• Fly Angola has suspended flights indefinitely due to financial woes caused by the devaluation of the Angolan currency and unsustainable operating costs.
  • The airline's plans for international expansion have been hindered by the inability to acquire necessary travel and transit rights in nearby nations.
  • Despite the challenges faced by Fly Angola, the country's flag carrier, TAAG Angola Airlines, is thriving with government subsidies, potentially creating a monopoly in the industry.

Fly Angola has found itself treading in deep water, with flights suspended seemingly indefinitely from August 18th.

Financial woes

According to ch-aviation, the Angolan currency, the kwanza, has seen unprecedented dips which do not make for a sustainable operating environment. The small airline with a fleet of just three aircraft (one De Havilland Canada DHC-8-300 and two Embraer ERJ-145) explained in a statement:

"We have faced continuous challenges caused by incalculable losses resulting from bad conjunctural policies, which unfortunately triggered an accumulation of operating costs that we were unable to absorb... The recent devaluation of the kwanza against the dollar has contributed significantly to our current economic distress...

"It is our clear desire to resume regular domestic flights in Angola as soon as we have guarantees of sustainable conditions for a long-term investment."

Fly Angola is dealing with the impacts of slower post-pandemic international demand as seen in some central and sub-Saharan regions of Africa, as well as the changing attitudes towards flying on account of closed airspaces in the vicinity and a bubbling political landscape nearby.

Domestic Angolan travel is mostly essential rather than indulgent. With costs indexed to the American Dollar, the airline's tariffs and total operating expenses became unclear as the kwanza fluctuated, and "this generated a financial disparity that became unsustainable".

The private airline has further cited that while it has long had aspirations of flying internationally, so far only domestic routes have been afforded and logistically sound. Moreover, despite trying, failure to acquire necessary travel and transit rights in nearby nations has hampered such endeavors.

In the meantime, customers have been refunded and optimistically, the airline held the following:

This break will allow us to re-evaluate our operational strategy in coordination with the various official entities and, finally, resume our operations with the strength necessary to serve the people of Angola in the way they deserve.

With an eye on the horizon, there may be hope in store for the small carrier as continental aviation grows and new companies, stakeholders and demands emerge on the scene.

​​​​​​Stay updated with the latest aviation news here.

African aviation

Interestingly, despite mutually high fuel costs, airport fees and taxes, the country's flag carrier, TAAG Angola Airlines, is doing better than ever, having recently reported a full-year profit of $800,000 for 2022. Fly Angola's CEO Belarnicio Muangala shared his musings regarding the inevitability of an ecosystem in which competition dwindles. He said,

"As you will have noted, the government continues to pump financial subsidies and aid into TAAG, making it unsustainable for competition to survive the current economic distress."

A monopoly of sorts seems to be forming.

A TAAG Angola Airlines Boeing 777
Photo: Thiago B Trevisan I Shutterstock.

National airlines have long been a beacon of status and pride in Africa, with Ethiopian Airlines and Egyptair being the predominant forces to whom everyone looks and from whom advice and financial backing for ambitious start-ups are sought.

Some examples include Nigeria which has had a number of short-lived endeavors, including Virgin Nigeria; and in the same neighborhood, Ghana is set for the new Ghana Airlines, which is purportedly eyeing a 2023 launch. Ghana is on prime territory, with potential to benefit from Niger's closed airspace.

South African Airways is starting to reemerge following many uncertain years, and Royal Air Maroc and Air Mauritius are going strong. Time will tell how civil and cargo aviation shapes the African continent and in turn, how the ever-moving peoples shape the industry.