Princess Stella Oduah: Nigeria's New Hands-On Aviation Minister

She's techsavvy, business savvy and yes a powerful minister in Africa's most populous nation. Nigeria's new aviation Minister Princess Stella Oduah is a super woman, with a wealth of experience in the country's private sector. On her personal website, marketed via Google's adwords program, http://www.stellaoduah.com/ ,she is described as an "amazon of a woman" who has conquered the private sector in Nigeria and successfully established the conglomerate; SPG Group as an enviable group of companies with interest spanning Oil and Gas, Agriculture, Engineering, Logistics and Trading.



Nigerian Aviation Minister Stella Oduah

Princess Oduah was appointed as the country's aviation minister earlier this month and her personal and her style of management has already won her many admirers in a country used to poor service delivery and corruption amongst public officials coupled with a chronically underperforming and ailing aviation sector.

Her leadership style is open, hands-on and embracing of technology; on her Twitter(and she uses Tweetdeck) and Facebook profile , she updates followers and indeed many in the aviation sector on the various initiatives she's undertaking to rebuild Nigeria's aviation industry that has been dogged by countless problems from fuel shortages, financial crisis (that led to a government bailout), airlines suspending operations, delapidated aviation infrastructure and many more.

Just a few days ago, she ordered the collection of N2,500 as Passenger Service Charge (PSC) from air travellers in Nigeria to be stopped, a relief to many passengers!


Minister on an Airport Facilities Tour

Nigerian aviation sector needs a shot in the arm to live up to its full potential. Nigerians comprise the bulk of aviation passenger traffic in intra Africa routes and on routes to the Asian market yet Nigerian airlines are unable to service those routes. Instead, the vacuum has been filled by Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways, South African Airways, Emirates and others. Airlines that are all on ambitious expansion programs. Kenya Airways for example, intends to service every African Capital city by 2013, an ambitious yet achievable target. Ethiopian is also on the march even although its plans have been disrupted by the delayed delivery of the B787 Dreamliners. Both South African Airways and Emirtaes are also planning ambitious African expansion programs in the next one year.

So, Madam has her work cut out for her in order to rescue Nigerian Aviation industry. On social media, she interacts with users and responds to their concerns on the industry:

"I accepted this assignment out of passion and the sheer conviction to transform the Aviation Industry and indeed, any sector of our national life that may possibly and positively impact on the greatness of our dear and beloved nation."

"I will be embarking on a fact finding tour of all our airports in the country starting from tomorrow, 11th of July, 2011. The initial phase of this will take me to the Kano, Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Enugu airports."


"My agenda is to make air transportation the preferred choice of travelling for Nigerians. We want to ensure safety, comfort and efficiency"

This open and practical approach must now be reinforced with solid investments in infrastructure and enforcement of aviation-friendly regulations to restructure and revive the industry. Madam must come up with short term and long term programs to ensure Nigeria's airlines survive the shocks of the last few months and that the industry is strong enough to march into into the near future, meeting the demands of passengers and airlines alike.

Turkish Airlines to begin Kigali Flights in April 2012

Turkish Airlines announced earlier this week that their intention to begin flights between Istanbul and Kigali by April next year. The information was given in Kigali by the THY Chief Executive Dr. Temel Kotil when he met with President Paul Kagame.
It was also announced that cooperation between RwandAir and Turkish will be stepped up, with codeshare arrangements being put into place under which the two partners can choose a range of ‘beyond’ destinations from the hubs in Istanbul and Kigali. Fleet maintenance and capacity building support was also discussed between RwandAir – due to get their first ever B737-800 in less than a month from now – and Turkish with the latter going to provide technical support and training opportunities.
It could not be ascertained however if the flights between Kigali and Istanbul would be nonstop or route either via or on to another African destination of Turkish, which has in recent years been aggressively expanding to now 142 destinations via their Istanbul hub, including 17 cities in Africa.
 

Kenya Airports Authority Lying to the Public over Vandalism Claims

The Kenya Airport Authority only managed to pour more fuel into the fire of discontent over their dismal performance of late, when their Managing Director yesterday blamed vandals for the power outages.



Incompetent? Eng. Stephen Gichuki, Kenya Airports Authority Managing Director
‘The man is not only incompetent, and his staff responsible are incompetent too, now they are also lying to us. How can they blame vandalism of cables in a secured area. Has anyone heard of intrusion into the airport perimeter, cutting of fences or climbing them? Had police got any evidence that there was in fact vandalism or that the power substation was broken into? Has KAA filed a case with police? That cable is underground so who can access it from above? And if anyone intruded into the secure area, what does that mean for KAA’s security measures in place? This is pure hogwash and they know it. They are trying to absolve themselves from blame and by lying make it worse. They must resign or be fired for negligence and incompetence. And no, you cannot use my name because these people are very vindictive and can cause our airline a lot of problems’ said a regular source to this correspondent yesterday evening when discussing KAA’s latest attempt to shift blame from themselves to ‘others’ who remain unnamed.

Airlines are demanding huge compensation from KAA for flight diversions and the resulting costs of passengers missing flights and having to be accommodated, the extra fuel to reach diversion airports and related cost caused by a string of recent power outages at East Africa’s most important international aviation gateway. Meanwhile is a crippling electricity deficit of up to 200 MW causing power rationing across Kenya, following suit to Tanzania’s perennial power shortages and of late similar problems in Uganda, leaving businesses, in particular the hotel industry and manufacturing reeling from the added cost of doing business by using in house generators which at present prices of diesel and petrol are eating deep into their bottom line.

Kenya's Phoenix Aviation introduces MD-83s for North Africa and the Middle East

Kenyan operator Phoenix Aviation is introducing an MD-83 which will suit North African and Middle East charter requirements. The aircraft has just returned from South Africa where its interior was completely refurbished. It is now based in Nairobi and is available for charter enquiries.

The versatile EASA compliant aircraft is configured for up to 170 passengers in an economy class configuration and can be converted quickly to mixed business and economy class with 12 business class seats and 146 economy. With a range of 2540nms, self-start capability, forward integral and ventral airstairs, Phoenix says the MD-83 provides a reliable self-contained solution to the region’s transportation requirements

The MD83 has a flying duration of 7 hours and as a European compliant aircraft, in terms of equipment, can operate into and out of Europe with ease. It is available from home base Nairobi or globally for ad hoc charter and short or medium term wet lease (ACMI: Aircraft, Crew, Maintenance and Insurance). The self-start capability and integral airstairs make this aircraft a versatile solution for passenger transport requirements to airports lacking extensive ground support equipment (GSE).

Aviation: Kenya's Top 12 International Markets by Weekly One way seat Capacity



Interesting stats and insight here on Kenyan airlines' Intrernational market. For more information and stats visit OAG Max Online which provides comprehensive schedules database for over 1000 airlines and 3,500 airports.

Anna.aero: Aviation Capacity Study of Kenya

Located on Africa’s east coast, Kenya is roughly the same size as mainland France and has an estimated population of just over 40 million. Famous for its tea, coffee, flowers and athletes, tourism plays a key role in the country’s economy thanks to the many national parks, game reserves and beaches along the Indian Ocean.

The most recent airline to enter the Kenyan market is Gulf Air, which at the beginning of this month relaunched its route between Bahrain and Nairobi that last was operated in 2002-2003.
 According to OAG data, Kenya has 19 airports with scheduled flights, although 14 of these only offer domestic destinations. Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) is the dominant airport in the country, accounting for over 70% of all seat capacity. According to data published by the Kenya Airports Authority, the airport handled almost 5.5 million passengers last year, up 8% versus 2009. Over 80% of the airport’s traffic is on international services. The country’s second-busiest airport at Mombasa saw passenger numbers rise by 14% last year to almost 1.3 million. The recent resumption of Gulf Air services from Bahrain means that 38 airlines now serve Kenya’s main airport. Analysis of OAG data for July 2010 and July 2011 shows that seat capacity at JKIA is up 9% this summer, while the number of movements is up 13%.
Eight carriers compete in domestic market
Kenya’s domestic air travel market features eight separate airlines offering scheduled services. The biggest in terms of weekly seats is Kenya Airways, which only operates three domestic routes from JKIA, but this includes up to 11 daily flights to Mombasa.

Fly540 offers less seat capacity but operates 20 domestic routes and more than twice as many domestic flights. It offers up to five flights per day between Nairobi and Mombasa. In fact, over 40% of the country’s domestic seat capacity is allocated to this one route between the country’s two most important cities.
Fourth and fifth ranked Airkenya and Safarilink Aviation both operate from Nairobi’s Wilson Airport, which is just five kilometres from the city but has a relatively short runway.

Tanzania, UAE and UK are leading country markets
Kenya’s airports (mostly Nairobi) offer non-stop scheduled flights to 45 countries according to latest OAG data. Leading the way by some distance in terms of weekly seat capacity is neighbouring Tanzania, which generates over 150 weekly departing flights, not just from Nairobi but also Mombasa, Wilson and Kisumu.

Second-ranked UAE is served with just 34 weekly flights, dominated by twice-daily Emirates flights to Dubai, but also daily flights with Air Arabia to Sharjah. The Middle East market is also served by Qatar Airways (double-daily to Doha), Saudi Arabian Airlines, and since the beginning of July, Gulf Air to Bahrain.
Each daily services operated by British Airways, Kenya Airways and Virgin Atlantic to London’s Heathrow Airport help the UK market rank third. Kenya only gained its independence from Great Britain in 1963. Passengers to and from the UK peaked in 2007 at almost 650,000 (Source: UK CAA) before falling dramatically by 23% the following year as a result of the political unrest in Kenya during the first quarter of 2008. For the last two years, the UK market has been relatively stable at around 550,00 annual passengers.SkyTeam member Kenya Airways (slogan ‘The Pride of Africa’) has around 45% of the international market, and is currently flying non-stop to 39 international destinations in 33 countries from Nairobi. Its most recent route launch was last week to Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, which it will serve twice weekly (Monday and Friday) via Cotonou (Benin) using a 737-700. The airline has stated that it plans to serve every capital city in Africa by 2013. In June, the carrier took delivery of its second E-190 regional jet, raising its fleet size to 32 (15 737s, six 767s, four 777s, five E-170s and two E-190s).

The next biggest airlines operating international services in Kenya are Ethiopian Airlines and Tanzania’s Precisionair, followed by Emirates.

Brussels Airlines, KLM and Swiss present; but not Air France or Lufthansa
Kenya Airways’ most recent European route was its flights to Rome Fiumicino that launched last December. The airline has around 45% of the international market out of Kenya and ambitious plans to serve every capital city in Africa by 2013.

Launch of the Rome Route by Kenya Airways
Kenya Airways’ most recent European route was its flights to Rome Fiumicino that launched last December. The airline has around 45% of the international market out of Kenya and ambitious plans to serve every capital city in Africa by 2013.

Apart from the UK and Netherlands (Kenya Airways and fellow SkyTeam member KLM both serve Amsterdam daily) there are also daily non-stop European flights to Istanbul with Turkish Airlines, while Swiss offers six weekly flights from Zurich. Kenya Airways operates four weekly flights to Paris CDG and last December began operating three weekly flights to Rome Fiumicino. Brussels Airlines operates three weekly flights from Brussels, while the only German services are provided by Condor from Frankfurt to Mombasa. Lufthansa only operates cargo flights to Kenya.

Change Makes Change: Kenya Airways Launches Onboard Donation Platform

Kenya Airways, the Pride of Africa, recently launched an online donation platform, Change Makes Change, to help fund its Corporate Social Responsibiluty programs. The airline's CSR programs have in the past involved refurbishing schools, planting seedlings and various other social programs in the countries it operates in.



Should passengers be paying for an airlines' CSR programs? That's question for another day. According to the airline's CEO, Dr Titus Naikuni, the program has factored in customers wish on where those donations should be channeled to.

But many Kenyans have a pretty good idea where those donations should be channelled-to the North of the country where chilling images of starvation have been emerging in the last week. But which airline would 'traumatize' its passengers with images of starvation? That's why Kenya Airways CSR is targetted towards social programs like greening the planet and so forth. Many airlines, including KQ, will portray a glamorous picture of their home countries; so for most Kenya Airways passengers the image of Kenya that will be printed in their minds, atv least onboard, is that of an enchanted land of safari, adventure, a cool and emerging high tech city, the nightlife and many blissful things in life. For now, the images of starvation will be sweeped under the frilly doilies.

The Sahara: Ethiopian Airlines takes delivery of 5th Boeing 777-200LR

Ethiopian Airlines has taken delivery of its 5th Boeing 777-200LR. Named The Sahara, the brand new 777-200LR arrived at the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport late last week.

Ethiopian Airlines has named its five Boeing 777-200LRs with African land marks highlighting the theme of “The New Spirit of Africa”. Accordingly, the first 777-200LR named, “The Blue Nile”, the second “Rift Valley” , the third “Victoria Falls”, the fourth “Mount Kilimanjaro and the fifth “The Sahara”.

Air Namibia to be bailed out for the "last time"

The Namibian government has increased the bailout amount for the nation's national carrier Air Namibia with a promise that this will be the last time it will be coming to the aid of the struggling carrier.

The billion-dollar package was worked on a turnaround plan that was approved by the Namibian cabinet. the new business plan, developed by IATA Consulting, will see Air Namibia produce a well develop network that results in a better product attractive to higher yielding customers and to potential airline partners.

New routes yet to be developed, better scheduling and newer aircrafts are expected to boost the productivity of the airline. The plan will see the creation of a hub at Hosea Kutako Airport in Namibia, from where Air Namibia will fly from and to other destinations in the Southern Africa region. 

Zimbawe to build Longest Runway in Africa to woe back airlines

Zimbabwe’s Harare International Airport will have the longest runaway in Africa following a major facelift aimed at luring back major airlines back into the country according to Zimbabwean officials. Zimbabwe's economic freefall that brought the country to its knees also drove airlines away from the country as the route became uneconomical due to a dip in tourist arrivals and trade.

The economy has been rebounding following a power-sharing agreement signed with the opposition and one of the sectors the administration has been keen onrevining is the the critical travel and tourism and industry.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) will spend US$5 million in the project that will be completed in December this year.

On completion the runway will be five kilometers long with a 30 year lifespan and is designed to accommodate the world’s largest airbus plane. “It will be among the world’s longest runway and the biggest in Africa,” Jerry Ndlovu, the airport director said.

South Africa’s biggest and busiest airport, OR International Airport in Johannesburg has a 4.4 km runway.
A total of 18 international airlines stopped flying into the country after the economic decline set in almost a decade ago. They include Lufthansa, Qantas, Austrian Airlines, Swissair, Air India, Air France and TAP Air Portugal, Egypt Air, Air Mauritius, Linhas Aereas de Mocambique, Air Namibia, Royal Swazi Airlines and Air Seychelles, Air Tanzania, Ghana Airways, Air Uganda and Air Cameroon.

The few airlines that remained faithful in Zimbabwe's hard times were Ethiopian Airlines, South African Airways, Kenya Airways amongst others.
Air France, Austrian Airlines, Egypt Air, Swiss Air, Bulgarian Airlines, Qantas, Emirates, KLM and Lufthansa have indicated that they are now ready to fly back into Zimbabwe.

How Mango Airlines has Succeeded in Customer Engagement

A reblog: Simpliflying interviews Mango Airlines CEO Nico Bezuidenhout

Almost everyone reading this blog books most of their airline tickets online. Without question, it is the easiest and most cost-effective way (for all parties involved) to make a booking. So it makes sense that a start-up airline would focus its distribution strategy around direct online sales. However, imagine if you were tasked with launching an airline in a market where only 10 percent of the people have reliable Internet access. And of those, a small percentage trusted online payment systems. What would that do to your customer engagement and distribution strategies?



I had the great opportunity to interview Nico Bezuidenhout, the CEO of South Africa’s Mango Airlines who faced the exact challenge described above, at Aviation Outlook Africa Summit in Johannesburg. I have highlighted different topics we discussed below, with the full video interview available at the end of this post. Read More

Oman Air Looking for General Sales Agents (GSA) in Kenya & Uganda


Just received this
Oman Air, the rapidly growing national carrier of the Sultanate of Oman is seeking a representative partners for Kenya & Uganda.

Ideally, your organisation will be well established and can demonstrate strong links to the aviation and tourism related sectors.

Your influence with trade, commercial and government bodies would be viewed positively in support of your application as would your head office facilities. Oman Air will provide a commitment to excellence and your sales team would be mentored by our Country Manager thus building the foundation of a mutually successful and rewarding partnership.

Interested parties should apply within seven days from the date of this advertisement with an “expression of interest” together with a company profile to:

General Manager Worldwide Sales
Oman Air
Muscat, Oman.
E-Mail: gsa.passenger@omanair.com

Kenyan Aviation: Does Emirates Plan on Using the A380 on Its Nairobi Route?

"Kenya is our third biggest market in Africa after South Africa and Nigeria," was the statement made earlier in the week, when Emirates’ Nairobi office launched the airline’s premium product upgrades now in place in all of the flying giant aircraft. The A380 will first come to Africa in October, when it will feature on the daily flights from Dubai to Johannesburg, replacing smaller aircraft due to continuously strong and rising demand. Durban is also being launched as yet another Emirates destination in South Africa besides Johannesburg and Cape Town.


The Emirates A380: "The Plane that builds economies"
The Airbus A380 is equipped with a First Class cabin of 14 personal suites and most notably offers an inflight shower service, reportedly well received by passengers especially on very long-haul flights. An out-of-this-world First Class Lounge in Dubai and a range of other goodies for passengers in First, round up the image Emirates is promoting around the world.

Business Class passengers will also enjoy a new world of inflight comfort on the A380, as it is equipped with the arguably best flat-bed seats on the market, and catering in both F and C is rumored to compete with another "5-star" airline for top honors.

Yet, the ongoing renovations and expansion at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, and the recent problems with multiple power outages, are not conducive for an A380 operation just yet, although it is apparently planned to have a double-decker airbridge installed at one of the end gates of the terminal to facilitate docking of the giant airliner without problems.

Post Courtesy eturbonew.com
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Kenya's aviation sector: Who next to fall to hard times?

Aviation in Kenya is generally a thriving industry with the number of aircraft registered and the daily flights recorded at the main airports, at Wilson, and across the entire country’s airfields and airstrips dwarfing the entire rest of the East African Community. No cause for concern then one might think. Think again.


Jet aviation, connecting Nairobi with Malindi, Mombasa, Kisumu and Eldoret, has seen a mighty change take place when Kenya Airways (KQ) decided to return to the domestic aviation market per force, re-constituting the shuttle to and from Mombasa and returning to both Malindi and Kisumu after runway expansions and repairs had permitted "The Pride of Africa" to do so.

The introduction of new aircraft to the KQ fleet, namely the Embraers 170 and 190 models, has allowed them to fly as many as 10 times between Nairobi and Mombasa a day, and while flights to Malindi are only daily at present, more can be added should demand so require, as was the case with Kisumu.

While Kenya Airways was absent from the Kisumu and Malindi routes and had shown for some time less inclination to claw back market share on the Mombasa route, this changed with the arrival of the Embraers, and it also changed the entire market equation for the privately-owned airlines, which had taken advantage of KQ’s "slumber." Jetlink and Fly 540 – the latter has already taken over East African Safari Air Express – found themselves in a sudden fight to the death over passengers and had to reduce fares while still maintaining the same number of flights in spite of lower occupancies.

With fuel prices escalating at the same time, margins started to shrink and aviation observers now think that with KQ’s unrelenting presence and pressure on the domestic market, with new aircraft, inventive marketing, and a superb frequent flyer loyalty program, it will only be a matter of time before something, or someone, finally gives.

Several reasons can be cited for this development in Kenya’s mainstream aviation.

First, there is the need to bring modern aircraft to the fleets, causing aged DC 9s and F28s to be phased out, as this is a demand in the market place. These ageing aircraft were cheap to procure though expensive to operate, considering their fuel consumption, an acute issue when the cost of aviation fuel JetA1 soars. Kenya Airways bringing new aircraft on stream almost inevitably compels competitors to do the same, and though the present CRJs flown by Jetlink and Fly540 are not brand new, they do constitute the newer aircraft the market was looking for. That, however, required often syndicated funding, and with interest rates again on the rise, the payments for these newer aircraft are becoming a challenge for such comparably small privately-owned airlines.

Secondly, in particular, pilots are becoming a real issue for smaller airlines as they are just as much in demand by the national airlines – where they have "real" career prospects of eventually migrating to wide-bodied planes and to fly further abroad. However, aggressive recruitment by, in particular, airlines from the Middle East, where a severe pilot shortage is said to be looming, considering the ongoing expansion of their main players like Emirates, Etihad, Qatar, Oman, Air Arabia, and Fly Dubai, also plays a major role for qualified pilots in Eastern Africa, and it is little surprise that those remaining at home have flexed their muscles and successfully re-negotiated their terms and conditions to a point of near financial pain for the smaller airlines and also for Kenya Airways, which only recently had so sign a new deal with their pilots and KALPA. This has eaten deeper into the narrower margins of smaller airlines, making it more difficult to make financial ends meet.

Thirdly, the return of KQ in numbers to the Mombasa route and to Malindi and Kisumu has eaten into the client base of smaller jet airlines, and the at times extraordinary special offers to fly with "big brother" Kenya Airways has eroded occupancies of those private airlines, which can only make ends meet with regular high occupancies on one side and efforts to keep their fares up – both elements in this equation, however, no longer hold, as pressure on fares has been intense while occupancies have actually reduced, in particular, during the long and hard low season between after Easter until the end of June.

All of this is taking its toll and the report today from Kenya that one of these private airlines is being taken to court by another demanding protection from asset shifts and cash transfers, which would potentially make it impossible to receive a settlement, should the original suit over some US$900,000 in dispute be decided in their favor, only is the tip of the iceberg it was learned.

"Times are tough right now, tourism is just entering its mid season, inflation is running high, and the shilling is low, which makes procurement of spares and external services like insurance or maintenance a lot more expensive in shilling terms. So business and leisure travel is not as heavy as we would like, and the elections next year are not helping us either. It is a difficult period for private airlines now.

"Kenya Airways now even flies twice a day to Juba, where a year ago they did not fly at all. This left the route to us and another Kenyan airline, and now there we also have to share the cake like for Mombasa and Kisumu. Our financial resources are more limited, our cash flow is more limited [than] that of KQ, and who knows, maybe in a few weeks or months another private airline is going to fold over financial issues," said one regular source from Nairobi, sounding not exactly convincing though and certainly not as cheerful as usual when passing information, as always under the cover of strict anonymity, to this correspondent.

For now it remains to be seen where the present situation is taking the aviation industry in Kenya, and while the safari airlines report booming business, in particular on their services to and from the Masai Mara where the great migration is presently underway, others are not so lucky.

Source eturbo-news

Arik Air Passengers Stranded in Senegal - Authority Grounds Plane Over Debts

More than 100 Nigerian passengers scheduled to be airlifted home by Arik Air, are presently stranded at the Dakar Airport, Senegal, due to the inability of the Nigerian carrier to pay Senegalese authority airport charges


Daily Independent learnt that Arik Air was supposed to convey the passengers Nigeria since July 13, but that since the airline has failed to take them home, they are still stranded in the country.

A female passenger Chinwe Mezue, who called from Senegal, said that over 100 passengers have been abandoned by the airline, adding that they have been sleeping at the airport for the past one week.

She said that when the situation was becoming unbearable, 25 passengers approached the Nigerian Ambassador to Senegal to see if he could resolve the issue but all to no avail.

On why the passengers did not make their complaints known to the Arik Air Station Manager, Mezue said the Station Manager had abandoned his house following threat by stranded and angry passengers to deal with him if he fails to provide aircraft for them to return to Nigeria.

The angry passenger said that when the authority of the airport was contacted on the issue, it was alleged that Arik Air was grounded because it refused to pay airport charges.

She said that the greatest challenge the passengers are having now is that they have no money on them and that they have exhausted all what they have on them.

Attempt to reach the Media Officer of Arik Air , Mr Banji Ola proved abortive, as his mobile numbers were not available.

Airlines, oil marketers, ground handling companies and government agencies are indebted to aviation service providers and the regulator, a jumbo sum of N32.4 billion as at April 30 this year.

Top on the list of the debtors is Arik Airline whose debt profile in FAAN records indicate that it is owing N1,965,475,207.64 from its operations in and out of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos and N797,435,128.34 at the General Aviation Terminal(GAT), Ikeja, Lagos totalling N2.762 billion.
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Kenya Airways CEO Rejects AFRAA worries over Gulf Carriers, Adds More Middle East Routes

Kenya Airways chief, Titus Nalkuni, has rejected claims by AFRAA that Gulf airlines pose a threat to African aviation growth by poaching staff.

“We have lost just three or four staff to a Gulf airline and two of those came back,” Nalkuni said at the Embraer organised Connectivity in Africa conference in Nairobi this morning.

Kenya Airways Chief Dr Titus Naikuni
“In fact we have so many unemployed highly educated people here, they would be doing us a favour. Take them,” Nalkuni said.

Nalkuni said the East African airline had extensive plans for growth over the next ten years and has just agreed deals for two new B777-300ER aircraft from Boeing and leased a B747 freighter and two B737 freighters to give the growing cargo business a boost when they join the fleet in October.

The B777s will be delivered in 2013 and will be utilised on routes to the Indian subcontinent.
Kenya Airways is to begin flights to Beirut and Jeddah later in the year.

“We are still working on the Jeddah details,” Nalkuni said, “ There is a problem with slots at the moment. The times that we are being offered don’t fit in with our schedule.”

Investment in the infrastructure at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta international airport and the roads around it has given a boost to the Kenyan economy and to the national airline.

“We have a shortage of pilots,” Nalkuni said, “We have introduced new training schemes to encourage and support Kenyan nationals, but we will also be hiring foreign captains, particularly for our Boeing 737 fleet.
“And our conditions are better than the Middle East,” he laughed.

Air Nigeria Re-Establishing Long Haul Routes

Air Nigeria is resuming long-haul operations after a nearly three-year hiatus, with A340-300 flights to London Gatwick commencing in Sep-2011. The carrier is also aiming to use its newly acquired A340-300 fleet to resume flights to Johannesburg and launch Washington Dulles with the latter designed to supplement its new codeshare service via Delta Air Lines to Atlanta and New York.


The Air Nigeria-Delta codeshare, which commenced last month, is an important step to ensure the continued growth of trade and travel between the US and Nigeria. Delta is now carrying Air Nigeria’s code on the New York-Accra-Abuja route and on its non-stop service to Lagos from Atlanta.

Continuing its international reach, Air Nigeria will re-launch service to London, which was dropped in 2009. This time the carrier will operate to London Gatwick rather than London Heathrow as it no longer has access to Virgin slots.

Air Nigeria was first established in 2004 under the name Virgin Nigeria after Nigeria’s government and Virgin Atlantic Airways signed a Memorandum of Mutual Understanding to create the carrier. Virgin Nigeria operated to London Heathrow and Johannesburg as its two flagship, long-haul destinations. In Jan-2009, while still operating as Virgin Nigeria, these routes were suspended due to high competition on the route.

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AFRAA Slams Gulf Carriers over "Poaching" habits

The head of the African Airline Association (AFRAA) hit out today at the Gulf carriers and other Middle East aviation companies for poaching staff and gaining unfair route advantages over African airlines
Elijah Chingosho, AFRAA’s secretary general said at an Embraer-organised airline business seminar in Nairobi today, that his organisation has written to the African Union to make formal complaints against Middle Eastern companies that, he said, were potentially destroying the aviation industry across the African continent.
 
Chingosho named Abu Dhabi-based MRO specialist ADAT as one of the companies.
“We saw in one week, ADAT poaching 17 experienced staff from Ethiopian Airlines. Not only has that removed a huge number of vital staff that the airline has invested in with training over the years, it has also put the viability of that airline at risk,” he said.

Chingosho also said that Africa was being “invaded by operators from outside the continent,” and said that carriers from the region were being shut out.

A number of Middle Eastern carriers have increased their reach into Africa particularly as demand from Asia for routes into the continent have increased.
“What we don’t understand is how airlines like Qatar and Emirates are able to gain access to certain African countries while African carriers face barriers. If it is ok for Emirates to fly a daily route, why can’t an African carrier?” he asked.

Chingosho also said that the political uncertainties in North Africa and the Middle East had severely affected the progress that the continent had been making in attracting tourism.

“We have seen a large impact in numbers as a result of the perception of uncertainty,” Chingosho said. “It has negatively affected tourism,” he said.

He added that airlines like Egyptian Air, Libyan Airways, Afriqiyah and Tunisian had to cut flights which led to a dip in the traffic numbers.

Chingosho also claimed a reluctance to implement open skies agreements and greater liberalisation by governments coupled with a larger than global average taxation for air travellers were holding back the growth of the air transport industry in Africa.

“We need greater liberalisation and harmonisation of regulations and policies of the stakeholders,” Chingosho said. He called on those countries ready to liberalise now to take action and let the other countries that are delaying, to see the benefits. "We have a group of countries we call CREW, that are ready and willing to liberalise. They need to do so now.

“This is a fast growing market with enormous opportunities. Infrastructure needs to be upgraded and improved to take advantage of these opportunities,” Chingosho said.

However, leading economist , Giulia Pellegrini from JP Morgan warned that rising and high inflation across sub-Saharan Africa should mean governments slow down spending on infrastructure. “A free spending approach will add to the inflation problem,” she said.

Chingosho also claimed that the EU blacklist on many African airlines was primarily a commercial action driven by the French government to protect French operations.

“Airlines in some countries have met international standards and yet they are on the blacklist. Air France operates into those countries with some of its highest yields. In fact nine of the top ten most profitable Air France routes are to Africa. It is in their interest to push for a blacklist to stop competition. You only need one country to raise an objection but a whole committee to reverse it . It is in their commercial interest to keep quiet.

He said there were even countries without a single aircraft on their register that had been added to the blacklist.

“Somebody in Iceland booking a flight to Africa will not consider an African airline because of the perception that all African airlines are unsafe, They don’t look at airlines that Kenyan, Royal Air Maroc, South African or EgyptAir. It would be much fairer to publish and promote the list of ‘ safe African airlines’.


“At the same time we hear the EU say that airlines from a country are on the blacklist because they are concerned about safety operations and yet it is ok for European airlines to fly into these countries. It would carry more weight fif they were to say EU airlines are banned from flying there because it is unsafe,” he said.
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Finally, Kisumu International Airport set for Global TakeOff

The third busiest airport in Kenya has seen a transformation from domestic to international standards, raising hopes it will spur regional economic growth and lower the historic poverty levels.

Kisumu Airport had been serving just ten airlines flying domestic routes and only carrying passengers.
In October 2008, the expansion and the upgrading of the airport began, with a total of Sh3 billion being set aside by the government and the World Bank to improve the strategic airport.

The runway, which was initially 2.1 kilometres was extended a kilometre longer, while its width was extended by 15 meters to accommodate larger planes.

The airport’s apron has also been expanded, and a new terminus that can attend to up to 700 passengers per hour was built. The terminal has the ability to check in passengers for eight flights simultaneously.

Although the airport was intended to be completed in 22 months, construction works were delayed due to constant wrangles between the Kenya Airports Authority and members of the clan, who live in areas surrounding the airport.


The completion of the construction works at the airport sparks new hopes for investors in the western region, who are optimistic that the expansion and upgrading to international standards will boost the region’s economy by opening up new business opportunities.


 Farmers and businessmen have started introducing new crops, products and investments in preparation for the commissioning of the airport and introduction of cargo flights.

Earlier this month, the authority unveiled a new raft of investment opportunities, which included provision of aviation fuel, ground handling services and the management of an automated car park.
“We are now focusing on enhancing new business opportunities and encouraging people to open up more,” KAA managing director Stephen Gichuki said during a stake holder’s business forum in the lake side city.


After commissioning, Kisumu International Airport will have large aircraft like the Boeing B737 and B767 landing safely.


The third busiest airport in the country has recorded steady growth in passenger numbers. In December last year, passenger numbers increased to 24,271 up from 16,989 in 2009.
The expansion which has lasted two years is expected to offer an estimated 30,000 jobs and boost bilateral trade.

Apart from the direct earning expected from businesses and employment, Nyanza Province and the whole of western region expects to receive a higher number of domestic and foreign tourists.
Locals also enjoy enhanced security while value for land adjacent to the facility has appreciated tremendously.

Several construction projects have also sprung up around the facility while numerous hotels have been built or are under construction within and around the lake side city.

Even nearby towns like Ahero are now feeling the growth ahead of the commissioning of the new facility which will greatly open up the region for serious business with the rest of the world. Fish, horticultural products will now be exported directly to Europe and other world markets.

During a visit to the facility earlier this month however, the PS Cyrus Njiru of the Ministry of Transport said that the facility will not hold cargo flights yet, but collaboration between several stake holders would speed up cargo handling facilities and the emergence of cargo flights.

“The second phase of the airport expansion will concentrate on handling cargo flights, being the biggest need of the area that requires economic growth and poverty eradication” Mr Njiru said.
“We can now proudly say that the airport expansion and upgrading has been successful despite the various challenges that the Ministry and the Kenya Airports Authority faced” Mr Njiru said.


The PS attributed the delay in completion to the need to meet international standards and expectations of travellers, now that the facility was being transformed.
“The government needed to deliver a fist class international airport and fit it in the class stipulated by Vision 2030,” Mr Njiru said.

Ethiopian Airlines: The ‘Dreamliner turned Nightmare’

The ‘Dreamliner turned Nightmare’ scenario seems to continue unabated, as Boeing had to admit to yet another delay, this one caused by the need to re-engineer sections of the aircraft already under assembly as a result of findings from a series of test flights carried out until now.

Ethiopian Airlines, which expected the first of their long overdue B787’s before the end of 2011, may now have to wait a further three months into early 2012 before the first aircraft will be delivered to them, and other airlines too are bracing themselves for added waiting periods. It is understood that the aircraft already out of the assembly line are all being worked on one after the other but at a slower pace than foreseen, wrecking yet another timeline Boeing had given to impatient operators, many of which can’t wait to retire or sell off their existing Boeing long haul aircraft like the B 767, which have become simply too expensive to maintain and operate in comparison with competing Airbus models and in particular the B 787.

It is not clear entirely what happened in regard of additional work now required to get the assembled planes to delivery status, but Boeing seems to have notified, according to a US based aviation source, their suppliers for the B 787 parts, to halt delivery for the time being while these re-engineering issues are being resolved.

A source from Addis Ababa expressed regret over the additional delay but was confident that ‘this is surely the last postponement we are now told about’ and that all ordered aircraft of this type would be delivered from 2012 onwards as planned.  Watch this space for the most uptodate aviation news from the Eastern African and Indian Ocean region.

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Aviation in Rwanda: Bugesera Airport Design and Consultants Report Due Out in August

Information was received overnight from Kigali confirming that the long awaited consultants’ report about the design proposals for the new international airport ‘Bugesera’ will be published next month, allowing stakeholders and the public at large to study it in detail.

Rwanda is presently connected to the world via Kanombe International Airport in Kigali but it was felt that a second, state of the art international airport would be crucial to the country’s future economic and social development.

The time frame for the development of the new aviation hub is still unclear although government has let it be known that once the various reports on detailed designs for the new airport have been broadly agreed upon, it would invite private sector developers to come on board and help achieve this project.
Kanombe International Airport is also the home base for RwandAir, one of the fastest growing ‘smaller’ airlines in the region. RwandAir is due to receive a brand new Boeing 737-800 in a few weeks time and a second one later in the year, allowing it further expansion and more flights into the nearer and wider East African region.

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Construction Kisumu International Airport Finally Coming to Conclusion

Construction on the expanded runway, taxiway and apron is gradually nearing completion at the Kisumu airport, after the terminal building and other facilities had been upgraded and expanded before already.

The ‘new’ Kisumu airport, which on the occasion of ‘inaugurating’ it by the end of July is expected to be named a new international airport, will then have runway of 3.3 kilometres length, capable for the landing and takeoff by all wide bodied aircraft presently in use. Passenger throughput capacity has been raised to as many as 700 per hour, although that is not expected to be fully utilized until a much later stage.

Presently the airport is served by daily jet and turboprop flights from Nairobi and airlines like Kenya Airways, Fly 540 and Jetlink, amongst others, offer a choice of connections spread across the day to suit business and leisure travelers.

After Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and Wilson Airport in Nairobi, Moi International Airport in Mombasa, Malindi and Eldoret, Kisumu’s importance as an aviation gateway has significantly increased in recent years, taking the airport to number three amongst the ‘main’ airports, i.e. after Nairobi and Mombasa, with Wilson Airport, due to its special status for general aviation as well as ‘safari flights’ being in a different league altogether. Watch this space for the announcement later in July, that the ‘tape’ was officially cut, making ‘Kisumu International’ finally a reality.

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Another Power Outage hits JKIA-Airlines Demand Action/Resignations

Earlier this morning was East Africa’s most important aviation gateway, the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, again hit by a power outage, delaying incoming and outgoing flights.
Kenya Airways just moments ago tweeted their return to normal operations to their thousands of followers on Twitter, and also announced the same on their Facebook page, to reach as many as possible – notably with an apology while the Kenya Airport Authority, responsible for the repeated mess, remains shtumm as usual.

Said one regular source from JIKA to this correspondent when passing the information: ‘These people at KAA have no idea how to run an airport. Only recently a water boiler exploded. This is probably the fourth or fifth outage with major consequences for safety and huge cost for us air operators.
It is time someone responsible is getting fired now or some of these clowns resign because they simply cannot deliver. As long as politics are involved in aviation, like the past CEO Muhoho who is related to high up, there can never be professionalism. They should all be put on a one way flight to Antarctica or some place isolated and never come back to JKIA.’

The damage done to airlines this year alone through power failures without back up immediately coming on line has not been formally quantified but is thought to have run into the combined millions of dollars.

Time to wake up KAA and face reality and DEAL with such issues once and for all, before something major happens when the light go out at night as a plane is about to touch down!

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Jomo Kenyatta International Airport Power Failure: Sack them all, and do it Now!

SACK THEM, ALL OF THEM, AND DO IT NOW
A second major power failure hit Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport last night, again forcing airlines to divert flights to other airports in Kenya and the region, while awaiting power to be restored.

Only two days earlier did the same happen in the early morning hours, when national airline Kenya Airways is ordinarily processing thousands of connecting passengers from regional destinations flying via Nairobi. Over a dozen flights had to be diverted, at airlines’ expense to such places like Mombasa, Entebbe and even beyond, costing hundreds of thousands of US Dollars the Kenya Airport Authority is now expected to compensate for.

Comments from airline personnel on Sunday were acid, but nothing compared to the lastest tsunami of invectives coming the direction of this correspondent, when in touch late last night with personnel based at JKIA. The management of Kenya Airports Authority was predictably shtumm on this second major outage lasting several hours during the evening peak period, prompting calls for the authority’s ‘Damaging’ Director as one outspoken regular source said, to be sacked together with others responsible for these regular outages. ‘We are faced with a lot of cost and will probably go to court with KAA for compensation. This is gross misconduct and they are not taking their duties and us seriously. We are the reason, we airlines are the reason they exist, they feed off us with exorbitant fees, and what do we get? Boilers exploding, power interruptions time and again and NO BACK UP in place which comes on instantly. We are fed up with these people and demand their immediate resignation or sacking, whatever comes first’.

Sources from Kenya Power, another parastatal in the cross hairs of Kenyan consumers and the media, denied any responsibility for these outages claiming the substation at JKIA was ‘powered up’ and that internal wiring and short circuits were responsible for the JKIA electricity problems. Another aviation source in Nairobi conceded this saying ‘this is possible, the contractors may be doing shoddy work, cutting wires when digging and that goes to project supervision. If KAA has no capacity to do a good supervisions of the work done to expand JKIA, the must employ competent engineers to do that for them, and it also casts a very bad light on the contractors they are using to build our airport. If already now there are such big problems, what will those buildings look like in a few years, or will the apron spaces crack up and get potholes for shoddy workmanship? There is something seriously wrong at KAA and best key managers now leave and make space for new recruits from the private sector who can do the job’.

While no one at Kenya Airways, the biggest user of services at JKIA, would go on official record, it was nevertheless learned that the airline will seek immediate audience with the transport ministry in the morning to also demand instant improvements and changes at KAA. Two other airline executives from privately owned airlines using JKIA left open the question of compensatory damages, only saying that this will be discussed within the airlines’ own regular meetings to devise a strategy and way forward.

Watch this space as the JKIA saga and the drama at KAA continue.


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New fare war on Entebbe-Nairobi Route?

Inspite of continuously high fuel prices and inflationary pressures on airlines have fares between Entebbe and Nairobi started to move again, downwards that is.

According to travel agents, keenly monitoring these developments to give their clients the best possible deal, return flights now sell from US Dollars 268, all inclusive on Fly 540, closely followed by Air Uganda from where tickets are available at US Dollars 270. Yet, market leader Kenya Airways is not far behind either with the lowest fare quoted at US Dollars 273, making it a tight race where only 5 US Dollars separate the three carriers flying daily on the route.

Kenya Airways seems to be making the most of it, courtesy of their frequent flyer programme, where even the lowest fares attract ‘miles’, which can eventually be turned into free tickets, while Air Uganda’s ‘Celestair’ frequent flyer programme remains restricted to lesser options at this time how to utilize miles credit, at least in comparison to KQ.

Trends also remain steady in Kenya Airways’ favour in regard of onward connections into the wider region and across the continent, where it captures the lion’s share of connecting traffic via Nairobi, while Air Uganda offers, at least on the key regional routes, nonstop flights for instance to Dar es Salaam.

Current inflation levels have hit the travel market too and those who can and do travel inevitably seek the best connections, best deals, best benefits via their frequent flyer memberships and departure times best suited to their needs. The ‘battle over the East African skies – reloaded’. Watch this space.

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Entebbe International Airport Cleared as an A380 Emergency Landing Airport

The Civil Aviation Authority over the weekend released information that the airport was cleared by an inspection panel of Emirates, Dubai’s award winning airline, to serve as an emergency landing airport, following successful ‘simulations’ being carried out. It is understood that the airline was seeking landing site options for emergency diversions which might occur in flight. A source at the CAA added that the airport was cleared however with the restriction that upon landing the two outer engines needed to be shut down for taxiing as the width of runway and taxiway was not yet expanded to the size an A 380 would under normal circumstances require to taxi under all four engines running.

Entebbe is due for another major expansion in coming years, which will include added apron spaces for aircrafts to be parked, the eventual relocation of the cargo centre to the ‘old airport’ side and the doubling in size of the passenger terminal to cater for the anticipated growth in air traffic. Watch this space.

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Kenya Airways CEO Titus Naikuni Interview with CNN

CNN's David McKenzie sat down with Kenya Airways CEO Dr. Titus Naikuni to discuss the recent growth of the African airline industry.

CNN: Kenya Airways is expanding rapidly in Africa. Why is Africa such a good market for you?
Titus Naikuni: I don't think we're expanding rapidly -- if you ask me, I would have wanted to expand three times what we are doing right now.
But we've got limitations in terms of getting the right pilots, in terms of getting traffic rights -- because it's a political business where you don't just wake up one morning and decide to fly into a particular destination.
Africa is important to us and dear to us because it's a growing market. It's still, to me, unserviced. If you look at West Africa, it's not fully serviced. If you look at some pockets in Central Africa, it's not serviced.
And even when it's serviced, I don't think we are providing the best service because we're going to only one frequency in between some destinations. We still have restrictions, in the sense that you can't move from one city to another and pick up passengers.

CNN: So if you fly from Nairobi to Lagos, you can't pop over to Abuja, pick up people and come back to Nairobi. Why is that?
TN: It's just the political nature of the business, protectionism. People are protecting their own skies. In some countries, it is possible. You are able to negotiate. It's called freedom rights.

CNN: You would think these countries, which effectively, most of them don't have a viable national carrier, would want a service for their customers.
TN: Yeah, I mean, that's common sense, but common sense is not always common. In some countries there is that realization. In other countries, it's not there.
We're Kenyan by name, but if you look below the name Kenya, you see the pride of Africa ... and so yeah, we're a de facto national carrier for some of the countries.

CNN: Who is your ideal customer in Africa? What sort of person?
TN: We have a real mix here, because you have the traders ... you have the (new) investors ... say from India. Then you have the traditional investors who've been in Africa for long, from Europe ... and then you have the tourists, depending on which country you're looking at.

CNN: Some of the regions you're going to aren't necessarily the most stable places. Does that worry you from a business perspective to take this leap and say, 'I'm going to be flying to Abidjan on a weekly basis' and then have those hits to the business?
TN: We have a very huge security system where ... we do an assessment of every country before we decide that we're going to fly into it. In fact, like Abidjan... we had our own person on the ground who was advising not to do it and we stopped.

CNN: What are some of the big challenges of flying into new routes, even like Juba in Southern Sudan? What keeps you up at night?
TN: The challenges are -- first of all, the experience of the staff that are there, because some of these countries don't have the right personnel. You're looking at air traffic controllers, you're looking at ground facilities and so forth, but we do carry out audits before we go in there.
So really, the thing that makes me awake at night is whether some of the navigation aids are working or not in some of the airports.

CNN: What is the advantage from a business perspective, of getting into these places first, as a major carrier -- given the fact that you've got South African Airways and Ethiopian Airways, the other two big players in the African market?
TN: I think the advantage you have over the others if you get in first is that you start getting customers early enough and you make sure that you implant yourself in the minds of the people.
I don't ignore the fact that the two carriers mentioned are major competitors and we compete and sometimes cooperate in some situations.

You can watch the full video of interview on CNN, it seems CNN does not allow embedding of their videos. They want to run some 10 second ads on them.

Aviation in Egypt: EgyptAir Cabin Crew Demand right to wear hijab

EgyptAir flight attendants organized a protest on Sunday outside the Ministry of Civil Aviation to demand their right to wear a hijab (headscarf) while working. The flight attendants had previously presented a formal request to the company about the issue.

 EgyptAir Chairman Hussein Massoud said that a committee was formed nearly a month ago to study the flight attendants’ request. He went on to say that any change in uniform policy would take time and that a number of considerations would have to be taken into account in order to design a uniform which would be suitable for the hijab.

EgyptAir Cabin Crew


Masoud added that the committee includes two female flight attendants who are part of the push to allow the wearing of the hijab, and that it will make the final decision as to whether or not a change is feasible.

Airlines urge Kenyan government to speed up Airport Work

Under pressure by air operators, in particular the national airline Kenya Airways, and faced with a growing list of airlines wanting to fly into Nairobi, were it not for capacity constraints, the government finally made its stand known on the ongoing expansion of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport was quoted to have said: ‘We cannot wait until December next year. Measuresmust be taken to hasten completion of the project’.

Much of the current delay in the expansion works are attributed to wrangles under the past CEO of the Kenya Airport Authority which set board members against each other and the board against the Chief Executive, in the process leading to allegations upon allegations over improprieties, and subsequent delays in advertising and awarding tenders.

This left airlines upset and angry as their passengers have to squeeze during peak hours – now lasting for much of the day – in overcrowded terminals and faced with often long queues at security checkpoints, at immigration and when collecting baggage. Kenya Airways in fact, presently on a massive expansion drive with adding more aircraft to their fleet and expanding their network at a rapid pace, seems the main victim of KAA’s failure to add aircraft parking spaces, a new terminal and a second runway, and has repeatedly in the past complained that competitors, in particular Ethiopian Airlines, are enjoying better facilities and facilitation in their own home hub of Addis Ababa, to the detriment of cementing Nairobi’s superior position as the leading East African aviation hub.

Kenya Airways is expecting to have 3 additional Embraer 190AR aircraft delivered between now and early 2012, following which 10 more such aircraft are under order and a further 10 under option, and 9 Boeing 787 too will start arriving in Kenya from 2013 onwards, besides options for a further 4 of those long haul planes.

International airlines are either planning to add more frequencies to their Nairobi route while others intend to start flights to Kenya but the availability of ‘slots’ during ‘rush hour’ and the absence of a second runway in Nairobi has impacted negatively on potential growth, in the process also capping tourism growth numbers due to lack of capacity. Watch this space as the KAA and the contractors are now under pressure to add extra work shifts and begin an around the clock construction schedule so as to speed up completion of critical phases of the ongoing works.

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Gulf Air Returns to Nairobi after 6 year Absence

After an absence of nearly 6 years has Gulf Air now returned to Nairobi, offering an initial 4 flights per week between Bahrain and Kenya. Industry observers attribute this decision to the generally promising market conditions in Kenya in particular, a sharp departure from the company’s assessment 6 years ago, when they left the route in the face of stiff competition from the likes of Emirates.
Gulf Air at one stage flew even to Uganda’s Entebbe International Airport but withdrew from there even earlier before pulling out from East Africa altogether.

The return of Gulf was generally welcomed by travel agents and the business community as the added competition would keep fares to final destinations in the Gulf network, when flying via Bahrain, at lower levels, but some sources were swift in pointing out that unless Gulf Air moves towards daily flights they might be restricted to absorbing ‘bargain seekers’ only, as much of their traffic is thought to fly beyond Bahrain.

But for now it is a hearty Karibu Sana to Gulf Air and happy landings in Kenya once again.

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Yemenia Reduces Nairobi Flights

It was confirmed overnight that Yemenia has cut its regular services from Sana to Nairobi to one only, as a result of less travel demand and an almost total disappearance of transit passengers, afraid to be stuck in Yemen should the situation deteriorate, making it impossible for onward flights to operates should crews and staff be unable to reach their work places due to unrest.


This is a similar scenario as seen early this year when Egypt Air was equally affected and transit passengers abandoned the airline in search of ‘safer connection hubs’, eventually leading to a wide spread cancellation of flights, which only now have started to resume pre-crisis levels.

An aviation source claiming to be ‘close’ to Yemenia in Nairobi also mentioned that other flights by Yemenia from Sana, like to Dubai, were also affected and that the financial survival of the airline was now under threat as passengers travelling via Yemen’s main airport and visitors to Yemen now stayed away from both airline and country as the troubles there continued. Watch this space.

US-Kenya Flights: Direct Flights will Double US Tourisr Arrivals

The Kenyan Minister of Tourism Hon. Najib Balala has expressed his hope that a fresh round of bilateral talks on direct flights between Kenya and the United States would eventually result in such flights being launched, following the failed attempt by Delta in past years to connect the US to Nairobi via West Africa. While such flights to West Africa did go ahead, to places like Monrovia even, Nairobi was ‘blacklisted’ according to a well informed US source over ‘security concerns’ but more likely as a political slap across Kenya’s face by the US administration in regard to a range of other contentious issues between the two professed ‘friends’.

Presently over 100.000 Americans visit Kenya, regularly defying State Department anti travel advisories, which too are thought to be a political tool and have due to regular ‘overuse’ lost much of its credibility in recent years.

According to the minister Kenya’s arrivals from the US could more than double in years to come as direct or even nonstop flights would make it more attractive for Americans to travel to East Africa without the present stopover in Europe, the Gulf or the three African airports of Johannesburg, Cairo and Addis Ababa, from where nonstop services fly daily into key American cities.

Other airlines have by the way dismissed the ‘concerns’ by the Americans over safety and security of air travel in Kenya as ‘a shallow and blatant attempt to dress up other political issues’, claiming that they are flying daily into Nairobi. Leading global airline giants like Emirates, Qatar, British Airways, Swiss, KLM/ Air France, Brussels Airlines, Virgin, South African, Ethiopian and many others land every day at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and yet more airlines are planning to come to Kenya. The facilities at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport are due to be dramatically enlarged, including a second runway and an additional brand new passenger terminal, to cater for such an influx, cementing Nairobi’s standing as THE aviation hub in Eastern Africa.

Says this correspondent in a parting shot: ‘Trust but know whom’ when it comes to reading about the ‘reasons’ why the Delta flights on the very eve of the inaugural ceremony were unceremoniously cancelled.

Precision Air to take delivery of B737-300

Tanzania’s premier airline, and following the demise of Air Tanzania THE flag carrier of the country, is due to take delivery of a leased B737-300 aircraft in less than two weeks time, according to a regular aviation source in Dar es Salaam. The aircraft, offering a dual class configuration, will have 116 seats and boost the fleet of the airline, allowing more flights to more destinations.


I loved this little piece of creativity on Precision Air Website; you can actually explore the interior using the four arrow keys.

The Comoros will be the next international destination it was learned, with the inaugural flight being operated on 17th of August, with initially three flights a week. Plans to resume flights to Johannesburg are also in the final stages of preparation, as more aircraft will join the fleet in coming months. Meanwhile will the lakeside municipality of Mwanza see the daily number of flights to Dar es Salaam rise to five from the present three, either nonstop or via Kilimanjaro / Arusha.

The same source also confirmed that Precision Air will base one of their ATR aircraft in Mwanza to serve other lakeside towns like Bukoba but also Kigoma and Musoma.

Watch this space for the latest breaking news from the Eastern African and Indian Ocean aviation scenes.

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Kigali's Kanombe Airport gets new Fueling Trucks

Three new state of the art Mercedes Benz fueling trucks were launched yesterday at the Kanombe International Airport in Kigali, replacing the old equipment with two 36.000 litre vehicles and one of 18.000 litre capacity. This will now be enough to refuel several aircraft at once, including long haul ‘birds’ as the A330 which makes regular appearances in Kigali from European carriers like Brussels Airlines and KLM, but can also serve smaller turbo prop aircraft like RwandAir’s ‘Dash 8’.

The Rwandan minister for infrastructure, who was present at the launch, also disclosed that it was government’s intention to increase fuel storage capacity at the airport from 2 million litres to 3 million litres in the short term, to be better equipped to deal with interruptions in the supply chain, while at the same time also inviting more investments at the country’s premier aviation facility, aimed to make Kanombe International more competitive vis a vis regional neighbours.

Planning for a brand new international airport outside Kigali, to be known as Bugesera International Airport, is also ongoing and further announcements on that project can be read here as and when new developments take place.

Post Credit Wolfganghthome blog

Rwandair's First B737-800NG Now in Production Line

The first of two ordered Boeing 737-800’s, due to join the RwandAir fleet in a couple of weeks, is now on the production line in Seattle, where the hull arrived yesterday from Kansas City.
 The aircraft according to the airline’s CEO John Mirenge, is due for delivery on August 25th and a second aircraft then at a yet to be disclosed date in September. A number of RwandAir staff are at present also undergoing training in maintenance procedures at Boeing while the pilots selected to fly the new ‘birds’ are taking their type conversion courses and are undergoing simulator training to be ready to fly the new aircraft home to ‘The Land of a Thousand Hills’ and deliver it to a proud nation.
RwandAir is the African launch customer for the new ‘Sky Interior’ look which Boeing is now starting to deliver to customers around the world and the airline’s passengers will be the first to experience this new inflight experience on the continent. 




The final production stage is expected to last for 11 days after which the aircraft will undergo pre-delivery testing of all systems and conduct a series of test flights before being handed over to RwandAir in August.

The airplane will be handed over to Rwandair on 25 August 2011. Some nine Rwandans have already concluded their maintenance training in the USA, pilots familiarization on the Boeing 737 – 800 is on-going and the airline expects to send their cabin crew for training on the same aircraft shortly.  RwandAir is  the first airline in Africa to order and receive the Boeing 737–800 with the Sky Interior Concept.

Air Mauritius Launches China Flights

Shanghai is the latest destination for Air Mauritius after the destination was launched earlier in the week.


The inaugural flight, there is for the time being a once a week flight to Shanghai via Kuala Lumpur before going nonstop by early 2012, left SSR International Airport (Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam) with over 200 passengers and an official delegation on board of an Airbus A330-200 aircraft, which offers 275 seats in a two class configuration. It was reported that both the Mauritius president Sir Anerood Jugnauth as well as the Mauritius Tourism Minister Hon. Nando Bodha were on the flight on an official visit to China to discuss bilateral cooperation. They were accompanied by private sector stakeholders, in particular from the tourism industry, to also launch a tourism promotion to bring more Chinese visitors to the island in coming months.

The head of the Air Mauritius delegation, Mr. Andre Viljoen, then officially opened the airline’s new offices in Shanghai, expressing hopes that the flight will grow in popularity and that the promotion of tourism and trade between the two countries would be to the mutual benefit of both nations. Happy Landings.

Article Courtesy Wolfganghthome blog

Aviation in Mauritius: Airports Remain Profitable

Information from this Indian Ocean island just received talks of substantial profits for the Airports of Mauritius corporation, in excess of over Rupees 770 million. This according to the source constitutes an increase of about 8.4 percent over the financial year 2009, leaving shareholders and management satisfied with the results.

Only recently was it learned that the government of Mauritius was considering allowing more flights by foreign airlines into the country to support tourism growth and match seats with beds, and added air traffic will of course then also reflect in the books of the airport company through greater fee income as a result of more aircraft movements.

The main shareholder, the Government of Mauritius,reportedly received a dividend of 160 million Rupees, or 10 percent of the overall revenue of 1.6 billion Rupees the airport made in 2010. The balance of the profits was retained in order to roll out and pay for an ambitious modernization programme for the international airport. Watch this space.

Article Courtesy Wolfganghthome Blog

South Sudan: New Money for a New Country

Next Monday will see the launch of the South Sudan Pound – yes, not the hoped for South Sudan Shilling as was anticipated in East African circles – which will become the legal tender for the new Republic of South Sudan just as soon as the new notes and coins ‘hit’ the commercial banks, foreign exchange bureaus, shops and markets.

The move was long expected to avoid the North swamp the South with paper money, driving inflation up and disturbing the money markets, but also to give the citizens of Africa’s youngest nation a sense of belonging, a sense of pride and a sense of true independence from the former slave masters.
The value of the new currency was initially pegged at 3 South Sudan Pounds to 1 US Dollar, and the exchange with the ‘old’ currency will be taking place at a ratio of one to one. No deadline for the end of the validity of the old notes was given but it is expected to be relatively short to avoid the North messing with the process.

In a related development it was also understood that the formal request to become an applicant member to the East African Community, by the new government of the South Sudan, is expected to be submitted in the very near future, triggering a period of harmonization and consultations with the EAC head quarters in Arusha but also with governments of the present five member states of Uganda, Kenya Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi. Joining the EAC is an expressed objective of the new government in order to reduce the cost of trading and to attract investments from neighbours, but the process, as was the case with Rwanda and Burundi, can be lengthy and complex as all key sectors of the economy of the South Sudan need to be aligned to the regulations and legislative frameworks of the EAC as it now stands. Watch this space.

Post Courtesy Wolfganghthome Blog

South Sudan: Juba Flights in Great Demand!

With the restrictions placed on the 08th and 09th of July on commercial flights to and from Juba now lifted, airlines are back on the route in full swing, if not more. Jetlink, in the run up to the Independence Day on 09th of July, went from 2 to 3 flights a day, all operated on their modern CRJ200 aircraft carrying up to 50 passenger on each flight, while Kenya Airways, now operating twice a day, up from previously one flight a day only, has in fact switched from the Embraer jets to the B737-800, doubling the seat capacity compared to the E170 they otherwise used before on each departure.


Juba Airport during Independence Celebrations
Said a source from Juba’s international airport: ‘we are experiencing a high volume of passenges now. After the independence weekend many travelers on business are flooding into Juba. They are looking for trade and investment chances and there are plenty. We are a new country now and need a complete infrastructure and our government is keen to get private investors in all sectors. So for now we welcome every one coming here and thank the airlines for their support. Some are flying more often than before and others are using bigger aircraft so that everyone who wants to come has a seat. Fares are still a bit high but we expect this to reduce because of competition between the airlines.’

Airline sources however lamented the crammed facilities in Juba for departure and arrivals and asked, without wishing to be named, that the new airport be finished very soon to avail better facilities for travelers and airline personnel working at the airport.

Hotels in Juba are reportedly fully booked, have been in the run up to the independence weekend and continue to be for the time being as the ‘novelty’ of visiting a new country and getting new ‘stamps’ in passports seems to hold a special attractions for many travelers, now reading ‘Republic of South Sudan’.

Watch this space.

Post Courtesy Wolfganghthome Blog
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Warid Air, Uganda Partnership: 800 Ugandans to Fly for "Free"

Give Wings to Your Dreams Promotion

Something fresh and innovative coming out of Uganda. Some 800 Ugandans will be flying for the first time in the next 8 weeks in a groundbreaking promotion between Air Uganda and Warid Telecom. The move is aimed at making flying more popular in Uganda but more importantly, earning the Telecom operator more loyal customers. It's a win-win-win.

“We will give out free return air tickets over the next eight weeks to give Ugandans, who have never used air transport before, a chance to fly to Nairobi, Dar-es-Salaam, Zanzibar or Kigali,” said Hugh Fraser, Air Uganda CEO, at the launch of the “Give wings to your dreams” promotion. 


The 'Give wings to your dreams' promotion will see 100 Warid subscribers win 100 Air Uganda tickets every week for a period of eight weeks. The telecom's subscribers will have to load at least Ush.1,000 ($0.4) or more to participate in the promotion that will see them win tickets to a destination of their choice within East Africa such as Zanzibar, Mombasa, Nairobi, Dar-es-Salaam and Kigali. These are some of the stunts this telecom service provider is pulling to attract more customers. The company is currently running a campaign to cover the western and Eastern parts of the Country by using the local papers whereby every customer who purchases these newspapers gets a free sim pack preloaded with airtime. The promotion will end on December 15, 2011.

Warid Telecom, an Abu Dhabi based company, joined Uganda's Telecommunications market in 2008.
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Santaco Airlines Livery

So the Taximen of South Africa are taking to the skies soon. Here's an entry that I have reblogged from Kyle Hwang, the prolific South African airline livery designer's blog Raydon Designs. Perhaps Santaco should give Kyle a call for some design ideas. Read On.

Taxi Airline
Over the weekend, South African National Taxi Council (SANTACO) announced plans to introduce a low cost airline in September 2011. Having a reputation for reckless driving on the roads, jokes immediately flew out (no pun intended) and I set off for some liveries. The livery on their website looks like someone photoshopped a 737 photo from airliners.net and the livery looks rather pathetic:

 My proposed livery adds a bit more colour (yellow, synomous with international taxi cabs) and a bit more swoosh, trying to get rid of their horrible taxi reputation. I can be nice sometimes:
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