South African Airways first Woman CEO takes over the helm

South African Airways  recently announced the first woman CEO for the national carrier.Ms Siza Mzimela, who was CEO of SAA's domestic partner SA Express (SAX), will take over from former Kenya Airways finance director Chris Smyth from April 1. She will be SAA’s first female to head the airline.

Both airlines are owned by the Government of South Africa through a parastatal called Transnet. Mr Smyth, then general manager of operations at SAA, was appointed acting CEO of the airline in February 2009 after the departure of Mr Khaya Ngqula.

 “With her extensive experience in the airline industry, and especially her knowledge of the inner workings of SAA, she is the ideal candidate to fulfill the mandate of SAA to be an African airline with global reach,” said SAA board chairman Cheryl Carolus.

Ms Mzimela has an impressive track record as the CEO of SAX, which she joined in 2003 and she is highly regarded in the aviation industry. Under her leadership, the regional airline has grown and introduced new routes and recently started a new airline, Congo Express in the DR Congo.Best Wishes from the Flight Africa Team!

Based in Johannesburg, SA Express started operations in April 1994. Although it is operationally independent of SAA, its flights are incorporated within the strategic alliance with South African Airlink and South African Airways (SAA).

Ms Mzimela re-joins SAA at a time when its position as the biggest airline on the continent is threatened by a resurgence of its African rivals and erstwhile partners led by Egypt Air, Ethiopian Airlines, Air Algier, Royal Air Maroc and Kenya Airways.Just like Ethiopian Airlines, KQ and EgyptAir, SAA has a commanding presence in Africa, which has been less affected by the recession than the rest of the world.

With a fleet of 49 aircraft, SAA is relying on the 2010 World Cup, where it is the national carrier and host airline, to shore up its coffers after several years soaking up losses.

SAA has experienced strong growth in market share in Africa, which remains the most profitable market following a strategic decision to concentrate on growth in the region. Domestically, the airline’s position has remained strong, backed up by its low-cost carrier subsidiary, Mango.
A Brief Profile of Ms Mzimela:After she graduated with a degree in economics and statistics, Mzimela's first job was in the small business and retail division of Standard Bank in 1991. Three years later she joined Total SA as a corporate planning analyst responsible for managing capital projects, before joining SA Airways (SAA) in 1996 as a research analyst.
After various promotions at SAA, Mzimela was appointed executive vice-president of global passenger services in 2001/2, later taking on responsibility for the airline’s core business global sales and the airline's loyalty programme, Voyager in 2002/3.
She was involved in setting overall strategic direction for the sales and Voyager team and in actively managing and reducing costs. She was also responsible for the strategic positioning of SAA and for optimising alliance partnerships. She is also a board member of SA Tourism and was the Chairperson of the Airlines Association of South Africa for two years. In 2002, she was a finalist in the Nedbank Businesswoman of the Year Award.

The A380 Writes Aviation History in Africa

The Big Bird has landed in Johannesburg on 18 February. The A380 writes aviation history as the largest passenger aircraft of the world landed for the very first time on African soil.Fans flying to World Cup to South Africa later this year will travel in style!This was not however the second A380 landing in South Africa.

In November last year,Air France launched an A380 Promotion to South Africa giving passengers who book Business or First Class return ticket from South Africa with Air France or KLM between 02 November & 15 December 2009 a chance to win two A380 tickets!

Here are a few shots of the memorable flight! 

Air France A380 leaving Paris for Johanesburg!!

Arrival in Joburg

The first A380 arrival in South Africa occurred on November 26th 2006 when Airbus A380 touched down in South Africa in certification flight

5 Ways Airlines and Hotels Can Drive Revenue with Social Media

This a reblog from my favorite airline branding blogger Shashank Nigam posted on Mashable.Enjoy the read here 5 Ways Airlines and Hotels Can Drive Revenue with Social Media

South Africa's Kulula Airlines goes back to basics with Flying 101 re-branding

The big story on airline branding for the last three weeks has been Kulula's audacious and funny rebranding.A 101 guide to the different parts of the plane.So much conversation has been generated on social media be it Twitter,Flickr,Friendfeed or blogs.If you haven't heard of Kulula's rebranding ,then you must be living on Mars.

Here is a nice little piece from Shashank Nigam,the 'certifiable' airline branding and social media geek whose wonderful blog Simpliflying was recently voted the Second Best Aviation Blog in the world.As Shashank says,"Now here’s one plane that’s bound the become the kids’ favorite. In fact, I bet that adults would be intrigued too. I’d let the pictures do the talking, and you be the judge."

Enjoy the read.I will resume my posts later in the week with an inside look into African Aviation.Great week and a BIG HUG to you all!

South Africa's Kulula Airlines goes back to basics with Flying 101 re-branding

Kulula's Audacious Rebranding and a Social Media Coup

South Africa's budget carrier Kulula recently took the Kulula humor a step further and applied a 101 guide to the various parts of the airplane,a design by the Kulula in house team!How was Kulula rewarded?Kulula became the talk of town,from blogs to Twitter ,Facebook,Flickr name it,web users are talking about Kulula!

As one online marketer said" It’s something fun. This is the best marketing, that changes how you look at something and brings joy to your customers. (Life can get far too serious)." Another users says "Totally refreshing! Apt to draw a pleasant clientele and the tugging on sleeves from the younger family members. You did good.. I see smiles coming your way.. Bravo!!"The conversation is going global,a Dutch blog is talking about Kulula,German blogs and on Twitter the conversation is ever ending.

So how did Kulula score the coup?They contacted airline enthusiast,spotter and photographer Malcolm Nason to take a few shots of the plane even before the design was unveiled.Malcolm is an influencer in airline photography so the photos soon found their way to the Airliners Gallery on Flickr. The photos have been viewed over 40,000 times on Flickr alone!The photos were soon doing their rounds amongst brand enthusiasts and bloggers;influential travel blog Gadling published a post titled Kulula-air tries not to take itself too seriously that was an instant hit with web users with over 280 retweets and 2176 Diggs plus thousands of enthusiastic readers.According to the Simple url shortener and real-time link tracking tool,the Gadling Kulula story alone has been read/seen by some 2143 twitter users alone,and that's from one blog and one platform!

Kulula's great audacity and social media savvy will surely be greatly rewarded later this year when the World Cup comes home in June and football fans will be flocking to South Africa not just for the football fiesta but also to experience an airline that tries not take itself too seriously!