In more ways than one, 2019 was a memorable year for African aviation and African airlines, with a mixture of positive and negative aviation developments.
Africa in 2019 had its own share of global aviation events - some good, some bad and some ugly. Here, Afritraveller’s Chidozie Uzoezie takes a look at the timeline of some of the major events and developments that shaped African aviation in 2019.
January 31: Air Senegal's first Airbus A330-900neo touched down in Dakar. The brand new aircraft was also the first Airbus A330-900neo to be operated by an African airline.
March 10: On a very sad note, Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 from Addis Ababa to Nairobi crashed, killing all 157 people on board. The Boeing 737 MAX 8 took off at 8:38 am local time from Addis Ababa Bole International Airport and lost contact at 8:44 am.
April 16: Uganda Airlines officially took delivery of its first two Bombardier CRJ900 aircraft. The 2 brand new aircraft registered as 5X-KOB and 5X-EQU and named 'Uganda kob' and 'Equator' touched down at Entebbe Airport on April 23.
May 1: Air Tanzania operated its first ever all-female cockpit crew flight. The Bombardier Q400-8 flight operated from Dar es Salaam to Kilimanjaro and Kilimanjaro to Dar es Salaam. The flight was commanded by Captain Ney Sway.
May 24: Air Namibia suspended its Windhoek-Lagos-Accra service due to diplomatic and immigration issues relating to visas. The route was launched in June 2018.
May 24: Kenya Airways Chief Executive Officer Sebastian Mikosz resigned, citing 'personal grounds'. His resignation was to take effect from 31 December, 2019. Mr Mikosz was appointed Kenya Airways’ CEO in 2017.
May 29: South African Airways CEO, Vuyani Jarana, resigned, citing lack of support and funding from South African government. With his resignation, Jarana became the 8th CEO to resign from the airline in 6 years. Jarana was appointed as South African Airways CEO in September 2018.
June 7: A new Nigerian airline, Ibom Air, commenced scheduled commercial operations, becoming the first commercial airline to be owned and operated by a state government in Nigeria and Africa.
July 6: Nigeria's Air Peace launched its first international long-haul service, with flights between Murtala Muhammed International Airport Lagos and Sharjah Airport in Dubai.
August 28: Uganda Airlines took to the skies again after 20 years of absence. It operated scheduled flights from Kampala to Nairobi in Kenya and Juba in South Sudan.
November 12: Kenya's Silverstone Air suspended operations after Kenyan Civil Aviation Authority grounded its Dash 8 fleet following a spate of accidents and incidents.
November 17: Nigeria’s Air Peace ordered three more Embraer E195-E2 aircraft at the Dubai Air Show. The order was valued at USD 212.6 million.
November 19: Ghana and Boeing signed a memorandum of understanding at the Dubai Air Show for three Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner airplanes worth $877.5 million at list prices. They also signed a purchase deal for 6 Dash 8-400.
November 19: Air Senegal ordered 8 Airbus A220-300 narrow-body aircraft at the Dubai Air Show. The deal was valued at about $732 million at list prices.
November 24: On another sad note, a Dornier 228-200 aircraft belonging to Busy Bee Airlines crashed in Goma, Congo Republic, killing all 17 passengers and 2 crew onboard. The plane crashed shortly after taking off from Goma Airport on a flight to Beni.
December 5: South African Airways officially entered into business rescue following several years of unprofitability. The move was to create a better return for the company’s creditors and shareholders.
December 9: Qatar Airways officially acquired a 60% stake in Rwanda’s new International Airport project located in Bugesera near Kigali. The new $1.3 billion airport is expected to handle 14 million passengers a year when completed in 2032.
December 10: Congo Airways ordered two Embraer E175 aircraft, with purchase rights for two more. The deal was valued at USD 194.4 million at current list prices with all purchase rights exercised.