Fly540 extends services to Meru,Fly540 Angola likely to launch flights this week

Meru National Park is one of Kenya’s least crowded but will soon receive more visitors following the launch of flights to Meru by Fly540, the fast expanding regional airline.


 The services are operating three times weekly on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday via Nanyuki from Wilson Airport using a Cessna Caravan aircraft. This leaves Wilson at 3.00 pm and arrives in Nanyuki at 3.45 pm departing Nanyuki at 4.00 pm to arrive at Kina Airstrip in Meru at 4.15pm.

The return flight leaves Meru at 4.30pm and arrives in Nanyuki 15 minutes later. Departure from Nanyuki is scheduled for 5.00pm to arrive in Wilson Airport at 5.45 pm.

Nixon Ooko, the Fly540 Operations Director said, “We are keen to make more tourist destinations accessible by air as it gives visitors more time to enjoy their game viewing. Our flights to the Mara, Amboseli, Nanyuki and Samburu have become very popular and we hope to see more tourists visiting Meru National Park.”

In other news,talk is rife that Fly540 Angola will launch flights on Monday 20th December,2010.But why is the launch shrouded in so much secrecy?Wolfgang H Thome,eTurbo News correspondent,calls it "Angola Factor" which would be translated to mean "uncertainties with governmental decisions and turn abouts ... nothing is 'done' until it's 'done' 


Kenya Airways Launches Rome;to codeshare with Alitalia

Kenya Airways airline launched its new route on Thursday, and is currently the only carrier to link the two countries directly.Services will operate three times a week, on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
Alitalia Image Courtesy
 Flight KQ121 from Rome's Fiumucino airport leaves at 10.25am, arriving into Nairobi at 7.05pm.
The flight from Nairobi (KQ120) leaves at 12.55am, arriving into Rome at 6.30am.In the past, flying between Italy and Nairobi often involved a back-track, for example via Paris or Zurich.

 The new Rome - Nairobi flight marks the start of the commercial co-operation between Alitalia and Kenya Airways, which will see the introduction of code-sharing flights on some routes operated by the two carriers.

Alitalia is codesharing on the route (applying its AZ code to flights), and will represent Kenya Airways in the Italian market through its own sales network.Alitalia will also codeshare on flights operated by Kenya Airways between Nairobi and Mombasa, while other destinations in Africa will be covered by an interline agreement, as both airlines are Skyteam members.
Interlining is when both passengers and their bags can through-check, when travelling on a single ticket. This agreement will also cover passengers opting to fly between the UK and Nairobi with Alitalia and Kenya Airways, via Rome.

From Nairobi it will also be possible to reach other destinations served by the Kenyan company (Malindi, Johannesburg, Addis Ababa, Entebbe, Bujumbura, Kigali and Lusaka) thanks to an interline agreement between the two companies.In return, Kenya Airways will apply its “KQ” flight code to Alitalia flights from Rome to Milan Malpensa (and viceversa) connecting with the service between Nairobi and Rome.

Fly540 Angola to Launch Flights in one week

Fly540 Angola, subsidiary of Lonrho, will commence daily Luanda-Cabinda-Soyo services in a week according to a close source.Earlier in the month ,Lonrho issued a statement saying it would commence the Fly540 Angola operations "by the end of 2010".While we have been kept guessing as to the exact date of the launch of the operations,reliable source has told us that the launch date "could be somewhere between 20th-22nd December" as  they are planning to commence operations before Christmas.

The services are likely to commence with a single aircraft serving the north of the country from Luanda three times daily. In the future an additional two aircraft are contracted to arrive from Europe within four to six weeks.Fly540 Angola would be the first private sector International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) registered airline for Angola.

Touchdown East Africa:The Rapid growth of aviation in East Africa

Kenyan business journalist Terryanne Chebet has been hosting an interesting four part series into aviation in East Africa on Citizen TV.

Her first episode shows "Who is who" in the aviation sector in East Africa.Here is a quick summary:
Rwandair: 100% owned by the government of Rwanda
Precision Air:34% owned by Kenya Airways and 52% owned by Michael Shirima and 15% by investors after an IPO issue
Air Uganda:Owned by Aga Khan through his Meridian flagship
Jetlink:Captain Elly Aluvale,Kiran Patel,Raila Odinga(Kenyan PM) and Musalia Mudavadi(Kenyan Deputy PM)
Fly540The first Kenyan LCC:majority owned by Lonrho Africa
Kenya Airways: 23% owned by the Kenyan government,26% by KLM and 51% by investors through shares
OneJetOne:To fly from July 2011 after clinching a $55 million deal with a Chinese aviation investor HNA Aviation Group

Watch the first three episodes on YouTube:




Almada Portugal:Is TAAG Airlines becoming a flying coffin once more?

Plane scattered debris over Almada before being forced to return to Lisbon airport A year and a half after having been authorized to resume flights to Portugal, the Angolan airline TAAG, is again involved in serious problems related to the safety of its planes.

On December 6, a little after having taken off from Lisbon's Portela Airport, passengers and crew that were aboard the Boeing 777 to Luanda heard a noise and intense vibration caused by a number of parts that came loose from the engine of the airplane. The parts fell on the streets of the town of Almada, causing some physical damage and injuring two but not seriously.

Faced with this complex situation, the pilots were forced to alter the flight and emergency land at the airport in Lisbon. The more than 120 passengers were taken to a hotel and it is said that TAAG does not intend to reimburse customers for their return to Angola.

In parallel, the company already made it known, through its representative in Portugal, that it will take responsibility for the results of the incident, by way of an investigation already underway, to determine cause of the fault.

In 2007, the European Union put TAAG on its black lits of airlines prohibited from flying in European airspace after France had detected serious deficiencies in the safety of its airplanes.

At the time, and to minimize the loss, TAAG opted to rent planes from South African Airlines, including crews from that country.

In 2009 the restriction was partially lifted and the EU recommended that the Angolan airline resume flights between Luanda and Lisbon, with the Instituto Nacional de Aviação Civil (National Civil Aviation Institute) commiting to do inspections on the aircraft that operated this route. Apparently, the collaboration was not adequate.

Yesterday ,in a press release,TAAG offered to pay damagescaused by the incident.The press release reads:
TAAG Angola Airlines would like to inform that the flight DT651 operating with a three (3) years old equipment B777-200ER took off this morning at 10:51 hours from Lisbon to Luanda with 125 passengers on board.

A few minutes after take-off, pilots felt a vibration on the right engine. Emergency procedures were taken and the commander decided to return to Lisbon airport where he landed safely and smoothly at 11:31.

Passengers on board did not notice any abnormality and at this moment are waiting in an Hotel on the Portuguese capital for a flight to their final destination.

TAAG is gathering information about possible consequences of the incident to assume all liabilities.

 What remains to be seen is how this sad episode will influence the relationship between TAAG and the European Union and with its customers who have for a long time complained about the national carrier for a number of different reasons, delays being the most common one.

Green Solutions:Follow aviation proceedings at COP16

Follow the proceedings on COP16 and give us your thoughts about what should be done to make our skies greener?
Follow COP16 on Twiter

Jetlink Flies high in East Africa:Next stop,Asmara

Information was received from Jetlink, one of Kenya’s successful private airlines, that following the launch of their flights from Nairobi via Kisumu to Mwanza they have now also been cleared to commence operations to Asmara / Eritrea. This new destination will come hot on the heels of Hargeisa in Somaliland, a relatively stable breakaway part of Somalia seeking independence and recognition as an independent country. 
 The airline has also confirmed that they have signed interline agreements with such prominent global airlines as Emirates, Brussels Airlines and Qatar Airways, which will allow passengers on either airline to be ticketed through to their final destination and receive their bags, subject to customs clearing points, at their final destination.

Air Traffic Controllers in East Africa now targetted by Gulf States

International airlines, especially those based in the Gulf region, have in the past made it almost a habit to snap up trained pilots, cabin crew and technical personnel from carriers in Eastern Africa to the dismay of local airlines who incurred heavy training expenses. Even ‘bonding’ has not fully stopped the outbound migration of such skilled individuals, as some pilots reportedly do receive ‘their money back’ from new employers, after quitting and paying off their ‘bond’, while yet others who decided the stay on successfully negotiated substantially better pay and terms and conditions from their employers – as repeatedly reported here in past editions.

 The next aviation target group now appear to be the air traffic controllers, who like pilots, cabin crew and engineers are paid relatively little – by international standards that is – though of course have very handsome salary packages compared with the rest of the local labour market.

An upcoming shortage of ATC’s has according to a source in Nairobi triggered offers to such individuals to resign and sign up for lucrative contracts abroad, which would potentially leave the East African skies exposed should such a trend in the first place exist and then prevail. Training air traffic controllers, like is the case with pilots, is a lengthy and costly exercise and control tower staff are already working at near maximum capacity. Any reduction therefore could potentially leave screens unmanned and overwork the remaining staff, or see trainees turned out faster than should be the case. It is thought that the minimum time required to train ATC staff is three years but specialised training can push this to several more years before being fully qualified to work ‘alone’. 

 Figures given by a source in Entebbe of air traffic control staff across the entire East African Community are less than 400 in the ‘best scenario’ while some put the figures nearer to the 300 mark, which if true underscores the need to not only actively recruit new trainees but also create a work environment and pay packages commensurate with their responsibility and skills.

Even if traffic across Eastern Africa is nowhere near the intensity of Europe or the key Gulf airports, it still needs to be conducted safely and securely which requires sufficient staff on duty, on call and as back up. Only recently was it reported here that the Ugandan air traffic controllers celebrated the anniversary of their global organisation and it is now better understood why the numbers of the ‘celebrants’ was relatively small in numbers. 

Courtesy Wolfganghthome's Blog

East African Safari Air Express:First Casualty in Airfare wars in Kenya

East African Safari Air Express, airline coding B5, has halted all flights in the face of ever stiffer competition in particular on their main routes to Juba / Southern Sudan and shrinking traffic to what used to be their ‘plum destination’ Lokichoggio / Northern Kenya. 
 The airline, which was operating aged equipment of the early generation DC9’s never managed to achieve what for instance their erstwhile partner and latter day rival Jetlink managed, to convert their fleet to modern day jets with superior operating parameters in particular as far as fuel burn was concerned, leave alone firming up market perception about ‘being on the move’ and not standing still. 

Some weeks ago the DC9 fleet was effectively grounded in a last ditch effort to cause a financial turnabout, and substituted for two South African registered BAE 146. That however too did not stop the bleed apparently and ever more dismal loadfactors seem to have scared off the joint venture partners from South Africa. It is understood that when they withdrew their planes the end game approached rapidly for EASA and the halt of operations finally confirmed this.

In particular the route to Juba has in recent weeks become substantially more competitive, after Kenya Airways finally entered the frame and commenced daily flights between Nairobi and the Southern Sudanese capital, and together with Jetlink – they are operating twice a day in fact on their modern CRJ200 jets – they will undoubtedly try to see off other competition to this highly profitable destination. The use of EASA’s outdated, worn and far from state of the art aircraft was surely one of the many reasons why B5 in the end operated with what some say barely 30 percent load factor while those using newer jets operate well near with full house on every departure. On the Juba route this development also serves notice to other operators with old equipment, which is expensive to maintain, and the coming weeks will tell the story if others presently operating in Kenya will follow EASA to the exit.

In a twist of sorts, a senior Kenya Airways manager – now taken to court by Jetlink together with KQ itself – made comments last week about B5 not going to operate, but in a mistaken belief seems to have packaged EASA with Jetlink, which in fact not only operates but has just added new routes, and now faces a court case over libel. 

While we await the outcome of this case – some sources have indicated that KQ may wish to settle this out of court in view of the blunder by their employee – the aviation industry in Kenya is undoubtedly now facing a period of ‘survival for the financially fittest’, as Kenya Airways slug it out on the main routes between Nairobi and Mombasa, but of late also Nairobi to Kisumu, with Jetlink and Fly 540. Ever newer and ever lower fares, as reported yesterday when KQ launched a ‘stand by fare’ of 3.000 Kenya Shillings (1 US Dollar is worth about 80 Kenya Shillings) one way between Nairobi and Mombasa, inclusive of all taxes, make operations now only viable when combined with high loadfactors, and the next few months will let aviation observers and the general public know who has the fortitude of deep pockets and high loads and who else might have to face the inevitable and join EASA in the history books of Kenyan aviation. Watch this space for the very latest information on aviation developments in Eastern Africa and the Indian Ocean region.

Courtesy  Wolfganghthome's Blog

Fly540 Angola close to commence Operations by end of 2010, Fly540 Ghana to launch in 2011

Lonrho is due to start operating the first private commercial airline in Angola, with daily flights due to begin next week, the chief executive of the group said whilst presenting the group’s results for the financial year ending in September.

"We are going to start operating flights from Luanda to Cabinda and to Soyo next week," said David Lenigas, adding that initially the company would operate with a single aircraft, with a further two due to arrive in angola in four to six weeks.

Lonrho, which is a stakeholding company with assets in 17 African countries, already owns Fly540, an airline operating in Kenya since 2006, and competition in Angola is made up of charter flight companies.

"The demand for an international standard domestic and regional airline in the booming Angolan economy is clearly evident. The establishment of Fly540 Angola and the process of launching the first private sector International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) registered airline for Angola has been a long and difficult procedure. This has involved the training and education of staff to the standards required for an international airline. Fly540 Angola should commence commercial operation by the end of 2010",the company said on its website.

The chief executive of Lonrho also said that in the first quarter of 2011, Fly54 would set up a regional operation in the capital of Ghana, Accra, from where it would fly to Senegal and Equatorial Guinea.

The Ethiopian Airlines:The mother, the child and the mistress

The long wait....This is an interesting  reblog from Victoria Moore's piece on Flight Global.Should Ethiopian Airlines stick to a 50 year marriage with Boeing that refuses to deliver the Boeing 787 or should ET get the "energetic French mistress" who will deliver the Airbus A350 by 2017?Enjoy the read
Flight Global journalist Victoria Moores

"I was in sunny Ethiopia last week for the African Airlines Association annual general assembly. It was 23° out there - in sharp contrast to today's snowy London landscape. During the conference a charming story emerged, which I was told has been playing out for the last couple of years. I thought I'd share it with you.

We were welcomed by an address from Ethiopian Airlines chief executive Girma Wake, which went something like this: "The Boeing 787 has refused to come out of Seattle and our first 777-200LR was delivered mid-week. Boeing says there is a tradition: the mother should be allowed to leave the room before the child. Now that the 900th 777 has left, we have every hope that the 787 will follow the mother."

Ethiopian's 10 787s were due to start arriving back in 2008, making them two years late. There is no doubt that Ethiopian is annoyed with Boeing, despite their 50-year relationship. Wake continues: "When you've been married for over half a century, we [Ethiopian] won't ask you [Boeing] for a divorce because there is no chance that we want to end our marriage. We've been together for 50 years and have seen good and bad times together. The wedding took place 50 years ago, the marriage is still on, let's make sure the 787 solidifies [our relationship]."

But at the Airbus-sponsored farewell cocktail, the analogy continued. Airbus sales vice-president for North Africa Francois Cognard joked that it was "great timing on the part of Boeing" to deliver Ethiopian's first 777, just as the airline hosted the AFRAA meeting. He insisted that the AFRAA secretariat should commit to returning to Addis Ababa for their general assembly in 2017, when Ethiopian will take its first Airbus A350. He quipped: "By 2017, the energetic French mistress will be here." 

I caught up with Cognard later, to compliment him on his speech. He said: "When I came to Ethiopia two years ago, everyone was talking about the long-married couple [Ethiopian and Boeing]. I wanted to introduce myself and make light of things, so I made a reference to Ethiopian needing a French mistress."

I like his style."

South Africa introduces high-tech boarding passes for improved passenger convenience

Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) and the airlines have introduced a new, cutting-edge, air travel convenience with the implementation of a system that allows passengers to make on-line or mobile flight ticket bookings and print their own boarding passes. The system went live early September 2010 for domestic flights and is working well.
A Lufthansa Mobile Boarding Pass
International travelers will be able to use the new 2-D barcode as soon approval has been received from the Department of Home Affairs whilst 1Time Airline will only be ready next year.Bar Coded Boarding Passes (BCBP) use IATA industry standard 2D bar codes. Because they can be accessed from anywhere - even a mobile phone - they offer more convenience for the passenger.

Historically, airline global applications for mobile phone technology have been restricted due to different regional formats. The IATA standard uses existing codes: Aztec and Datamatrix which are used extensively in Europe and North America; and QR which is widely used in Japan. All three are proven technologies and can be read by a single scanner type that is cost effective and readily available globally.

 “The 2-D barcode verification system is the new standard in air travel that has been adopted by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), thereby bringing South Africa in line with global practices. Passengers will no longer have to queue at the airport for check-in as their seat is assigned at the time of booking, while they can also print their boarding pass on any home laser or ink-jet printer. There are equally positive benefits for airlines, as the volume of people using their check-in desks will diminish, while giving them real-time monitoring of which passengers have already checked into the secure area,” says Bongani Maseko, ACSA’s Group Executive for Airport Operations.

ACSA has been working with industry players and partners over the past two years to put in place the system that requires the implementation of certain technologies, standards and functionality. The overall objective of the new system is to simplify the check-in process for the airlines and provide greater flexibility and convenience for air travellers.

IATA developed a detailed technical specification for the 2-D barcode system to ensure compliance and interoperability between the different participants. ACSA has worked with industry bodies such as the Airlines Association of Southern Africa and the Board of Airline Representatives of South Africa to ensure a smooth and collaborative implementation.

The system is being rolled out in a phased manner, starting with O.R. Tambo, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Bloemfontein International Airports, and George and Kimberley Airports. King Shaka International and our three other airports will be operational by the end of the year.

Maseko explains that airlines will offer a 2-D barcode printing service at their check-in counters for passengers who do not have the ability to print their pre-booked boarding pass. Passengers who use the 2-D boarding pass are required to carry positive identification, which must be produced at the boarding gate. An on-going education and information campaign will be implemented by ACSA to help passengers and the industry to make the necessary adjustments to this new system.

The system will be available for domestic travel on the following media: Check-in counter printed boarding passes, Common-User Self-Service printed boarding passes, Home printed boarding passes and Mobile devices. For international travelers, all of the above will be scanned, except for the 2-D boarding passes on mobile devices. It will be available for international travelers after the necessary approvals have been obtained from the Department of Home Affairs.

Airports Company South Africa to replace xylophone announcement jingle with vuvuzela blasts
FED UP WITH PASSENGERS IGNORING FINAL BOARDING CALLS, Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) has announced plans to replace the traditional three-tone xylophone PA announcement jingle with three blasts from a vuvuzela.

An ACSA spokesman stated: “Our office is still awash with those annoying plastic horns from the World Cup - what better way to put them to use and help get the planes away on time.” ACSA also plans to use as many as possible in foundations for apron extensions.
A view of the runway at O.R. Tambo International Airport's Terminal