China and Angola are set to re-establish a direct connection in the next six months as TAAG Angola Airlines plans a return to East Asia after over three years. The two countries have seen increased levels of cooperation in the past year.
Return to China
TAAG Angola previously operated two weekly flights between Luanda Quatro de Feveiro Airport (LAD) and Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK), but the route was unprofitable. Before the pandemic, it offered up to nine flights and 2,115 monthly seats.
During the pandemic, the carrier also operated special flights between Luanda and Changsha Huanghua Airport (CSX). While in Beijing this week, Angola’s Minister of Transport Ricardo de Abreu announced that the national carrier will resume flights to China by early 2024. However, the airline might skip the Chinese capital and launch flights to another city.
With the resumption of this route, TAAG will become the fifth African carrier operating flights from Africa to China after Air Tanzania, Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways, and Egyptair. This month, these four airlines have up to 195 flights to five different Chinese airports, including Guangzhou Baiyun (CAN), Beijing Capital (PEK), Shanghai Pudong (PVG), Chengdu Tianfu (TFU), and Hangzhou Xiaoshan (HGH).
China-Angola cargo deal
The Angolan flag carrier also has an essential cargo line connecting Brazil, Angola, and China, with a deal valued at over $200 million. The airline signed the agreement last year with Chinese group China Lucky Aviation (CLCA) to transport raw materials, agricultural produce, electronics, and other goods, between the three destinations.
Cargo transport services under this agreement are operated on the Changsha-Luanda-São Paulo route. The contract is significant for TAAG as it supports the airline’s growth strategy and contributes up to 50% of its turnover. It also operated several cargo flights to China before the pandemic interrupted the service. However, after partnering with CLCA, cargo operations have significantly recovered.
According to the transport minister, the deal is one of the state-owned company’s most significant achievements in recent years. TAAG already has a well-established connection between Luanda and São Paulo Guarulhos (GRU) and has now positioned Angola as the region’s main point for South America-Africa connections.
The new Luanda Airport
To enhance the socioeconomic contribution of air transport in the region, Angola’s government is constructing a new airport in Luanda, with up to four times more capacity than Quatro de Feveiro. The hub will be able to accommodate over 13 million passengers annually, making it one of the largest in the region.
The project is also in partnership with a Chinese firm known as China National Aero-Technology International Engineering Company. The launch of the new Dr. Antonio Agostinho Neto Airport is imminent, and while in Beijing, Minister Ricardo de Abreu disclosed that it would be inaugurated by the end of the year.
This will also be the largest airport built by a Chinese firm overseas, highlighting the strong collaboration between Angola and the East Asian Republic. The resumption of direct flights will strengthen ties even further, allowing TAAG to tap into the Eastern market in line with its development strategy.
Source: Simple Flying