The year 2016 has come and is almost gone, but not without leaving some aviation memories behind not only for the entire globe but also for the African continent.
Africa in 2016 had its share of aviation occurrences - some good, some bad and some ugly. In more ways than one, 2016 was a very difficult and challenging year both for indigenous African airlines and foreign airlines flying into Africa.
However, the situation in 2016 wasn’t all gloomy as Africa also experienced some positive aviation developments. Afritraveller’s Chidozie Uzoezie takes a look at the timeline of the major events in African Aviation in 2016.
April 8, 2016: Ethiopian Airlines commenced celebrations to mark its 70 years of successful air transport services. Ethiopian was founded on 21 December 1945 and commenced operations on 8 April 1946.
May 12, 2016: Spanish Airline, Iberia suspended its flight operations into and out of Nigeria due to low passenger traffic.
May 19, 2016: Crash of EgyptAir Flight 804 into the Mediterranean Sea while en route from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport to Cairo International Airport. All 66 people on board including 56 passengers, 7 crew and 3 security personnel were killed.
June 1, 2016: Spanish carrier Iberia suspended flights between Madrid and Luanda, Angola citing bad economic situation of Angola, lack of foreign currency and addition to low patronage.
June 28, 2016: Ethiopian Airlines took delivery of its first Airbus A350 XWBs, making it the first African airline to operate the A350. The aircraft touched down in Addis Ababa on 29 June following a delivery flight from Toulouse, France.
June 30, 2016: United Airlines stopped its service between Lagos, Nigeria and Houston, Texas ending operations on its only African route. The airline cited weakness in the energy sector and difficulties in repatriating money from tickets sold in the country as the reasons.
July 15, 2016: South African Airways and Mango operated Africa’s first ever sustainable Biofuel flights. The flights which were operated by Boeing 737-800s between Johannesburg and Cape Town used biofuel from nicotine-free, hybridised tobacco plant from the Marble Hall area in the Limpopo region of South Africa as part of Project Solaris, a collaboration between South African Airways, Boeing and SkyNRG.
August 3, 2016: Italian carrier, Meridiana launched a weekly service between Lagos, Nigeria and Milan, Italy, filling in the Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) left open by Alitalia which stopped flying to Nigeria in 2015.
August 23, 2016: The first cargo flight landed at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport Enugu, South East Nigeria. The flight which was operated by Ethiopian Airlines’ Boeing 757 cargo plane was commanded by Capt. William Williams.
September 1, 2016: Aerocontractors Airlines of Nigeria suspended scheduled flight operations due to what it described as ‘internal and external environmental factors’. The airline however, resumed scheduled flight services on December 21, 2016.
September 27, 2016: RwandAir took delivery of East Africa’s first Airbus A330 aircraft. The A330-200 nicknamed ‘Ubumwe’ (unity) touched down at Kigali International Airport on September 28 after a delivery flight from Toulouse, France.
October 3, 2016: The first LATAM Airlines flight to South Africa landed in Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International Airport, making LATAM Airlines the only Latin American carrier to operate flights between Latin American and Africa.
October 29, 2016: Emirates ended its four weekly service between Dubai, UAE and Abuja, Nigeria. The airline said the reason for this decision was irregularities in the controversial foreign currency repatriation policy of Nigeria.
November 21, 2016: Nigeria’s Dr. Olumuyiwa Bernard Aliu was re-elected President of the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization in Montreal, Canada for another three years.
December, 20, 2016: Nigeria's Medview Airlines opened a new window to the African West coast with the launch of flight services to Monrovia, Liberia and Freetown, Sierra Leone via Accra Ghana.
December 23, 2016: An Afriqiyah Airways Airbus A320 performing flight 8U209 from Sebha to Tripoli, Libya with 118 passengers and crew onboard was hijacked by two men who claimed to be pro-Gaddafi. The plane however, landed safely in Malta without any serious incident.