EgyptAir On the Rebound

 - September 18, 2019, 10:44 AM
EgyptAir took delivery of its first Airbus A220-300 in early September. (Photo: Airbus)

The oldest airline in Africa, EgyptAir, plans to nearly double its fleet to 100 aircraft by 2025 as it shakes off the effects of the so-called Arab Spring and tourism in the region rebounds. Two weeks ago the airline took delivery of its first Airbus A220-300, making it the first Airbus A220 operator in the Middle East and the sixth airline to fly the A220 worldwide. The airline expects delivery of its second A220 on October 1.

An EgyptAir official told AIN that its twelve A220-300s on order will serve regional and domestic destinations. She added that the airline expects delivery of 15 A320neos by the second half of 2020, replacing the airline’s aging A320ceos. Not averse to flying a mixed fleet, EgyptAir over the past few years has taken delivery of nine Boeing 737-800s and six 787-9 Dreamliners.

Egypt Air’s fleet of 58 airplanes consists of six Boeing 777-300ERs, six 787-9s, 29 Boeing 737-800s, six Embraer E170s, four Airbus A330-300s, two A330-200s, four A320-200s, and the single A220-300. Its EgyptAir Cargo unit flies three A330-200 converted freighters and a pair of A320-200 P2Fs.

Now serving 72 domestic and international destinations, EgyptAir recently inaugurated service to Washington, D.C., Kigali, Abidjan, and Doula, Cameroon. According to the EgyptAir spokesperson, the airline has begun preparations to launch flights to Hangzhou, China.

Egypt Air sustained spiraling losses during and following the Arab Spring, which took hold in the Middle East and North Africa in 2011. Terrorist attacks, too, affected the tourism industry and aviation sector significantly. In the aftermath of the bombing of a Russian airliner over the Sinai Peninsula in 2015, the British and Russian governments imposed travel bans to Egypt, dealing a major blow to the tourism industry and, by extension, EgyptAir.

The situation has improved in recent years. The Ministry of Aviation has upgraded the security facilities at all Egyptian airports, investing more than $76 million to buy and install modern airport security equipment in Cairo, Sharm el-Sheikh, and other international airports often used by tourists.

As a result, EgyptAir returned to profitability in its 2017-2018 fiscal year, giving the airline and financiers enough confidence to commit to a fleet renewal and an ambitious growth plan.