Tuesday, June 25, 2013

► ALGERIA: Air Algérie's turnaround plan begins to bear fruit as Africa now a "priority" market.

Air Algérie logoAir Algérie's (AH) turnaround plan is beginning to pay off with the number of passengers uplifted increasing by more than 13% during the first four months of 2013. The carrier's traffic has grown by 13.61% on 2011/2012 resulting in a market share growth of 49%, CEO Mohamed Salah Boultif announced at a press conference in Algiers on Saturday.

Air Algérie 737-800NG
Air Algérie 737-800NG (Boeing)
In his address, Mr Boultif stated that his airline's international network had seen a growth of 17.76% in passenger numbers buoyed by rising occupancy rates of 62%. Overall, Air Algérie's European network saw the highest growth in traffic with 46.89%, followed by Africa (36.18%), North America (26.14%), the Middle East (19.24%), Asia (8.43%), and the French market with an increase of 7.26%. Domestically, a modest rise of 6.85% was recorded despite the entry of Tassili Airlines (SF) onto the local scheduled services scene earlier this year.

As a result of the strong customer response, Air Algérie will boost this year's summer capacity by 11% by leasing two B747s and two unspecified medium range aircraft. This year's high season is expected to be especially heavy given that it coincides with the Muslim holy months of Ramadan and Umrah.

In total, the Algerian national carrier moved 4.08million passengers during the first trimester of this year; a growth of 14.25% on last year. Mr. Boultif felt that these "very promising" indicators show that the new strategic vision for the airline's medium term development plan "is beginning to bear fruit." 
"Our development plan aims to not put the company on the road to competitiveness and profitability, but also, and especially, to ensure its full and complete sustainability through a major investment program," he said. 

In this regard, the company plans to open four new African routes during Winter 2013/2014 (previously said to be Johannesburg, Conakry, Ndjamena and Lagos) with the continent now considered a "priority." France's Aigle Azur (ZI), a strong local competitor on intra-Algerian routes, has also announced plans to expand into Africa with Dakar top of its list.

Regarding the airline's fleet renewal and expansion plans, Mr Boultif said the acquisition of the new aircraft is still under consideration with financing to come via a USD620million (DZD49billion) loan facility extended by the National Bank of Algeria (Banque Nationale D'Algerie - BNA).