OneJetOne to Launch Flights in August,No Frills

Kenya's International budget airline is set to launch flights in August.The airline was to launch inaugural flights in March this year but Kenyans will have to wait a little bit longer.

The airline has secured Chinese financing to the tune of Ksh.3.2billion($30million) to help finance its operations.

OneJetOne has had lots of controversy regarding the tendering process but the airline has been quick in managing its PR on Kenyan,African traditional media and various social media.OneJetOne was supposed to launch low cost flight to Johannesburg and London thereby giving Kenya Airways direct competition;a prospect that did not go well with KQ CEO Dr. Titus Naikuni.

OneJetOne seems keen on pursuing a pure low cost model,as CEO Arjun Ruzaik once said ,"We don't pretend to be an airline per se,customer service is far more important to us and its experience,our core strategy is price but we want to create fun out of it" Fun costs money,but OneJetOne promises to provide a no-frills business model;pure low cost."Why should a person flying minus luggage pay the same as another with over 20 kilogrammes of luggage?"says Ruzaik.

Other airlines like Fly540 might be caught in a pincer movement as flyers opt for either a pure legacy flight like Kenya Airways or pure low cost flight like OneJetOne.

The airline will now launch flights to Kisumu and Mombasa.It's rumored that inaugural flights to Mombasa will cost Ksh.1500($20)all inclusive.

Here is a video of a past interview OneJetOne CEO Arjun Ruzaik had with Terry Anne Chebet of CNBC Africa

Social Media Travels Well:African Airlines on Social Media

Airlines and Social Media in 2008 and 2009

The big story of the last fifteen months has been the airline industry's vigorous embrace of the social media.In 2007,no one thought that Twitter would come to dominate the airline customer relations in such an intense manner.

The early birds SouthWest Airlines,JetBlue and Alaska Airlines have been abundantly rewarded,SWA and JetBlue now commanding over a million followers on Twitter.Airlines have been the most innovative and efficient users of social media.The aviation industry has always been known for great innovation;from reduction in noise to e-ticketing,e-freight and bar-coded boarding pass!Even IATA is now encouraging airlines to use social media as a customer service tool.

Social media tools have provided the airlines with a new platform to innovate and revolutionize customer interaction and engagement;from sleek corporate branded blogs to Twitter ,Facebook pages and Flickr.Some airlines like Emirates have been quite innovative in using social media in developing unique web applications for their fans.Whoever remembers Emirates Cloudmaker application or Nonstop Fernando!They were quite fun!

Fiesr,let me give credit where it's due to the finest social media evangelists in airline industry Shashank Nigam,Steven Fritschling,Addison Schonland and Paula Berg!

 Social Media in African Airlines

How have African Airlines fared on social media? It is not that good but Africa is still a continent of mobile web.There are about 350 million mobile phone users in Africa,anyone who wants to reach clients must exploit the opportunities offered by the mobile web.According to the Opera State of the Mobile Web Report,Africa saw triple-digit percentage growth in mobile Web usage in just one year,2009.

 You can follow the proceeding on Mobile Web East Africa Conference and know the the Mobile World of Africa.

Social media penetration in Africa is still low though it's rising at a super high rate.Facebook is the most visited site on mobile web in Africa.South Africa has some 2 million Facebook users and is the 10th largest Twitter user in the world according to Sysomos.With the exciting news about potential growth in social media and mobile web,some African Airlines have been reasonably quick and effective in deploying social media to great use.Have a look at our list of African Airlines top Social Media Performers:

Kenya Airways:The Pride of Africa is definitely the leader of the pack when it comes to the use of Social Media.Kenya Airways was the first African Airline to use Twitter and adopt an official social media stream.With about 2500 followers,KQ Twitter profile is now a one stop shop for information on new routes,special offers,flight delay information,On Time Performances and solving client problems in real time.Kenya Airways even has a 'voice',a staff member who monitors tweets and responds to clients with useful information.
You can also find Kenya Airways on other social media channels like YouTube,Facebook and Flickr.Their Flickr profile will give you a really great inside look into the airline,something you have never seen like staff events.
Kenya Airways has also integrated their social media channels with their Corporate website giving clients who visit the website  chance to interact and engage the airline. :South Africa's colorful low cost airline has always been known for taking this flight business with a light touch.With such humor as "We ask you to please remain seated as Captain Kangaroo bounces us to the terminal",Kulula has always connected with its passengers even without social media but the airline has embraced the new media quite enthusiastically.Kulula's Twitter profile is quite interactive and offers really useful travel information to flyers.Kulula even offers Podcasts of South African humor and satire to travellers as IFE(the first IFE Podcasts) that they can easily download on the Kulula Website

OneJetOne :Kenya's International Low Cost Carrier is yet to take off but it has already scored a social media coup.OneJetOne has been having problems with the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority and Kenyan Airline bosses but on social media OneJetOne is winning the branding and opinion war,engaging Facebook users;promising fans a luxury heavenly flying experience and at a very low cost.OneJetOne CEO Arjun Ruzaik is on Facebook and so are other senior airline officials.This is an airline that truly understands the power of social media!It is therefore Third on Our list of African Airline Social Media Champions.

Rwandair:After its rebranding,Rwandair has embraced Facebook in one of the most exemplary uses of Facebook for an airline.The airline has also integrated Facebook into its Corporate website with a "My Rwandair" link that takes you  to the Rwandair Facebook Page .Now,on Facebook or onboard,you can Fly Your Dream to the heart of Africa with Rwandair!

Arik Air :With just over 600 followers,Nigeria's leading airline Arik Air has put Twitter into great use providing unique and valuable information to followers.You can pay Arik Air a visit on Twitter

Air Uganda:Although its website was launched quite recently,late last year,Air Uganda has been quick on exploring the opportunities offered by social media,specifically Twitter and Facebook.Given East Africa's embrace of social media,the airline seems to be on the path to success in customer interaction using social media.Its profiles are still tiny but the content is great and dedicated.
The airline has integrated its social media profiles into its corporate website thus enabling it to target the 'right' followers and fans on its Twitter and Facebook profiles.
Traffic to Air Uganda website is mostly driven by Italian keyword phrases and social media channels like Twitter would greatly boost its online reputation with English Speakers.Pay them a visit:Air Uganda on Facebook and Air Uganda on Twiter.

Fly540:Africa's Low Cost Airline has a great Facebook Page and has integrated its Facebook Page into the Corporate website although the link is not clickable.I hope they repair the link so that they can engage the right fans and attract them to their social media channels.

Where are the African Airline Blogs?

This is the big vacuum in African Airlines social media branding strategies.No African Airline has embraced a corporate blog as a branding tool.The use of corporate blogs and the advantages that come with it such as search engine optimization,podcasting,communal participation and guestblogging can give an airline an edge in client interaction.We hope African Airlines will build sleek Corporate blogs in 2010!

South Africa:Missing an Opportunity?

Given South Africa's social media reach,South African Airlines like South African Airways could easily become social media powerhouses not only on the African continent but in the world;giving clients a unique personal flight experience!Always remember that social media travels well!

Airlines in Africa blame woes on poor politics

African airlines have always blamed politicians for the woes bedeviling the airline industry in the continent.They accuse politicians of doing little to help them thrive and compete with foreign carriers during the current global financial crisis and the tough times in the aviation industry.

African airlines chief executive officers last year attended the African Airlines Association (AFRAA) annual general assembly in Maputo, Mozambique.They said politicians enter into pacts with foreign airlines and nations(Bilateral Service Agreements) without consulting the country’s civil aviation authority yet they seek to enforce the same through airlines.

"Leasing firms work with politicians and not airlines," said Ghana Airways CEO Ms Gifty Annan-Myers. "Woe unto you if you do not implement the agreement."Myers said politicians hardly look into the airlines’ business plans when sign such agreements.

Arbitrary decisions by African Goverments Concerning Aviation Industry

She urged politicians to consult local airlines and aviation industry when negotiating on issues that are likely to affect them."Politicians should not blindly pry into the airline business. The day this happens, there will be a great change in the business," said Mr Inati Ntshanga, the chief operating officer of  South Africa Airways
Ntshanga noted that politicians also interfere with their countries civil aviations decisions, which negatively affects the airline business.A great example is the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority where political influence and corruption has led to the mismanagement of Africa's fourth largest airport.Night operations were suspended last year at the JKIA in Nairobi due faulty lighting!

The continent has also failed to fully implement the Yamoussoukro declaration, — meant to open the African airspace to African carriers.African governments protect their skies in order to protect their national airlines and head off fierce competition from foreign airlines.There is also a lot of egos involved in the African Skies leading to fierce competition amongst African Airlines.This has forestalled any chance of consolidation of African carriers at a time when European and American carriers are consolidating while Middle Eastern carriers like Emirates and Qatar Airways are shifting their greedy gaze to the African markets!An Alliance between Kenya Airways and Ethiopian Airlines,fierce rivals,is inconceivable given the two airlines ambitions!Ethiopian Airlines is also wholly owned by the Ethiopian government and political interference would make the process of privatization slow and painful!

"We have failed to unite. Middle East carriers have taken over our air space and that is why Africans should learn to trust one another," said Captain David Savvy of Air Seychelles.Africa governments should  fully implement the Yamoussoukro declaration to facilitate the integration of the African air transport system.

"Our airlines and indeed air transport system may collapse if the declaration is not implemented immediately," warned.
He lamented at instances where one has to travel from African cities to Europe to get connections to other African cities Sawwy."The declaration was intended to facilitate the liberalisation of access to air transport markets in Africa and to promote and protect the African air transport system," he noted.

While giving his annual report to the CEOs, AFRAA the former secretary general Mr Christian Folly-Kossi called on African airlines to establish strategic partnerships, joint ventures or co-operation between the more resource-endowed carriers with their smaller counterparts. He said co-operations would ensure enhanced airline safety and security levels.

Folly-Kossi said last year that the blacklisting of some African airlines by some European countries has adversely affected the image of the continent."African airlines have presented a united voice to the European Union highlighting the unfairness of the procedures used against certain African carriers," he noted.
He contended that Africa’s aviation industry was also being hit by brain drain with highly trained and experienced professionals taking up jobs out of the continent.

Mitigating Brain Drain in African Aviation

In mitigation, Folly-Kossi said airlines should make use of the world class training facilities on the continent such as Kenya Airways’ Pride Centre, Ethiopia Airlines Training Academy, Egypt Air and Royal Air Maroc Training Centre.
 AFRAA is currently discussing with airlines on how to exploit opportunities created by the World Cup to be held in South Africa next year."Airlines have been discussing with each other how to take advantage of these opportunities," he said. "Airlines can collaborate through network planning, development and promotion of joint tour packages and product price bundling."

Some airlines have planned to increase flight frequencies between their countries and Johannesburg in time for the World Cup 2010

Among the African carriers that made profits in 2009 include Ethiopian Airlines, Royal Air Maroc, Lam Mozambique Airlines, Air Seychelles, South African Express and Precision Air.

What's your Favorite African Airline Livery,Past or Present?

African airlines have always had a simple professional and elegant look but South African designers changed that with some really revolutionary livery;I still love staring  at Flickr or photos of Mango Airlines or Kulula.
Mango Airline photo with full courtesy of jodyodea

I have always thought Kenya Airways had a very beautiful color scheme,sort of elegant look.Now with Kulula's now famous and revolutionary livery,am curious to hear from the airline fraternity;which airline livery in Africa just do you love most?

From Shashank Nigam: Six Brand Leadership Lessons from Air New Zealand, and the flatbed seat in Economy Class

 You will love this article by Shashank Nigam .
Shashank Nigam, a well respected airline marketing and branding strategist referred to by branding gurus as “a future business leader to watch”

Read along:
Six Brand Leadership Lessons from Air New Zealand, and the flatbed seat in Economy Class, Best Regards,Sam

Rachel Levy: 5 Ways to Incorporate Social Media Into the Flying Experience, and leverage on your “followers”

I recently wrote  a blog how African Airlines are using social media to communicate in a new way in this new decade.I found this great post on Shashank Nigam's  famous blog about using social media to enhance customer inflight experience.This is an article for the airline social media manager.

So you and your team have been driving social media strategy at your airline or airport for over six months. You’ve managed to get over 5,000 fans on Facebook, you Tweet regularly, may be even have an iPhone app and have a ton of proposals already in mind to implement. Awesome! Now, what?Rachel Levy, 5 Ways to Incorporate Social Media Into the Flying Experience, and leverage on your “followers”, Feb 2010

You should read the whole article.

Flight Africa Blog: What would a Star Alliance membership mean for Ethiopian Airlines?

Flight Africa Blog: What would a Star Alliance membership mean for Ethiopian Airlines?

Air Asia's timely response to OneJetOne 'Rumors'

After spending  the better part of the day toying with the rumors of OneJetOne's possible ownership by Air Asia,I got a timely response on Twitter  from Malaysia's cool budget airline stating that they are not involved with Kenya's newest international low cost carrier at all.

I will take Air Asia for their word and since this conversation is now on record,we will continue with our inquiries about who owns OneJetOne.One thing is certain,Air Asia might have its eye on Africa's fledgling low cost market:"we look forward to making Africa possible".Africans want to fly and fly cheap.Flying is no longer something of a novelty.But the big question is:Will OneJetOne Take Off?

Togolese start-up ASKY is born - Rediscover the Sky

The long awaited a dream to create a regional  multinational airline in West Africa has finally come to fruition.ASKY, a newly-formed community airline based in Lome, Togo, launched its Maiden flight on January 15, 2010 from Lome to Abidjan and Banjul.

ASKY airlines was formed on November 29, 2007 following the financial collapse of the then multinational carrier  Air Afrique on February 08, 2002 .In June 2008 ,an MOU was signed with Ethiopian Airlines where ET took the commitment to give assistance for the start up and development of the airline and to take an important stake in ASKY's capital.
                                                           ASKY Airlines Logo

The airline is owned by  Ecowas Bank for Investment and Development,the Ecobank Group and Ethiopian Airlines,the West African Bank,Mr.Gervais Djondo(Chairman) and Mr. Mseleku.

ASKY Airlines fleet

 Related story on Flight International Togolese start-up ASKY is born - Airline Business

New Budget Airline in Kenya:When is OneJetOne Airways Kenya Taking Off?

Kenya's first International Low Cost Carrier is set for launch March this year.At least that's the information we have so far.

OneJetOne entered the Kenyan market under controversial circumstances last year;it will soon hit the Skies offering cheap flights to Kenya under its banner "Fun to Fly".The airline has finished recruiting the first batch of cabin crews and all that remains is launching its inaugural flights in Kenya.

 There is a rumor in town that OneJetOne is partly owned by Malaysia's Air Asia but I cannot confirm that for now.But it's bold sleek branding is so AirAsia like.

For digital  branding ,I give the airline 100%(I will have to contact Shashank Nigam to verify this!).The brand is so appealing and is likely to attract  young hip Fliers flying from the Nairobi Airport!Of course the fares will also be a determining factor.If they are going to be purely budget,low fares,no frills;then the airline will be popular!There are few Kenyan budget airlines and the Kenyan low cost airlines market is still largely underexploited.If OneJetOne will offer the cheapest flights to Kenya,it will have a great advantage in the East African aviation market.

From its digital branding,the OneJetOne seems focused on reaching the young,upscale Kenyan market segment,the under 35s I think.The airline is already using Facebook and YouTube to manage its PR,engage the public and  communicate its message.

There also seems to be a reliance on friendly sections of Kenyan print media especially the Nairobi Star in the battle to win the heart of minds of Kenyans who view the airline as corrupt enterprise facilitated by Kenya's political and business elite!There is increasing emphasis in these media of Kenya Airways' fear of losing its dominance of the Kenyan market to OneJetOne(which is quite interesting given that Fly540 ,a budget airline has been serving the market for years)

Similar tactics were used by Air Uganda when it launched  the Nairobi-Entebbe route where some business journalists were paid to emphasize Kenya Airways' "rude" staff and expensive fares vis-a-vis Air Uganda's "Ugandan" hospitality onboard on the Nairobi-Entebbe route.
Should it launch its service in Kenya ,OneJetOne Airways Kenya will be judged purely by the quality of its onboard service,fares,ancillary products!As an airline lover ,I am more than enthusiastic to see a new cool carrier hit the Kenyan Skies soon!Kenyan aviation will benefit and mature from increased competition and innovative airline products!

More Info:The airline was recently awarded a tender by the Kenya Airports Authority to refurbish and operate the old Embakasi Airport .Kenya Airways had requested the KAA for use of the old Airport due to congestion at JKIA and feels it deserved to be awarded the tender as the Kenyan National Carrier!

Earning travel rewards with Kenya Airways New Msafiri Gold Credit Card

Shortly after introducing travel insurance TravelGuard(in conjunction with Chartis Kenya) and mobile ticket purchase via Safaricom's MPESA service  to its clients,Kenya Airways has now launched Msafiri Gold Credit Card,a travel card that earns you travel rewards with Kenya Airways whenever you swipe it at any KQ point of sale.

Kenya Airways seems keen on being an innovator in the African skies and giving its passengers more choice and goodies during their travel.The Msafiri Gold Credit card has been launched in conjunction with CFC Stanbic,a subsidiary of the Standard Bank of South Africa.

Standard Bank of South Africa,through its 'Moving Forward' campaign has been known for introducing innovative financial products for its clients including internet banking,mobile banking and effectively deploying social media to serve its clients in an innovative ,revolutionary way.It's not known whether Kenya Airways will  work out such agreements with other Kenyan banks but CFC Stanbic is an intuitive choice since its parent company,Standard Bank of South Africa has a giant foothold on the African continent,a key core market for Kenya Airways.In fact,partnering with Standard Bank is in sync with Kenya Airways' strategy to spread its wings throughout the African continent.

Kenya Airways seems focused on Simplifying the Flying process for its passengers while at the same time offering unique ancillary products to boost its revenues.It's a great strategy in these tough times in the skies.

KQ clients using the card must have an account with CFC Stanbic.You can download the application form for Kenya Airways Msafiri Gold Credit Card here

From Shashank Nigam: I’d happily pay extra to an airline to treat me like a VIP. Would you?

Great post from Shashank Nigam.I thought you'd love this:

I recently flew Singapore Airlines’ First Class for the first time. It was a trans-Pacific flight, so I got to enjoy it for the longest time possible (23hrs!). What an amazing experience it was. Aside from the product aspects, the service was unmatched. A level I had never experienced before, not on SIA’s economy class, and not on any other First Class.Shashank Nigam, I’d happily pay extra to an airline to treat me like a VIP. Would you?, Jan 2010

African Airports:Kisumu Airport Set for Revival

Following the recent $40 million upgrade,Kisumu Airport(KIS) looks set to regain its past glory.The Airport was used extensively during World War two to service British troops battling the Italian troops in East Africa!

The Airport, was built in the 1930s on the shores of Lake Victoria to the North West of Kisumu City. Among the first Airlines to use it were the Imperial Airways and the newly formed South African Airways which used to deliver airmail bags and passengers between South Africa and the then Imperial British East Africa(now Kenya).
The kind of flying boats operated by Imperial Airways that first landed in Kisumu in 1937

A major regional hub in the 60s and 70s in the heydays of the East African Airways,Kisumu's demise came with split of the East African Airways in 1977 leading to the formation of Kenya Airways,Uganda Airlines and Air Tanzania.

With its recent upgrade into an international airport,prospects for Kisumu and the entire Western region have been enhanced considerably and the region is set to reclaim its commercial and geographical pre-eminence as an aviation hub.A big setback is the region's fledgling tourist industry meaning air transport is still not in very high demand as compared to Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and Moi International Airport in Mombasa.

The Airport currently handles seven scheduled airlines operating between Kisumu– Nairobi, Kisumu-Eldoret- Nairobi, and Kisumu-Entebbe. These airlines are Kenya Airways, East African Safari Express, Jet link, Executive Turbine, Lake Vic. Aviation, ALS and Fly 540 Aviation.

New Bird in the African Sky:Senegal to Launch a new Airline this Year!

This year will see Senegal launch a new, private sector-dominated national airline  to replace Air Senegal International (ASI) which collapsed earlier last year.The new Airline was unveiled last November with great pomp in the Dubai Airshow where the airline comitted to buying 6 Airbus Jets(four A320 and two A330 planes) worth $670 million!

The new Airline also signed an partnership program with Dubai based luxury Airlines during the DXB09.
Under the alliance, the Emirates Group will assist the airline in both its start-up and post launch phases with commercial support, technical expertise, training and aviation-relation goods and services.

ASI, a joint operation with Royal Air Maroc (RAM), stopped operating early 2009 due to a bitter row between the Senegalese authorities and RAM. The two parties said in May last year they would relaunch the carrier but that plan has been shelved.

The new airline will officially be known as Senegal Airlines and will be based in Dakar.The Senegalese government will retain a small stake in the airline while private investors will acquire most of the stakes!
Until the row with RAM led to Moroccan planes being withdrawn, ASI had been one of the most reliable carriers in West Africa, a region where airlines are plagued with finance problems, irregular service and poor safety records.
The new airline is expected to fly to destinations in Africa and Europe.Looking forward to welcoming Senegal's newest bird into the African Sky!

What would a Star Alliance membership mean for Ethiopian Airlines?

It seems like Ethiopian Airlines is likely to join the Star Alliance this year bringing an end to Sky Team's dominance of the East African market via the Kenya Airways/Air France/KLM alliance in Nairobi!

Ethiopian Airlines would be the third African Star Alliance member after South African Airways and Egypt Air and its entry into Star Alliance to an extent signifies the continuous growth and maturity of African Airlines in the last two decades.ET is one of Africa's four major legacy airlines with extensive routes in Africa!Entry into Star Alliance is likely to complicate matters for Kenya Airways which has embarked on a Pan African quest to interconnect all the cities on the continent!

Kenya Airways and Sky Team will have to compete with a major hub in Addis Ababa only two hours away fro Nairobi plus Ethiopian's extensive code share agreements with Turkish Airlines( set to begin on 15 January 2010) and its partnership with Lufthansa that now sees the two airlines’ frequent flyer programmes  harmonized since October 2007 whereby  members of the Lufthansa Miles & More programme as well as of Ethiopian Sheba Miles can earn and redeem miles on any of the partner airline’s flights.

Also from June this year Lufthansa will fly the Frankfurt - Addis Ababa route during the day, as before, and Ethiopian will offer a night flight. In the opposite direction, Lufthansa will operate a night flight from Addis Ababa, and Ethiopian will fly during the day!

With the recent entry of Brussels Airlines into the Star Alliance,Addis Ababa could be a major hub for
distributing Star Alliance traffic into the African continent!2010 looks like a marvellous year for Ethiopian Airlines!

Useful Info:Star Alliance is the world's first and largest airline alliance. Founded in 1997, its name and emblem represent the five founding airlines, Air Canada, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines System, Thai Airways International, and United Airlines. Star Alliance has since grown considerably and now has 26 member airlines.

Arik Air carries four million guests

Arik Air, Nigeria’s leading commercial airline, has carried a cumulative total of four million guests since the airline’s launch at the end of October 2006. Arik Air also announced that it carried 42% more guests during the period 21 December 2009 through 3 January 2010 compared with the same period a year earlier.

Arik Air is Nigeria’s most important commercial airline and West Africa’s largest and one of Africa’s fastest growing airlines!This airline is likely to join the ranks of Africa's giant legacy carriers South African Airways,Kenya Airways,Ethiopian Airlines and Egypt Air especially if it's able to launch flights to the East African destinations of Nairobi,Entebbe ,Dar es Salaam and Addis Ababa popular with Nigerans!
 The airlines doesn't yet have a frequent flyer program in its business model.

In November 2009,the airline launched the first non-stop flights in a decade by a Nigerian carrier between Lagos and New York, re-connecting Nigeria’s commercial hub with New York.

The airline also launched its first long haul services from Abuja to London Heathrow and expanded services between Nigeria and West Coast markets. At the end of October 2009, when the airline celebrated its third anniversary, Arik Air had carried three and half million guests and just two months later, that figure has risen by half a million.

Arik Air has been the success story of Nigerian commercial aviation. During 2010, the airline has planned to expand its market share in Nigeria to 66 percent, up from the current 40 percent and expects to carry six million cumulative guests by the end of the year.”

Arik Air offers services to 22 destinations within Nigeria, the airline operated a total of 1,169 flights between December 21, 2009 and January 3, 2010 representing a 20 percent increase over the same period in the preceding year. Allowing for regular flights and the additional flights, Arik Air carried a total of 75,687 guests during the festive season, 42% more than during the same period a year earlier.”

Additional Information:Arik Air is Nigeria’s leading commercial airline. It operates a fleet of 31 state-of-the art regional, medium haul and long haul aircraft. The airline currently serves 22 airports across Nigeria as well as Accra (Ghana), Banjul (Gambia), Cotonou (Benin), Dakar (Senegal), Freetown (Sierra Leone), Niamey (Niger), London Heathrow (UK), Johannesburg (South Africa) and New York JFK (USA).
The airline currently operates over 130 flights daily from its hubs in Lagos and Abuja.

From Shashank Nigam: What does 2010 have in store for Middle East airline brands like Emirates, Etihad, Qatar Airways and others?

Found this interesting post from Shashank Migam's Simpliflying blog:

As promised at the start of the year, SimpliFlying will be bringing you more Guest Columns from leading aviation practitioners around the world. Our first guest article of the year is written by Oussama Salah, who is an aviation expert based in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Being a Jordanian who flies around the region a lot and works in the sector, he shares with us his predictions for Middle East carriers in 2010.Shashank Nigam, What does 2010 have in store for Middle East airline brands like Emirates, Etihad, Qatar Airways and others?, Jan 2010

You should read the whole article.

The first Green Airline in Africa:Ethiopian Airlines Flying Greener!

In 2008 Ethiopian Airlines unveiled plans to plant trees throughout Ethiopia, during the Ethiopian Millennium year, and launched a long-term environmental campaign known as FLY GREENER,the first for an African Airline!

Over 60% of the land mass of Ethiopia was once covered with forest but sadly, that has now been reduced to less than 3%, with undesired consequences on the health and wealth of its people. As part of its corporate social responsibility, Ethiopian Airlines dedicated resources to bringing trees back to Ethiopia and thus has been actively pursuing the initiatives of Greener Ethiopia, a community based association dedicated to the improvement of the local environment by planting trees.

The strategy thus far was to disseminate seedlings of multipurpose trees that are certain to bring sustainable livelihood values to farming communities.

While the effort to distribute seedlings will continue for the foreseeable future, the airline is looking to cover selected areas with trees. Ethiopian, the country’s flag-bearer and symbol of excellence in management and operation, is the first green airline in Africa. Since launching the greener initiative, 7.5 million seedlings of multipurpose and indigenous trees have been distributed to various communities in the Southern part of Ethiopia.

And taking this initiative further, Ethiopian has now pledged to plant one tree for every passenger flown. The trees planted so far, and those that are still being planted, are trees that greatly contribute to sustaining the environment by preventing soil erosion. They also provide fuel, building materials, fodder and food for livestock and humans alike (the leaves of the Moringa tree, for instance, are quite acceptable to the taste, especially when added to common foods) and facilitate new income-generating activities.

Needless to say, this initiative is changing the rural face of Ethiopia for the better. New trees and the outstanding commitment of the many communities, who help to plant them, are an unstoppable force for good. It has been joined by Ethiopians from every ethnic group, religion and profession - all of whom have a stake in their country’s future. This unique initiative is transforming the lives of thousands and playing an equally significant role in challenging Global Warming and Climate Change.

Flying is Going Mainstream in Africa

The golden age of aviation in Africa is over.By 'golden' I do not mean a boom but a novelty.A period when flying in Africa was still a novelty and only a few Africans flew to explore the world!When I would stand in the fields with my brother and watch planes fly by,one after the other,into oblivion!

Intra African flights were still very rare.If you wanted to fly to another African city,chances are that you would connect to one of the European hubs:London,Amsterdam,Paris,Brussels and then you would rely on KLM or SN Brussels Airlines to take you to your destination!It was quite expensive,that's why flying in Africa was a very exclusive affair!

It's only a few African diplomats,government officials,conference delegates ,UN staff,aid workers,UN staff and employees of international organizations who formed the bulk of the air traffic in Africa.And this was when African countries had single national airlines or flag carriers!You had fewer choices in the African Skies!

With the Structural Adjustment Programs of the 80s and the subsequent opening up of the hitherto closed African economies,the market was opened up for competition !Governments began to loosen their reign over airlines and several smaller airlines emerged to create a very vibrant African aviation  market that we have today!
The Opening of African Skies
These days flying has become a necessity for many Africans as regional integration of African economies and the opening of the Skies with signing up of more Bilateral air service agreements amongst African nations!Kenya Airways and Ethiopian Airlines are now in a gold rush to interconnect all the major cities in Africa!

It's now up to smaller African Airlines like Kulula,Jetlink,Air Uganda ,Fly540 to serve domestic and smaller regional markets.In South Africa,despite the state control of SAA,a vibrant domestic market has emerged giving travelers great variety of flight experiences.The Kenyan market is still dominated by Kenya Airways but then KQ has to compete wit 8 other smaller Kenyan airlines that offer scheduled and chartered flights!It is now easy to find very cheap flights to Kenya,South Africa or Nigeria made possible by rich choice African airlines!

Aviation in Africa is still to some extent tourism and aid dependent but with greater regional consolidation and growth in markets such as East Africa,South Africa and West Africa flying will be a very natural way for Africans to get around this vast continent!

Air Uganda:All set for East Africa

I first saw the update on Twitter notifying users about Air Uganda's brand new website thus reawakening my interest in Uganda's tiny but ambitious airline.

Air Uganda is just two years old but already it has made a name for itself in East Africa for its great punctuality(on time performance) and cordial service.In 2007,the airline made itself name too by bashing Kenya Airways so as to taper KQ's dominance of the small but lucrative Nairobi-Entebbe route.

East African Flights

Looking at its East African network,the east African airline seems keen and focused on building and consolidating its regional network comprising Nairobi,Mombasa,Dar es Salaam ,Juba and the recently launched Mombasa route.There are no big dreams for Southern,West African or intercontinental flights.It's all about building a mature market in East Africa before adventuring into the unknown.

The strategy is smart,allowing the East African airline to concentrate small resources on an emerging and vibrant market.The airline is not positioning itself as a low cost carrier but is instead emphasizing its quality service in order to justify its slightly high fares.The airline has also created a name for itself with its excellent onboard service and Ugandan traditionally cordial hospitality and this has already eaten into KQ's market share for the route dominated by East African businessmen!

In December,the airline launched a frequent flier program,Celestars in Collaboration with Air Burkina Fasso and Air Mali,the three airlines being owned by the Group Meridiana based in Florence Italy.Now fliers can earn,accumulate and redeem miles with Air Uganda.But this still does not match KQ's Flying Blue program that gives passengers access to over 700 routes and rewards across the globe!

The airline seems keen on building its ancillary revenues too.Under its partnership with Serena Hotels across Kenya,Uganda and Tanzania,Air Uganda Holidays now gives passengers great Holiday packages across the region!

For now,the skies are open for East Africa's small 'legacy' airline!

Will African Airlines survive 2010? has combined innovation with humour to create a winning brand in the South African Low Cost market

What does the year 2010 hold for African aviation?According to IATA,not very bright.IATA estimates that African airlines will lose $100 million this year.

Last year Kenya Airways lost close to $130 million due to expensive fuel hedging contracts !This was the first loss for the African Airlines in 13 years and caused a great deal of uproar in the Kenyan business community.

Kenya Airways and Ethiopian Airlines are likely to continue with their fierce expansion into African markets.Already Ethiopian Airlines has acquired 25% of ASKY airlines and launched Lome as its new West African hub.Kenya Airways looks set to extend its wings into the lucrative West African market too!

South African Airways is still struggling across the continent losing the market to fierce competition from Kenya Airways and Ethiopian Airlines.Gulf giants Emirates,Etihad and Qatar Airways are already smelling the opportunities that are slowly being created in Africa!

Emirates,already the official airline of the FIFA 2010,looks set to establish a firm foothold in the African market this year.Emirates flies to major hubs in Africa and has also establish countless interline connections with small African carriers.

The silver lining in African skies might as well be the growth of the low cost market.A few innnovative low cost carriers are emerging across Africa.African low cost market is still unmined market even though South African market is slowly maturing with the emergence of innovative and colorful carriers like Kulula and SAA small fruity airline,Mango Airlines!In Kenya Fly540 and JetLink are not doing that bad but South Africa leads in the low cost/budget airlines market!
Kenya Airways crew serving passengers!

Let's hope 2020 will provide a bright blue sky for African Airlines!


Hi guys. Thanks for stopping by. This is where I plan to share my ideas, thoughts and observations on African Aviation in general and African Airlines specifically .I am a passionate fan of African Aviation and through this blog I am hoping to bring you the "behind the wings stories" about African Airlines.
African Aviation is small but very vibrant and with an impeccable and sometimes very interesting history.

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