Aviation History in Pictures:Sasol makes world's first fully synthetic fuel-powered flight

South African petrochemicals giant Sasol on Tuesday took to the skies the world's first passenger flight powered with only synthetic jet fuel, which was produced from coal.The flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town took two hours.A nervous Springbok Captain John Smit was onboard the flight but was eventually filled with pride after the the historic flight:

Here are a few pictures capturing the historic event:

Springbok's Victor Matfield was on the world's first fully synthetic fuel-powered flight
Sasol makes World'd first fully synthetic fuel powered flight

Pictures Courtesy Creamer Media
A Sasol Gasoline Station in Johannesburg(courtesy Getty Images)
Watch Sasol CEO Pat Davies on Youtube speak after the historic first passenger flight powered by 100% synthetic fuel.

RwandAir launches SMS service for flight schedule

RwandAir has unveiled a new flight schedule on SMS service that will allow its travellers to query its flight schedule via SMS and get instant auto response with accurate flight details. The service, which is already active in Rwanda on MTN and Tigo networks will be rolled out in phases to cover the entire East African networks and other networks on RwandAir destinations.

For instance by sending the word RwandAir (space) destination to either 123 on MTN or 7333 on Tigo people in Rwanda can now access Rwandair schedule.

At the moment this service is available in Rwanda on MTN and Tigo, the next phase of implementation will cover Burundi, Uganda and finally we will avail the service on Kenyan, South African and Tanzanian mobile networks, he added.

The airline is at advanced stages in its plans to implement an Internet Booking Engine with credit card payment facilities. This booking engine will later be optimized to allow for bookings via mobile phone handsets.

African Airline Liveries GUEST BLOG:Colouring the African Skies

Once in a while,Flight Africa blog will feature a guest blogger about African aviation.Two days ago,I got in touch(via Twitter) with Kyle Hwang, an 18 year old student living in Pretoria, South Africa and attending University of Pretoria studying BSc Actuarial and Financial Mathematics.His favorite pastime is airline livery design and he has a great collection at Aviation-Designs.net
His airline livery design blog Raydon Designer's Blog is a great delight!In this article written for Flight Africa Blog,Kyle gives us his take on African airline liveries.Enjoy!

 Africa, unlike most continents, are rather poor but ironically creates some of the most excellent (not-so-poor) looking liveries. One can say that the airlines are so happy to get a new aircraft, that they will make sure it looks at its best before taking off to the skies.
African liveries have always looked bland or even unprofessional, often sporting a basic element from the country of origin followed by a cheatline that was always out of proportion. SAA was one of the only African airlines to feature a livery smart enough to compete with other liveries in the early 60's.  Egyptair was the first to compete with SAA  (and in fact the world) by launching a new livery. Although I was never a fan of the "chicken-head-cut-out-of-coloured-paper" logo, it sure was classy and stood out in 1996. Soon, SAA launched an attack in 1997, scrapping the apartheid springbok logo and opting for a newer South African logo and livery (see my take on SAA controversy).  The SAA re-make was so successful that even Air Tanzania adopted the look but failed grasp the South African colour, culture and vibe.
But enough about history, lets look at some African liveries. The are mainly 5 African liveries that travel abroad enough to be recognizable.
1. Air Mauritius

 Air Mauritius rebranded in 2009. The new logo is a more sleek and elegant version of the previous and the standard font has also been replaced with a newer customized font. Air Mauritius’ previous livery was rather basic: red and white, cheatlines, basic shapes (no curves) and their logo. Their new livery features the new logo on the fuselage and partial red waves on the tailfin. Although not very spectacular, I think the new livery is a step forward than the previous livery. Unfortunately, it lacks character and can easily be confused with Qantas and their A330′s.
Like: New Logo, New Font, New Livery is rather elegant but…
Dislike: …lacks character

2. Egyptair

Egyptair rebranded when they joined Star Alliance. Their previous rebrand was in the mid 90′s. Their new livery livery is much more dynamic and although not very Egyptian like, works quite well on the aircrafts. The shades of blue adds a professional feel to the livery as a whole.
Like: My favourite part of Egyptair is definitely their new logo. Not only does it adorn the front fuselage quite dominantly, it creates oppurtunity for a really good looking tailfin. Another feature I like about the Egyptair livery is the amount of blue they used. If you look carefully, their tailfin is not a gradient of blue shades but rather strips of blue that creates a very classy image
Dislike: The font…As old as the mummies!
3. Ethiopian Airlines

To coincide with their 60th anniversary, ET rebranded in 2005. Their new look is based on the old but modernized and simplified. I cannot say much about the ET livery but what I will say is that is slowly started again world recognition. Unlike Air Mauritius, it is distinctive around the world and would look pretty sharp on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner!
Like: New logo, it is simple and does the job
Dislike: Hmm…The font. It looks like its a combination of Amharic and English and cannot decide what it whats to be.
4. Kenya Airways
The problem with KQ’s previous livery was that it looked a lot like Air Mauritius. The new identity launched in 2005 sported a revised logo and livery although the font remained the same (maybe a good thing by judging the two above airlines!). The new livery incorporates the national colours more dominantly and creates a Kenyan feel.
Like: The font that remained the same, the company slogan underneath the titles are rather good looking. I like the rear fuselage too with the national colours that are swirled but…
Dislike: …it is spoilt by some weird looking- beg your pardon – by a letter K that cannot quite fit into a circle. The KQ livery is not bad but besides the national colours, it does not bear much National elements. Maybe a Samburu shield or rhino…
5. South African Airways
Best for last? Since SAA is my flag carrier, I’ll try not to be too biased. I will ramble on the history of SAA’s livery and my view on it. All I’m going to say is-
Like: Eurowhite Scheme with lots of colour
Dislike: Um…let’s not go there. I am rather disappointed with SAA dropping aircraft names. They definitely were not politically related and were representative of the countries Fauna and Flora and geography!
Then there are some small players:
1. Air Austral
2. Nigerian Eagle
3. Rwandair
Air Austral sports a very blue livery with a swirl near the end. I think it was designed quite well and the flowers at the back certainly add a good touch. Nigerian Eagle is definitely moving the the right direction with their billboard titles displayed boldly on their front fuselage. Rwandair’s new livery is rather eye catching but they might start having problems going abroad and their livery is not distinct enough.
A general trend in Africa is that airlines are opting for white liveries, or also known as Eurowhite Schemes. The difference between African liveries and traditional liveries is that Africa tries to make their liveries as colourful and bright as possible in contrast to the rest of the world’s dark perception of Africa. As a result, these liveries normally stand out from the crowd at airports such as JFK, HKG or LHR.
All I am waiting for at the moment is to see a B787 or A380 in an African livery!

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A Legacy:Rebranding South African Airways

What do you think of South African Airways livery?Is it lively enough;does it capture our colorful lives and cultures and even histories.Apart from some daring designs by airlines such as Kulula or Mango Airlines,most African airline liveries are pretty bland to be honest.
Kyle Hwang
Kyle Hwang is young and passionate aviation geek from Pretoria ,South Africa and a prolific designer too.His "favorite pastime is livery designing" and he has come up with some innovative and imaginative redesigns of airline liveries.One of his(and mine too) favorite albeit controversial "redesigns" is that of South African Airways.His inspiration is the Springbok(South Africa's National Animal) and a symbol of apartheid.

During apartheid,the Springbok was a powerful symbol of Afrikaner nationalism and the incoming ANC regime,determined to dismantle these vestiges and symbols of the past,took great care in rebranding the former "pariah airline' to conform to the post apartheid realities.So out went the blue Springbok and in came the
new livery based upon the new national flag, with a yellow ball (sun) placed in the red stripe

The blue flying Springbok:The South African Airways emblem prior to 1997
The Revenge of the Springbok?
Kyle disagrees;of the Springbok,he says "I do not think it is a reminder of Apartheid.The Flying Springbok logo was used even before apartheid was initiated."His redesign embraces the two South Africas;the old and the new.The "Rainbow nation" as conceived by Mandela must embrace every facet of its cultures and experiences,and that includes some symbols of the old Afrikaner dominated South Africa too.

Kyle has also addressed the concerns for those who might accuse him of harboring a nostalgia for the old days:"My version of the livery also feature the three colours of the ANC quite predominantly too so you cannot blame me for political incorrectness."

 The airline of the old South Africa:Suid Afrikaanse Lugdiens(SAL),the "pariah airline"

The livery of Post Apartheid South Africa:Adopted in 1997 as ANC dismantles the old symbols of Aparthied and Afrikaner nationalism.
 The Future:Kyle's livery for the Rainbow Nation's airline?Kyle concludes that "sooner or later the springbok might just find its way back into South African branding."

Read Kyle Hwang's Blog Raydon Designer's Blog 

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African Airlines Association(AFRAA) General Assembly To be Held in Addis Ababa

The African Airlines Association (AFRAA) has announced that its 42nd Annual General Assembly (AGA) will be held in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa from November 21 - 23, 2010 under the theme “Adapting to survive and prosper”. The 42nd General Assembly and African Air Transport Summit is being hosted by Ethiopian airline at the UNECA Conference Centre.

AFRAA Annual General Assembly is by far the biggest and most prestigious aviation event in Africa, bringing together Chairmen and CEOs of all the major African airlines, civil aviation authorities, airport companies and other stakeholders in the aviation industry from within and outside the continent. The conference also attracts top government and industry policy makers and representatives of international and regional aviation organizations.

The AGAs are marked by discussions and analysis of the global and in particular the African airline industry challenges, achievements, opportunities and the way forward. The discussions are led by eminent industry practitioners, renowned speakers and panelists. AFRAA AGAs facilitate business cooperation among the member airlines and provide networking opportunities for the carriers and major aviation aircraft and engine manufacturers, IT and other airline solution providers as well as leasing, financing and aviation training organizations attending the conference.

Previous AFRAA annual conferences attracted large numbers of top airline and aviation executives, aircraft and equipment manufacturers, IT solution providers, consultants and academics.

This year’s AGA is special in that it will take place in the political capital of Africa and the seat of the African Union. Ethiopian Airlines last hosted an AFRAA AGA 10 years ago, in the year 2000.
More information on the AGA are available on the following website: http://aga42.afraa.net

For further information, please contact:
The Secretary General
AFRAA Secretariat
Nairobi, Kenya
Tel: +254 20 2320144/2320148
Email: afraa[at]afraa.org
Website: www.afraa.org

Lessons for African LCCs:Designing for a Low Cost Airline

How does one design for a low cost airline? There are a limited number of options if you want to save costs. As has been explained in a previous post, companies must know where it is crucial to ensure quality and where costs can be cut.

In order to win awards, such as the best low cost airline award, by Skytrax’s World Airline Awards, airline companies must save money on things such as extras/options and personnel costs by, for example, having them fill multiple roles. The money low cost airlines can save must be invested in increasing efficiency (further saving costs) and in areas passengers hold in high regard such as the feeling of safety.

AirAsia is the winner of the low cost category for best airline. How did they do it? They are innovation oriented. AirAsia is a pioneer in finding new ways to cut costs while still meeting the needs of its passengers. A British study has shown that they have the lowest unit cost and breakeven point and even say that they are like a Ryan Air clone. Furthermore, they claim to have costs below 2 cents per km. That means they can continue to invest in new innovations.

Ryan Air, compared to its competition such as Air Berlin which was the second best budget airline in the world and Europe’s best by Skytrax, could be considered bare-bones, but that is what its passengers are looking for; the cheapest possible flight. Ryan Air is not only about the lowest possible prices. They know how to market themselves.
Let’s have a look at their corporate design, specifically. A part of this includes the colors they use. Yellow is attention-grabbing and blue is calming and reassuring. That is a good combination because you want to grab people’s attention and keep people calm and give them the feeling of security.

Ryan Air was not awarded anything in the by the World Airline Awards, but in spite of this, they are one of the largest airlines in the world according to passengers carried. They designed their service to meet certain needs and omit others.

To finish off, I would like to ask a few questions. Do you think the award winning AirAsia will also be one of the largest airlines by passengers flown? Do budget airlines such as AirAsia or Ryan Air meet your needs, or would you design a low cost airline differently? Lastly, why do you think Ryan Air has so many more passengers than Europe’s best low cost airline, Air Berlin?

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Article Courtesy:Thomas C. Mylonas

Kenya Airways opts for Amadeus Insurance

Kenya Airways has opted for Amadeus e-Retail to provide Travel Guard insurance to passengers. The Kenyan carrier is to also offer insurance services through its call centre as the airline seeks to boost its ancillary revenues.

As an Amadeus partner and travel product supplier, the insurance and assistance provider’s services are integrated in the Amadeus e-Retail online airline booking engine and its Altéa Call Centre platform. 
Travel Guard Worldwide chief marketing officer Bob Gallagher said: “The offer of travel insurance at the time of the air ticket purchase not only provides a benefit to the customer, it also represents an attractive revenue stream for the airlines.”

Amadeus travel services business group director Marcos Isaac added: “Revenues other than tickets are expected to account for $56 billion or 12% of total airline revenues in 2010, according to IATA.”
"The insurance offering would allow the three carriers to capitalise on the new revenue opportunities and strengthen their ancillary strategy”.

Amadeus Insurance is available worldwide in more than 50 markets, adopted by more than 38 global and local insurance companies. Several online travel agencies and airlines have chosen to distribute Amadeus Insurance via the e-Retail booking engine. A few examples are: HRG, Weco Travel, AFAT, Manor, Finnair, BMI, Qantas, Air France, TACA, Air Caraibes, Corsair.

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Internet and Mobile Services Onboard EGYPTAIR

EGYPTAIR has delivered its first new Airbus 330-300 last August. This aircraft provides many modern technologies; like using the wireless internet and personal mobile on board the aircraft, besides using the GSM, SMS and GPRS services. The passengers flying onboard the new A330-300 will be able to make phone calls through their personal mobiles with the same international calls rate of their service providers, in addition to the ability of sending SMS and using the mobile internet service. Moreover, the customers will enjoy using the WI-FI service throughout their flight.

With these innovative services, EGYPTAIR will enable its customers from keeping in touch with their business, families and friends throughout all their relaxing flight.

This new A330-300 accommodates 301 seats, of which 36 in business class and 265 in economy class. The same as the new B777-300ER that EGYPTAIR received this year, the business class customers flying on board EGYPTAIR’s new A330-300 will be able to recharge their personal devices while relaxing on their elegant seats and they will be also able to sleep on their 160ْ Flat Beds, or they will indulge themselves in hundreds of entertainment options with personal entertainment system screened on the 15.4” screens.

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Emirates brings West Africa closer to Dubai with launch of new Dakar route

Emirates has strengthened its links to West Africa with the launch of a new direct service to Dakar.
EK 797 took off this morning for the airline's 105th destination, creating the only non-stop, scheduled passenger link between Dubai and Senegal.
Delegates representing the inaugural flight to Dakar.
The new route will cut current journey times to Dakar by around the equivalent of an eight hour working day, creating an easy, fast and convenient service for business and leisure travellers.
EK 797 departs Dubai at 0955hrs every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday and arrives in Dakar at 1600hrs. EK 798 leaves the Senegalese capital at 1740hrs and gets into Dubai at 0715hrs the following day.

An Airbus A340-300 is being deployed on the route, offering 12 seats in First Class, 42 in Business and 213 in Economy.

New Dakar route will help fish reach market fresher than ever
Located off the Atlantic Ocean in the West of Africa, Dakar has a rich tradition in fishing and its produce will be reaching the market fresher than ever once the only direct flight between Senegal and the Middle East is added to the airline’s network.

The Dubai-based carrier’s freight division, Emirates SkyCargo, expects to transport up to 3,500 tonnes of seafood a year in the belly-hold of the A340-300 which will be serving Dakar five times a week.