Al-Ahram Weekly Online   7 - 13 May 2009
Issue No. 946
Sky High
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

Marketing Africa

Officials of Libyan carrier, Afriqiyah, revealed in Cairo plans to expand in the Dark Continent

Fathallah, Ettir and Sawese

Libya's young carrier, Afriqiyah, has held the fifth annual sales and marketing congress for travel agents in Cairo last week. Attended by 77 travel agents from 26 African, European and Arab countries, airline representatives and area mangers discussed through the four-day meetings commercial strategy to implement expansion plans of the carrier.

According to Khalid Sawese, airline Commercial Manager, the airline which has been established eight years ago, moved quickly to possess a fleet that would meet its future plans to expand into the black continent's carrier number one.

"We have ordered the purchase of 20 Airbus that are scheduled to complete deliverance by 2010," he explained at a press conference that took part in Cairo. "The new three A330 and one A319 aircraft, due to be delivered within three months, will help planned expansion of network to reach new destinations in South Africa, China and Congo," Sawese added.

According to Rammah Ettir, airline Executive Manager, this year's congress dealt with the impact of the global crisis on air travel business and how to handle such impact on airline expansion plans.

"During meeting sessions, we received agents' suggestions to offer new products that meet the changes in tourism and both air transport business and industry," Ettir explained.

In this concern, travel agents highlighted the need to activate a holiday programme through Afriqiyah network. "The African market is a promising one, being badly in need of air transport services among African countries from one side and among African and European countries on the other side," stated Essam Ali, Afriqiyah's agent in Egypt.

"Thus, Afriqiyah has a good chance to develop the products it can compete through, offering African passengers a unique holiday promotions, particularly on routes like Cairo which is one of the most attractive destinations to sell," Ali explained.

Starting this summer, Afriqiyah will operate 7 new routes; to Johannesburg, Cape Town, Brazzaville, Manila, Dhaka, Beijing and Guangzhou.

"These routes actually can work to develop trade movement between Africa and Asia as well as boosting tourism and travel movement in between," added Ali.

Afriqiyah fleet is painted in Red, Green, Yellow and Black; the colours of Africa. As for the logo it stands as (9.9.99) referring to (September 9, 1999), the birth date of the African Union, for which this airline service is devoted in the first place.

"Afriqiyah Airways was an inspiration that has come to materialize the dream of linking the African countries directly with one another, hence came the name 'Afriqiyah' which stands for African," Afriqiyah Airways Network Manger, Mukhtar Fathallah told Al-Ahram Weekly. "African passengers suffer to move from one African country to another. They have to go through the long connecting flights from Africa to Europe and then back to Africa again. Soon, this will end," he added.

Fathallah explained that establishing the Libyan carrier was also a means of breaking the monopoly imposed by the international carries that had been controlling, in addition to passengers' traffic, most of the mail services and air cargo operations in the continent.

Afriqiyah was founded in 2001 as a state affiliated airline. Later, the company's capital was divided into shares managed by the Libya -- Africa Investment Portfolio.

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