them), " he lamented.
An identical request came from Ethiopian Airlines, who are restricted to a thrice weekly Addis Ababa - Luanda service:
"We have been in Angola for over 25 years and we have a certain tradition in this type of market; to consolidate our position by offering more (flights) and better(services)," an Ethiopian official said.
Source [Angop]

The United Arab Emirates recently "requested" TAAG Linhas Aéreas de Angola (DT) to boost its flights between Dubai and Luanda claiming that the increase would help stimulate trade, though in likelihood, the Emirate is looking for an excuse for Emirates (EK) to boost its own paltry 3x weekly flights to Luanda.

And the queue doesn't stop there. 

INAVIC is reportedly in the process of negotiating Bilateral Air Service Agreements with the civil aviation authorities of Botswana, the Central African Republic, Egypt, Benin, Cameroon and Tanzania all of whom are keen to get their foot in the door.

Awash in petrodollars and enjoying peace after a 20 year long civil war that ended in 2002 with the bloody death of UNITA leader, Jonas Savimbi, Angola has now set its sights on developing its enormous reserves of oil, gas and diamonds into becoming a regional powerhouse to rival that of South Africa and Nigeria. Luanda itself has now become the most expensive city in Africa, and one of the most costly in the world to live in as a result of the boom. Air tickets cost accordingly. A growing middle class, too, has developed a taste for travel.

But despite the boom, Luanda has often stressed that it is unwilling to open the door too widely to foreign competition while national carrier, TAAG, remains unprofitable, and therefore unable to compete on an even footing with the likes of Emirates et al. As a result, foreign carriers may end up having to wait quite a while longer before they get their wish.