BA Africa growth & opportunities…Back to Forum
Anonymous14 Sep 2012
In maintaining Freetown, and starting with Monrovia, BA has demonstrated that it thinks good money can be made from investing in Africa.
Sierra Leone grew 5.7% in 2011 and Liberia 6.9%.
But BA and Oneworld remain FAR behind other carriers and alliances in the Africa continent, and are not positioned to capture the oil & gas and premium leisure market, and traffic from other rampant business growth.
Air France very aggressively peruse the oil and gas traffic in West and Central Africa (not cheap airfares!), their partners KLM expanding in east and southern Africa, and Kenya Airways have a vast network, capturing not just European traffic, but also Mid-East, Indian, and other Asian traffic
Have Brussels Airlines, Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines, Egyptair, Ethiopian and SAA
BA & Iberia and their network is poor by comparison, but I feel it will be quite easy for them to change that, by using only 2 or 3 slot pairs per day.
Routes to this continent can also allow for high aircraft utilization, a market that is tolerant to one stop tags affording exposure to different markets whilst keeping costs down, and whilst 787, A330 & A380 are not in the fleet, it does have the aircraft ideal for most destinations.
This has been discussed on another thread, but I feel this continent, and its vast opportunities, is worthy of its own discussion. My interest in Africa is both professional and personal and feel BA and UK PLC would benefit from greater accessibility to and from key destinations not yet served by current BA routes.
So where do you wish BA had a flight to, for either business reasons, or for that holiday. Where as a shareholder so you feel there would be ripe rewards?
I will list some ideas here, which I think demonstrate their viability and efficient use of resources (planes).
Abidjan, Ivory Coast – served 3 x weekly 767. Already have daily services from SN & AF. This used to be Africa’s 4th largest economy, then had unrest, but now seems to be calmer. A tag from here could then go to Monrovia, with the Freetown route being tagged to Dakar, Senegal. I would suggest Abidjan as a tag to Accra, but that route is self sufficient.
Port Harcourt, combined with Douala/Yaounde and Libreville – 6 flights weekly, 3 each stopping in Cameroon and Gabon for crew rest, which are safer and more desirable than Port Harcourt. AF & LH offer daily A330 services via Abuja. No cheapo fares on any of these! Could be a triangle routing and like Freetown/Monrovia, offers efficient utilization.
East & Southern Africa
3 x weekly LHR – Kigali-Harare 777-200 or 767. Harare would be self sufficient, but as I understand from other threads, not ideal for crew rest. Kigali is also worthy of service for both business & tourist traffic, so this could be a joint route. That I think Rwandair should become a oneworld airline and hub airport for Oneworld I have suggested in other discussions.
Harare could be combined with Lusaka, but as a tag this presents difficult utility of aircraft with potential unpopular schedules.
3 x weekly 767 LHR-Kilimanjaro-Zanzibar. KLM does VERY well with Kilimanjaro, but no European airline serves Zanzibar yet. Both are leisure markets, but in some cases high level with many willing and wanting to go in J class.
Following are bit more adventurous
LHR – Maputo-Durban – 3 x weekly 777. The Mozambique economy has been doing well for a while and now there are proven large gas reserves. Durban many on this forum have been desiring this for while, but BA probably wanted to focus on Joburg, but this provides another option, and with BA Comair providing feed, this routing could be successful.
Another idea: LHR-Windhoek-Gaborone, 3 x weekly 767. Gabs was previously served by 747 via Joburg, but the economy has grown further since then, and Namibia is also doing well, but does not have a European carrier serving it. A 767 has the range and is well sized for thin but long routes such as these.
So there are some suggestions here, but as you can see, will substantially increase coverage, BA have the aircraft and the slots, and these routes are all for growing economies or will attract a healthy and wealthy niche.
But where do you think is missing?14 Sep 2012
Sparkyflyer, thanks for your research, it’s really interesting.
I love the Kilimanjaro idea, half of all VS pax going to Nairobi seem to be climbing it! Also, important with nearby cities, etc.
Durban could easily be supported by feed from Comair who franchise BA.14 Sep 2012
Thanks le tigre
If you see on the link below, Willie Walsh was thinking of this a while ago.
But I think combining it with Kigali or Zanzibar would make it super successful. The latter is becoming an exotic beach resort rivalling Maldives, Caribbean and most likely Mombasa.
Glad you agree with me about the Comair feed out of Durban . . . .14 Sep 2012
On a tangent, but not totally unrelated, could BA look to improve the quality of aircraft used on African routes. Dar tends to be a key destination for me and it is served by a 767 with the first generation CW (refreshed 767 is just veneer to extend the lifetime of these airframes).
I would like to see at the very least a 3 class 777, however judging by the fact that Emirates and SWISS F classes are always full when I fly them, it would make economic sense to send down a 4 class 777 to Dar.
Additionally would it be too much to plan a Sunday night departure to Dar and a Friday from Dar. At the moment the Tues night departure to Dar and Friday morning from Dar makes this all too short a stop.
Transiting via Nairobi is a nightmare (when you have the option of flying EK and transiting via DXB F Class lounge or LX via ZRH).
Perhaps a better service in terms of product and timing on the longer African routes would be a better starting point than new destinations14 Sep 2012
Many of the cities which sparkyflyer has identified are ones to which BA has flown in the past:
Abidjan (in conjunction with Accra -at least until the early 00’s)
Kilimanjaro – until the early 1980’s
Douala and Libreville – inherited (together with Kinshasa) in 1988 from BCal
Durban – operated from 1982 until 1997 (first via Harare and later via Johannesburg)
Gaborone – inherited from BCal in 1988 when it was a DC10 service via Lusaka and later changed to a B747 service via Johannesburg
Harare (service resumed in 1980 after a 15 year interval and then dropped mid 00’s)
Lilongwe (and previously Blantyre) was also served variously through Harare, Entebbe, Nairobi.
On a historical note, in or about 1985 BCal opened the route to Gaborone as a tag to their Lusaka service when it looked as if Commonwealth countries might suspend their air services as a result of sanctions against apartheid South Africa. This was a time when Qantas suspended their service from Johannesburg in favour of Harare. The idea was that travellers to and from apartheid South Africa would have to fly via neighbouring countries.
I’d like to see BA return to Mahe especially as now there are no direct airlinks between UK and Seychelles.
For oil revenue (but certainly not human rights), there’s Malabo.14 Sep 2012
Hi SenatorGold I think between us we could write a biography of routes in and out of Africa for the past 30 years!
But I did not know BA did Kili/Arusha until the early 80s!
Many of these routes were operated by BA, many as a consequence of the BCal purchase, but many of thse are far more prosperous now, some sadly having been to a pretty awful place but now bouncing back (Sierra Leone & Liberia for example, which was a BCal 707 & then A310 before civil war set in).
Gaborone their economy really started booming in the 80s, and so would have been a logical tag on to LUN, especially as at the same time the Zambian economy started to really decline. Also the 707s were ready for retirement, and the DC-10 maybe a bit too big for LUN only traffic.
Mahe could be on the cards, but I suspect as an LGW route.14 Sep 2012
Hi Sparkyflyer – a biography of routes to Africa over the past 30 years would be fun. Actually that’s been discussed to some extent in the “Historic routes” thread.
I agree with you that Mahe would be likely to be served ex LGW. Possibly Kilimanjaro could be served from LGW too – why not LGW-JRO-SEZ?14 Sep 2012
Indeed SenatorGold, I wonder if Mahe would be better of flown via JRO, and offer a very attractive two centre holiday. But also there could be a LGW-JRO-Zanzibar, so maybe 4 flights a week to JRO, with 2 going to each of Zanzibar & Mahe, with crew resting in JRO.
I think maybe though that LHR would be slightly preferable, as some PAX would want to combine trips with Nairobi & Dar Es Salaam, LHR flights.
Malabo you are right, but have excluded that from my list of suggestions as it is served by Iberia, and also for the reason you state.
Going back to Douala, Libreville and Kinshasa, these routes I now recall were started when Bcal retired their 707s, adn replaced them with A310s, which did not have the legs to do Lusaka non stop. They did not stay in the fleet long, and where then replaced by DC-10s.17 Sep 2012
Where do I think is missing?
To add to your very comprehensive post, I would like to include the following 4 As:
Alexandria: previously served by BMed.
Asmara: Eritrean has announced it will be cancelling its route to Frankfurt, leaving LH as the sole European carrier.
Addis Ababa: I believe bmi/BA is also dropping this route.
Antananarivo: currently only served by AF and Corsair.
New routes seem to be a mystery, unless you are actually working in the business!
Simon17 Sep 2012
Nice one Sparky. BA could add Lome and or Cotonou to their Abidjan flight, where there are excellent beachside hotels a short distance from the airport, and both countries are safe, so no hazardous crossing of town as is the case with ABJ I believe. Both places are used a transit points to the Nigerian market and many traders etc feel safer doing business from there than from Nigeria itself.
AF would I’m sure react very strongly to anyone trying to encroach on their “territories” but that would only make things better for us travellers.
Kilimanjaro is served by Edelweiss Air with direct flights. Once a week, Sun/Mon, night out, day back. The only way I’d climb Kilimanjaro is with a helicopter!!!18 Sep 2012
IMHO, Durban could easily support a direct LHR service 3-4x per week. VS is probably a better candidate since BA will be reluctant to cannibalize Comair traffic and SAA milks the JNB-DUR route. DUR passengers would never fly via Maputo vs via JNB.18 Sep 2012
Hi LP & Simonhb
Lome & Cotonou would be very exotic for BA! I really do not have much confidence in their imagination and think this would be off the wall thinking for them. But do you think the traffic would make it worthwhile?
Also is Abidjan that not ideal to have as a crew rest? Abidjan was served years ago but since then they have had a civil war. I suggested tagging it with Monrovia but do you think traffic would be worthy?
On Simonhbs ideas, I was disappointed Addis was dropped, but think if BA were evaluating the route based on traffic with BMIs A320s with a stop, then it is no suprise it was dropped, as the offering of BMI for such a long flight, on a small aircraft, with a stop, arriving in the middle of the night, was totally uncompetitive.
Why choose that over an Ethiopean 767 non stop arriving 6/7 in the morning. Maybe BA decided they could just not compete with ET. . .
Pity as I though they could have used Addis as a stop and crew rest for other regional routes. I now think they couild have Kigali to do that and let Rwandair become a regional partner.
I cannot see Asmara or Antananarivo having sufficient traffic, but correct me if you think otherwise. . .
Alexandria could be coupled with Sharm or even Luxor potentially, but with A321s. . .777s used previously for Sharm were probably far too big.
BonStein Do you think Durban PAX would mind a one hour stop without getting off the plane, as opposed to a plane change in Joburg with the hassle of that, as well as the infamous baggage stealing risk (at that specific airport) that I heard is prevalent there?
On Durban-London, Comair wanted to operate that themselves, so I reckon would welcome a direct routing.18 Sep 2012
I think its first two bases will be Nairobi and Dar Es Salaam, and then move over to Accra and Luanda for the next stages. They have chosen dynamic economies, and will be interesting if the eastern and western hubs will feed each other, and if there will be through ticketing and baggage =.18 Sep 2012