Fly540 Introduces Jet Flights to Kisumu

LOW cost airline Fly540 has introduced jet aircraft on the Kisumu - Nairobi route as part of its plan to expand and reach a wider market. The airline officially announced plans to introduce jet flights in all its destinations as parts of its new expansion strategy.

The introduction of the jet flights will replace the turbo propeller aircraft previously used by the airline on the  route and will enable Fly540 meet the increased customer demand in other regional and  domestic routes. Fly540 is Kenya's only low cost carrier and early this month, the Lonrho group and Easy Jet Founder Stelios, took full control of the airline.

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Racism in Kenyan Tourism: Kenyans Denied Access to Flavio Briatore Resort

Post republished from Wolfgang H Thome blog
The tourism industry in Kenya, both private and public sector, are investigating claims made over the Christmas and New Year period, when African Kenyans went public on Twitter and Facebook, narrating experiences of being denied access to hotels and resorts and in one case being asked to leave from Flavio Briatore's Billionaire Resort in Malindi.

At the time did Mohamed Hersi, General Manager of the Sarova Whitesands Resort, make a few visits to the places mentioned in his capacity as an elected representative of the tourism industry, and found to his disdain that he too was denied access to some resorts for not being booked or having come without making prior arrangements with management.

While most resorts, hotels and safari lodges and camps in Kenya, and East Africa as a whole, treat ANY guest as a valued guest, there seem to be exceptions to this rule, and the now closed African Safari Club was most notorious for discriminating against local Kenyan visitors attempting to come into their maximum security facilities as one stakeholder from Mombasa put it at the time trying to spend their money on drinks and food.
It is Kenyas declared policy to achieve a 50 : 50 ratio in a few years between domestic and foreign tourists, something which will hopefully compel a few errant hotels and resorts to open their doors to any and all visitors coming in, as incidentally mandated by their terms and conditions of business, licensed by government, unless they are operating as a private members club, which was not the case in any of the incidents reported.

Most disturbing at the time when the tweets and FB posts were flying around en masse, were reports that African kids had been ushered to other pools leaving the main pools for the wagenis or foreign tourists, which if found correct investigations are still ongoing would amount to a clear case of racism, based on the colour of ones skin and not the colour of the money in their wallets. Such management has no place in todays East Africa and should be told to pack and go, while the owners ought to be taken to court to face charges for violating license conditions and for racism. 

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AviaAssist Foundations Calls for Nomination for the African Aviator Award

The London-based AviAssist Foundation has called for nominations for the African Aviator Award, a statement said on Saturday.

The statement stated that the prestigious African Aviator Award was aimed at rewarding safety champions and promote entry of Africans in the aviation industry.

African Aviator Award to Promote Entry of Africans into the Aviation Industry
It will include a trip to the awarding event, US$500 in cash and a hand-lettered citation.
"Everyday, thousands of professionals in Africa contribute to making commercial aviation the safest form of transportation,"the statement said.

"They do so not because they expect special recognition. They think safety and act in ways that promote safety because they know the aviation industry depends on it, and because it is the right thing to do."

It said aggregate data for the entire continent masks the gains from their professionalism and the role of safety champions among them.

The statement said that AviAssist Foundation could not salute all these men and women individually, "although it pays tribute to them through its work".

"From 2012 onwards, the AviAssist Foundation will single out individuals or teams that have made especially outstanding contributions to risk reduction, often during long periods or entire careers and award the African Aviator Award," AviAssist Director Tom Kok, said.

He disclosed that each year, the AviAssist Foundation will select a particular aviation profession as the focus for the award.

For 2012, the selected profession for the award is Air Traffic Management/Control in its widest sense, with the award being offered in co-operation with the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO), Kok stated.

The recipient of this prestigious international award will be selected by an independent selection board from among candidates nominated by aviation professionals and organizations worldwide.
The winner of the 2012 award will be selected from the nominations.

The deadline for nominations for the African Aviator award is September 1, 2012.

The award will be presented during an award dinner and awards ceremony at the 2012 CANSO Global ATM Safety Conference in Cape Town, South Africa on 29 October-2 November, in front of an audience of industry leaders and colleagues.

The 2012 award was instituted by the AviAssist Foundation in co-operation with the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation CANSO with sponsoring from among others CANSO, ATNS South Africa and KLM Airlines 

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Qatar Airways opens new Premium Lounge at London Heathrow

Qatar Airways has opened its new Premium Lounge at London Heathrow, reinforcing the importance of one of the airline’s busiest routes.

The Premium Lounge at Terminal 4 is the airline’s first dedicated facility for First and Business Class passengers outside its Doha hub.

The carrier currently operates the award-winning Premium Terminal at Doha International Airport, exclusively for use by passengers travelling in First or Business Class.

The opening marks the start of another busy year for the carrier, with the launch of new routes, as well as additional capacity on the Heathrow Airport – Doha route, which was stepped up from four to five flights a day from March 25th.

Following a landmark year in 2011, which saw Qatar Airways introduce 15 new destinations to its network and win the coveted World Travel Awards, the airline’s new Heathrow lounge is set to become the benchmark for international airport lounges.

Qatar Airways Premium Lounge at London Heathrow

Designed to resemble a boutique hotel or private member’s club rather than a conventional airport lounge, the new Qatar Airways Premium Lounge at Heathrow has been created to provide the ultimate in luxury and Five-Star service.

Qatar Airways recruited lounge staff from Five Star hotels and restaurants to work in the theatre-style Global Brasserie kitchen, innovative Delicatessen, and elegant Signature Martini bar.

The lounge also includes private shower facilities, with heated floors and mirrors, hotel-style towels and luxury brand toiletries and amenities.

Business and leisure travellers can stay connected with free Wi-Fi throughout the lounge, discreet power sockets at every seat and a business centre that includes PCs and printers.

Qatar Airways Premium Lounge at London Heathrow

Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker said that the new lounge reflected the importance of extending the airline’s award-winning service beyond the signature Premium Terminal in Doha.

“London has long been one of our best-performing routes, so Heathrow was an obvious choice for our first Premium Lounge outside Doha,” he said.

“With the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games taking place this summer, the international spotlight will be on the British capital and we look forward to the increase in capacity and welcoming more premium travellers on our high demand services to London.

“The lounge is the latest development in our expanding global network and will enable both loyal customers and those travelling with us for the first time, to take full advantage of the high levels of service we provide.”

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Seychelles government and Etihad Airways team up in new strategic partnership in Air Seychelles Ltd

The Government of Seychelles and Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding wherein Etihad will invest to acquire a 40 per cent stake in Air Seychelles Ltd as part of a strategic partnership alliance initiative between Air Seychelles and Etihad Airways.

The deal was announced today by Joel Morgan, Seychelles Minister of Home Affairs, Environment, Transport and Energy and James Hogan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Airways.

Etihad Airways’ investment of USD 20 million will be matched by an equal capital injection from the Government of Seychelles. In addition, Etihad Airways will also provide a shareholder’s loan of USD 25 million to meet working capital requirements and support network development.
 Mr Morgan said: “This is a game-changing strategic partnership for us, establishing Air Seychelles on a sustainable growth trajectory and offering a realistic way forward for long-term commercial growth.”

“The partnership simultaneously provides international presence, strategic penetration and a bright future for our national carrier.”

“The aviation industry is under enormous pressure right now, with small airlines especially vulnerable to global economic instability and ongoing oil price volatility. In this context, consolidation offers the best possible solution for Air Seychelles. This agreement will allow Air Seychelles to share the benefits of the visionary strategy of one of the world’s leading airlines and leverage its economies of scale and synergies.”

Mr Hogan said: “This deal is consistent with our approach to expansion, which relies on the strength of strategic partnerships across the globe. The investment in the national carrier of Seychelles is a natural next step towards growing our operations in the increasingly important leisure markets of the Indian Ocean and Africa.

“The Seychelles is a renowned leisure destination and its tourism industry is surging, as indicated by record-setting visitor numbers for the island nation in 2011. There is a need for greater connectivity to support this tourism boom, and both Air Seychelles and Etihad Airways are well-positioned to leverage that demand into substantial commercial growth.

The integration of the networks will give Air Seychelles greater opportunity to tap into key tourism feeder markets across Europe – such as Germany, France, Italy and the UK – where Etihad Airways’ presence is strong and growing.”

Asia, and more specifically China, is increasingly important to the Seychelles national economy. Apart from the Seychelles strategic geographic significance as a stepping stone between China and Africa, the island nation is also an important trading partner for Chinese business and an increasingly popular leisure destination for significant numbers of Chinese travellers.

The agreement, which is the first of its kind in Africa, makes for provision for a five-year management contract for Etihad Airways which will see the implementation of strategic measures to encourage Air Seychelles’ long-term commercial growth.

Importantly, the partnership will offer unprecedented career development opportunities and access to Etihad Airways state-of-the-art training academy and facilities in Abu Dhabi for Seychellois aviation professionals.

Etihad Airways has achieved a high level of success in encouraging and facilitating the professional growth and increased presence of nationals in the organisation following the implementation of its localisation program, and will support a similar knowledge and skill transfer for Seychellois within Air Seychelles.

Another important element of the agreement gives Air Seychelles office presence in Etihad Airways offices across the Etihad Airways network. This means vastly improved marketing possibilities for the country and its national carrier.

Finally, the new partnership will further drive consolidation of key functions, resulting in significant cost savings and process optimisation.

Also under the partnership:

- Etihad Airways will seek to increase frequency of flights between Abu Dhabi and Mahé from four per week to daily, as well as providing new services to the islands;
- Etihad Airways will work in conjunction with Air Seychelles to develop a renewed fleet and network growth plan for the island-based carrier;
- The airlines will sign a comprehensive codeshare agreement to include Etihad Airways-marketed flights across Air Seychelles’ network and Air Seychelles-marketed flights to Abu Dhabi and Etihad Airways destinations across Europe, the Middle East, the GCC, Asia and Australia.
- Etihad Guest and Seychelles Bonus, the airlines’ frequent flyer programs, will be integrated to include mileage earning and redemption on each other’s flights.

This agreement is Etihad Airways’ second equity investment, following its December 2011 announcement that it would increase its stake in airberlin to 29.21 per cent, making it the single biggest shareholder in Europe’s sixth largest airline.

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South African Air Force to Continue using Standby Aircraft for President Zuma

The SA Air Force has stuck to its guns on the use of standby planes when President Jacob Zuma travels abroad.

"The SAAF will continue to act responsibly by providing a plan B with standby abroad, especially for time critical and very important missions," it said in a statement on Wednesday.

Defending its decision to charter two standby planes for Zuma's recent trip to the United States, the SAAF added: "[This will be done] to ensure the president's on time and [has] safe transportation to destinations."

Zuma attended a UN Security Council meeting two weeks ago. After this meeting, Zuma had to return to South Africa immediately for another "important commitment", SAAF said.

According to weekend media reports, a SAA Boeing A340-200 shadowed Zuma's Boeing business jet Inkwazi as far as Las Palmas, Canary Islands, on Zuma's outbound leg to New York.
Inkwazi: South African Presidential jet
A second aircraft, a chartered Bombardier Global Express, was on standby in New York and followed the presidential jet back to South Africa at the conclusion of Zuma’s visit.

SAAF said its mandate was to ensure an efficient and safe flight service to the president and his deputy, to avoid any possible embarrassment to the country.

"Departure and arrival times for the entire mission were critically important and standby aircraft in South Africa simply would not have sufficed, taken into consideration the reaction time required over the long distance in this case, over-flight clearance etc."

There were fears the aircraft could have "unforeseen technical difficulties", it said.

The Inkwazi had been in Switzerland for several months for a major service. Upon its return to South Africa, it was used extensively for training flights to ensure all possible "snags" were fixed.

"Any slightest possible glitch had to be avoided and thus a plan B was put in place, albeit the standby aircraft."

The incident riled opposition parties and raised questions about the costs of such arrangements.

On Wednesday, the SAAF said "fresh" crew were made available to take over in a bid to avoid pilot fatigue.

"The aircraft does not have a special rest area facility on board for standby crew and thus could not be accommodated on board," it said.

"A standby crew in South Africa would not have sufficed, due to critical time constraints and reaction time."

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Why the Airlines are Bankrupt (INFOGRAPHIC) has put up an awesome Infographic on why airlines charge high fees for their services and at the end of the year, make very large losses. Yet another reason to invest your money elsewhere, but at least in Africa, aviation is booming, so some airlines in this region will continue making marginal profits.

A throw back to the years before 1978, American aviation was highly regulated including fares, schedules and routes. The only American airline that could fly international was PanAm and airlines then had to compete purely on services. With the deregulation came in new players and competitors and many airlines soon went under or filed for bankruptcy.

Airlines are also losing cash, lots of it, through Online Travel Agencies like Priceline, Orbitz, Expedia, Opodo. American Airlines alone paid 4% of their operating expenses to OTAs or an estimated $976million in 2010. Learn more on why your favorite airline filed for bankruptcy below:


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South African President Zuma travels with two "shadow jets"

The issue of travel by Presidents in Africa is always a source of hot debate. Many will not fly commercial(even if their national carriers fly to the destinations of state visit. Is a first class cabin "too low" for an African President?) and prefer commandeering national airlines, many buy business jets for their travel while some use charter services, all three options on the sweat and toil and of taxpayers.

Recently, South African President  flew to the United States with two back-up aircraft used to "shadow" the President's Boeing Business Jet ("Inkwazi"). The two back-up aircraft were used as backup in case mechanical failures were experienced by the presidential jet. The South African authorities are also busy shopping for additional business jets for use by the President and his VP.

The Inkwazi: South African Presidential Jet. Are more business jets necessary for South African leaders?
The government justifies this expense as a consequence of South Africa's increasing international obligations and stature in the world. According to South African Airforce Lieutenant General Carlo Gagiano,  the requirements(for international travel) had changed vastly since 1994 when the SAAF had only operated two aircraft for VIP transport to a limited number of international engagements. He pointed out that South Africa had considerably more international obligations as far afield as Australia and the United States. Being able to get leaders to high-profile engagements on time was a matter of national prestige.

The question now becomes, should President Zuma be making all these international trips? What's the value add to the South African economy and society? Could a foreign Minister not undertake some of these roles? It's question South Africans will have to ask their government, especially if domestic economic and social conditions are not moving in congruence with South Africa's new "international standing".

Perhaps, it's time to adopt fiscal responsibility and move away from the vestiges of the past...perhaps borrow a lesson  from David Cameron, leader of much more developed and richer country with even bigger international obligations, who traveled to South Africa on a scheduled commercial flight during his state visit.

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Charter Service for Governments? Modest Growth in the VIP Charter Services

Swiss charter services provider Comlux sees a modestly growing charter  services of widebody passenger jets as more governments turn from owning aircraft in the face of increased scrutiny of their spending. While not all Presidents can afford to travel like the President of the United States, a good number still have habit of commandeering aircraft of national flag carriers or purchasing presidential jets, a waste that's no longer justifiable especially in the poorer countries.

Comlux is an important Airbus operator for the high end clientele. The company buys aircraft and refits the aircraft interior to suit chartering needs and its targeted clientele includes heads of state, royals families and high networth individuals.

According to Comlux President, "We see this as a niche market, which could probably expand as governments move away from being able to justify owning aircraft,"

"This is very much a type of aircraft for a certain market. When people ask how expensive it is to charter, I say it is cheaper than two [737-based] BBJs."

Comlux launched its Middle East operations in Bahrain two years ago with a VIP-configured Airbus A318 airliner on display.

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Emissions Trading System: Europe Isolated

The EU has been further isolated from the world by last month’s ruling to include aviation in the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) according to Airlines for America (A4A). “This further isolates the EU from the rest of the world and will keep in place a unilateral scheme that is counterproductive to concerted global action on aviation and climate change,” A4A said in an initial reaction.

A4A said the CJEU “did not fully address legal issues raised and has established a damaging and questionable precedent by ruling that the European Union can ignore the Chicago Convention and other longstanding international provisions that have enabled governments around the world to work cooperatively to make flying safer and more secure, and to reduce aviation’s environmental footprint.”
Hot Issue: The Emissions Trading System(ETS)
 A4A, together with two of its members—United Continental and American Airlines—initiated the legal challenge to the EU’s inclusion of aviation in its ETS in 2009 and said it will review its options to pursue in the English High Court.

IATA said it was disappointed at the CJEU’s ruling to uphold EU plans to include international aviation in its ETS from 2012 and noted the decision represents a “European legal interpretation of EU ETS.”
“The CJEU decision may reflect European confidence in European plans. But that confidence is by no means shared by the outside world where opposition is growing,” IATA’s DG and CEO Tony Tyler said.

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ICAO Chief Pledges a Global Emissions Proposal by end of 2012

As airlines come to terms with the implementation of the EU Emissions Trading System, the ICAO Secretary General Raymond Benjamin pledged last week to have a proposal on how to regulate airline emissions on a global basis by the end of this year.

Speaking at the International Aviation Club in Washington, Mr Benjamin said that in the same way as airline safety is a global program, so the industry’s environmental program is also a global issue. “While there are clear differences among member states, we still have to come to a global solution,” he said.

ICAO Secretary General Raymond Benjamin
 Raymond declined to give details on what the emissions proposal might contain. But he said it would use the ICAO resolution that was agreed in 2010 as a framework and it would be put on the table by the end of the year. “You have my word on that”

With specific regard to the controversial EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) that went into effect Jan. 1, Benjamin said he preferred not to resort to using Article 84 of the Chicago Convention to resolve the dispute between the European Commission and those who are against the EC’s unilateral imposition of an emissions tax. Article 84 gives the ICAO council the authority to decide on disputes that cannot be settled between member states and was ultimately used to settle the hushkit dispute between the US and Europe.
Article 84 would not progress the issue and would deviate resources, Benjamin said.  “I am very happy that I don’t have Article 84 [legal proceedings] right now because that means we can keep working on the issue,” Benjamin said. But he added, “I am sure the legal file is ready.”

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South Africa's Velvet Sky Airlines Grounded due to Financial Problems

There is a rumour milling about that South Africa's LCC Velvet Sky has been hit by a severe cash crisis and there's a possibility that airline might shut down soon due to failure in paying outstanding debts. The airline is said to have run into heavy debts with aviation service providers in South Africa including SwissPort.

Several flights were delayed indefinitely by the airline on Friday and irate passengers were kept on the wait throughout the day. The airline grounded its fleet after failing to pay fees to South African Technical (SAT), a 100%-owned subsidiary of South African Airways (SAA), and is used to repair and maintain the fleet of SAA, Comair (Kulula and British Airways South Africa), Kulula airline, KLM and Air France) amongst others.
Chairman of Velvet Sky, Cecil Reddy, following the launch of Velvet Sky Airlines flights in March  last year
Last week, the airline ditched flights to the Polokwane International Airport with the intention of cancelling its controversial agreement with the Gateway Airport Authority Limited (GAAL). According to the airline spin, the flights were cancelled for "ethical" reasons following a preferential treatment afforded Velvet Sky by the Limpopo authorities exempting the airline from paying Passenger Service Charges. The airline apparently cancelled the flights to protect its "brand image".

Flights to Polokwane wee launched only three months ago and the abrupt cancellation was the first signal to observers that the airline was facing financial difficulties.

According to a source, shortly after Velvet’s landing, its deal with GAAL, the state authority charged with overseeing the management of Limpopo’s airports, became embroiled in controversy. In October, GAAL had offered Velvet preferential concessions that would exempt the airliner from paying certain airport charges. The concessions were understood to be necessary in order to make the route economically viable for Velvet Sky while bringing increasing tourism and business traffic to the Limpopo province, something that was encouraged by Limpopo government officials, keen on giving the province's economy a shot in the arm.

However, SA Airlink - previously the only airliner to run scheduled flights into Polokwane – was not offered the same privileges and the concessions, bringing the legality of the deal between GAAL and Velvet Sky  under question. Citing concerns over its agreement with GAAL, Velvet Sky has now unceremoniously left the building, vacating its offices and pulling its staff from the airport over the weekend.

Travelers to the Limpopo province can once again brace themselves for high fares as SA Airlink regains its monopoly on the route. I might be wrong but Velvet Sky is an airline which will soon drop off the skies.

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Air Nigeria to acquire four aircraft for $280m

 Air Nigeria is to spend $280 million on the acquisition of four aircraft as part of move to expand its routes to Europe, America and other African countries this year.

Its Managing Director, Mr Kinfe Kahssaye, who made this known to reporters in Lagos, said each aircraft will cost $70 million.

According to Kahssaye, the airline hopes to introduce two A330-200 and two B737 NG/e-jets to raise its fleet to 15 from 11 aircraft.

The additional aircraft will be deployed in some of its long haul routes, such as the United Kingdom, Johannesburg, Dubai, Middle East, West and Central African countries, which it hopes to begin in the first quarter of this year while some of the routes would be completed in the next three to five years.

Kahssaye said local routes, such as Benin, Calabar and Uyo will be introduced in its domestic operations this year, adding that with the co-operation of the government, indigenous airlines will make progress.

He said: “The year has been good not only for Air Nigeria, but for other domestic airlines. Last year, none of the airlines had a serious incident unlike in the past. We should give kudos to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) that properly monitored the sector and ensured that the right things were done.

“Within the year under review, we entered into strategic alliance-code share with Delta Airlines and several interline agreements were signed. Before the turn-around, the airline had only five aircraft in its fleet, but today, we can conveniently boast of 11 aircraft in our fleet. Without operations in 2011, we can now say we are on the path of profitable growth.

“Where we want to go from here is to reposition the airline to be the leading player in West Africa, build competitive and strong global network based on the Lagos hub. Also, we want to build a maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility and further build a competitive workforce.”

He maintained that before the turn-around embarked upon by Dr. Jimoh Ibrahim in 2010, the airline between 2005 and 2009 had a huge loss of $370 million, but with the injection of funds by the new management, the airline was now on the path of profitability.

Also, the management would embark on the construction of maintenance hangar from 2013, but declined to comment on where the hangar would be sited by the management.

He, however, emphasised that aviation business globally is not profitable as research carried out over the last 40 years revealed that profit among the airlines under the period was 1.1 per cent, but called for support from the Federal Government to the indigenous airlines.

In a bid for the Nigerian airlines to effectively compete with its counterparts, Kahssaye has called for waivers on aircraft imported spare parts and aircraft acquisition by the indigenous airline.
Kahssaye lamented that the huge Customs duties paid on imported spare parts and acquisition or lease of aircraft is having its toll on the airlines, saying Nigeria is the only country in the world where indigenous airlines pay Customs and import duties on spare parts and aircraft acquired or leased.

He also itemised lack of long term financing for investments, lack of training and high aviation fuel rate as part of the challenges facing indigenous airlines in the country. He decried that aviation fuel alone took about 50 per cent of the airlines’ operating cost in 2011.

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South African Aviation: Emirates Expanding Capacity to Durban

Although most foreign airlines are so far declining to fly to Durban’s King Shaka International Airport, preferring to take Durban-bound passengers to Johannesburg from where they transfer to local flights, Emirates is boosting its capacity on the route “in response to strong demand”.

The Dubai-based airline announced yesterday that it would substitute a larger, 354-seat Boeing 777-Extended Range aircraft for the Airbus A330-200 it has been using on the route, increasing capacity by almost 30 percent.

So far the only other international airline flying into Durban is Air Mauritius, although British Airways (BA) has regularly investigated the market. BA/Comair suggested extending its BA franchise for southern Africa to serve the route last year, but was advised against it after BA carried out a feasibility study.

However, Jean-luc Grillet, Emirates senior vice-president for commercial operations in Africa, said yesterday that it had carried more than 165 000 passengers between Durban and its home airport of Dubai since October 2009, with average passenger loads of 83 percent. It has also carried more than 5 240 tons of high value export cargo on the route.

“We have experienced positive growth which we attribute to a growing recognition of this city as a popular tourist destination and one of the key trading hubs in South Africa,” Grillet said.

Emirates was the first airline from the Persian Gulf to fly into South Africa. After starting a daily service from Johannesburg in 1995, it expanded to Cape Town, from where it flies twice a day. It is also expanding throughout Africa, currently serving 20 passenger and cargo destinations on the continent.

Dubai has been developed as a hub airport serving destinations worldwide including Europe, North and South America and the Far East. It opened the first branch of Emirates Holidays outside Dubai in Johannesburg last year, enabling passengers and tour operators to book flights and accommodation to any of its destinations.

SAA views its expansion as a threat. SAA chief executive Siza Mzimela said in Parliament last year that the number of Emirates flights to South Africa meant that it was taking business from point-to-point airlines bringing passengers directly to this country. 

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Kenya Police Air Wing first African customer of Eurocopter’s AS350B3e

The Kenya Police Air Wing has become the first African customer to receive Eurocopter’s AS350B3e Ecureuil helicopter, which features an uprated power plant for better overall performance aimed at expanding the force's airborne law enforcement and crime prevention unit.

The aircraft is dedicated to police law enforcement and crime prevention missions including anti-poaching, anti-terrorism operations. It will also be deployed in search & rescue, casualty evacuation, personnel transport and various other civic protection roles.
EuroCopter's AS350B3e
The Kenya Police Air-Wing is the first African customer for the AS350 B3e, which features an uprated Turbomeca Arriel 2D turbine engine allowing better takeoff performance.

Range and payload was a primary consideration in selecting the AS350 B3e as the Air-Wing required a helicopter capable of patrolling both the dense built up area around the major cities, Nairobi and Mombasa, but also to cover smaller towns and communities spread over large areas. Kenya has a land area of 580 000 square kilometres and a population of nearly 39 million residents. It has a diverse geography including a long Indian Ocean coastline. Inland, the terrain varies from savannah grasslands to forests, mountains and even dessert regions.

The AS350 has also been ordered by law enforcement agencies in Angola, Namibia, Botswana and South Africa. Some 5 000 Ecureuil helicopters have been delivered in 98 countries for some 1 600 operators. These aircraft have cumulated more than 21 million flight hours.

The AS350 was assembled by Eurocopter’s subsidiary Eurocopter Southern Africa at Grand Central airport, South Africa, and ferried to Kenya in early December. Eurocopter Southern Africa won the Kenyan order after a competitive tender.

Established in 1994, the subsidiary employs 80 people to generate an annual turnover of over R300 million through the sale of helicopters and the maintenance of approximately 250 in the region. Able to provide technical as well as pilot training, Eurocopter Southern Africa is currently deploying a full flight Super Puma simulator in Johannesburg to offer basic and advanced simulator training to its African customers’ base.

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Top Global Security Threats for the year 2012

With every new year there comes a renewed sense of optimism and hope for the business landscape. Will this be year that unemployment figures finally start to turn around? Will banks begin lending in greater numbers? Also with a new year, however, there comes a set of risks, both new and old, that could greatly impact corporate security.

Risk management services firm iJET recently released a forecast for the 2012 security landscape and as could be expected, economic instability at home and abroad tops the firm’s list of threats with the continuing European debt crisis and the development of movements such as Occupy Wall Street.

"We see these economic stresses continuing through 2012 to be the catalyst that’s going to generate continuing social unrest as people react to the loss of additional jobs," said iJET President Bruce McIndoe. "The other thing we see is the potential for is Occupy Wall Street and the possible splintering of those groups into more radical factions that may take more direct action and become more of a threat than we’ve seen out of the Occupy movement to date."

Among other threats forecasted by iJET that could threaten businesses globally include:
  • The continuation of last year’s Arab Spring movement leading to more uprisings and instability in Middle Eastern nations.
  •  New leadership in countries such as Iran, Egypt, China, and Mexico that could lead to increased tensions in those nations.
  • Increasing political discontent in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam following massive flooding in 2011.
  • A potential escalation of kidnappings and terrorist activities in several African and Middle Eastern regions including the Sahel region (Nigeria and the Sudan) and the Islamic Maghreb (Tunisia and Libya).
  • And, global health issues and ongoing food shortages that could lead to various humanitarian and disease crises.
McIndoe said he sees the current social unrest in the Middle East as "multi-generational issue" and that moving forward there will probably be cyclic social actions meaning that there will periods of calm followed by more discontent for years to come.

"We see a continuing ebb and flow of social unrest in many of these counties, even in those that haven’t seen that level (of discontent) to date," he explained.

The issue of piracy and the taking of ships and their crews for ransom is also expected to continue and could also spread to some other parts of the world.

"We have oil and gas developments being planned right now off the coast of Mozambique and when you start having more traffic and more assets, we see piracy moving further south from the Gulf of Aden," McIndoe added. "They are going to go where they see an opportunity to make money. They’re spreading further and wider looking for opportunity. The other issue is will there be a re-insurgency of piracy in other countries due to global economic issues?"

While this global set of threats may seem like a daunting challenge, McIndoe said that there are steps corporate security managers can take to mitigate their risks such as establishing an indicator system to help evaluate these threats.

"These issues are not going away anytime soon so businesses need to learn to manage these situations and how to manage through them," McIndoe explained. "They need to do that now so that it’s not in the heat of emotional interpretation, but will be more thoughtful indicators they can watch for and make more consistent decisions rather than just reacting."
 Article courtesy iJet
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Air Seychelles' Transformation - Butterfly or Moth

With the last European service of ‘HM’ now withdrawn, January 10th having been the watershed day for Air Seychelles, the downsizing, management would probably prefer the word ‘rightsizing’ of Air Seychelles continues.

Besides the domestic services to a number of islands, where operations continue as usual and without problems, the airline’s B 767-300’s are now largely under employed as only the services to Mauritius and Johannesburg continue to operate. It was in fact learned that two of the aircraft will commence final ‘return to lessor’ checks as required under the respective lease agreements, before they will be handed back to ILFC in the coming weeks. The remaining B 767-300 will continue to stay in service until later in the year a new B737-800 is due to be delivered to Air Seychelles, also by ILFC on a long term lease. The single aisle aircraft is expected to fly to Johannesburg and other destinations on the African mainland and across the Indian Ocean islands, though no final decisions appears to have been made as yet in this regard with various evaluations on the viability of new routes still ongoing.
Air Seychelles
Nearly 20 percent of all Air Seychelles’ staff are being made redundant, which will literally include all who were deployed in London, Paris, Milan and Rome joining their former workmates from Singapore. Ground personnel and administration staff too are said to be amongst those now having to leave the airline.

Independent airline analysts were however swift to point out that this can only be an intermediate step as any airline with eventually only one jet aircraft and a few turboprops on domestic routes would not be able to sustain over 700 employees, a challenge the company’s top management is still working on. More redundancies are likely to be announced in a more compassionate way, step by step rather than in one fell swoop, something apparently encouraged by the government which is also the sole shareholder in the national airline.

Notably has the airline also agreed with the Gulf carriers flying to the Seychelles, Emirates, Qatar Airways and Etihad, to hold another round of recruitment talks, aimed to offer those made redundant now the option to find new employment elsewhere. This exercise will take place at the airline’s training centre and run until Thursday inclusive.

Meanwhile are talks ongoing with Etihad, the national airline of Abu Dhabi and apparently Air Seychelles’ choice partner for an extensive range of code share agreements, which would be operated under dual flight numbers, to comprehensively cover the European markets but also destinations from across the global Etihad network.
The ultimate question for Air Seychelles now is what will come of this massive transformation when it is finally complete – will a shining bright and beautiful new butterfly emerge from it or will it be a dull and ugly moth?

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Air Austral Schedule and Destination Changes

A source from Mauritius has passed information overnight that Air Austral, the ‘home’ airline of the French Indian Ocean territory of Réunion, is set to make some significant changes to their schedules and destinations, following the return of a B777-200 to the lessor recently. The airline will end flights to both Sydney / Australia and Bangkok / Thailand from the upcoming summer schedule but add flights between Paris and the Seychelles, enroute to La Reunion with full traffic rights between the islands. Special offers for the Paris to Seychelles route are already being advertised at the fare of Euro 698 and according to information at hand, confirmed by a source from the Seychelles, this operation will commence on 27th March every Tuesday and Friday.

Air Austral
Air Austral also appears set to increase their present twice a week flights from La Reunion to Lyon / France to three at the same time. Talks between the ‘Vanilla Island’ airlines have intensified following the radical downsizing of Air Seychelles and all three carriers, Air Austral, Air Mauritius and Air Seychelles are in talks to identify areas of cooperation which could lead to cost savings. 


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Air Mauritius to Fly Non Stop to Shanghai

It was confirmed overnight from a source in Port Louis / Mauritius that national carrier Air Mauritius, come end March this year, will begin a nonstop service to Shanghai, cutting out the present stopover in Kuala Lumpur.

When the news of the inaugural flight were brought here, it was at the time already mentioned that the airline was actively exploring new and emerging markets, for both tourism and trade and the shift from an onward connection via Malaysia to a nonstop service will undoubtedly enhance the quality of the flight and attract added business.

Air Mauritius
The connection, presently once a week every Monday out of Mauritius, will also be of interest to the airline’s African continental destinations like Cape Town, Johannesburg or Nairobi, offering added options to reach China and tap into that fast emerging travel an
d trade market.

Unlike in neighbouring Seychelles, where the national airline was all but gutted and has today operated its last flight out of Europe, Mauritius has been fiercely protective of the national airline and restricted air access by other airlines on the principle of reciprocity or else limiting the number of flights, inspite of loud objections by hotel and resort operators who want more flights by more airlines to fill their beds. Time will tell who will prevail here, so watch this space.

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Mauritius Airport Authority Seeks to Acquire Land for Expansion

The Airports of Mauritius company is reportedly engaged in negotiations with nearby residents to acquire their land, needed to optimize security and operational safety. From information received from the island over 20 families have received offers of compensation to give up their land and resettle somewhere else, as the expansion and modernization of the country’s main airport, Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolan International, goes ahead. Offers based on market value of the properties were formally made by the end of last year and feedback is expected to be in by mid January. Ongoing construction work has apparently prompted complaints from nearby residents, making it more urgent that resettlement and voluntary acquisition of land parcels needed is concluded with all haste.

SRIA was in a survey last year declared as Africa’s best airport but is clearly aiming to retain that accolade and improve facilities further to welcome a million and more visitors expected to visit Mauritius in 2012. Final arrival details and statistics from Mauritius are expected in due course for 2011 and will be published here as and when received. 


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Jomo Kenyatta International Airport Runway Repairs Delays Flights

The stark reality of past failures to look and plan ahead in good time has once again come home to roost for the Kenya Airports Authority and all the airlines operating from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport last night, when due to urgent repairs and maintenance of runway and taxiway lighting, a significant number of flights were delayed. The aviation fraternity has for long demanded that East Africa’s most important airport requires a second runway so that traffic can continue to arrive and depart in case of an incident on one runway.
Jomo Kenyatta International Airport
A regular aviation source from Nairobi said: ‘They told us in advance to reschedule flights during the closure. It seems wiring needed replacement or had to be maintained but with a second runway we would not have had a total closure of Nairobi. We have been telling that to KAA for years but their top ranks just prance about trying to be important. They should be relevant – if they had had the competence to understand issues, we would have a second runway by now and the expansion of the airport would have been finished a year ago. Government should stop putting politicians into such places and employ professionals’.

It was confirmed that a NOTAM, aka notice to airmen, had been issued in advance allowing airlines both inbound and outbound to delay arrivals and departures, though at a cost of annoying passengers and having some of them miss their connecting flights and needing rebooking by their airlines to reach their final destinations.

KAA has announced that a second runway would be constructed but the completion of this crucial piece of new infrastructure may well still take several years. Watch this space for regular updates from the Eastern African aviation scene. 

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Stelios and Lonrho Group take over Fly540

 You gotta love Wolfgang Thome's coverage of East African aviation boardroom intrigues :)  ::

It was learned over the weekend that a new ownership has emerged at Fly 540 Aviation, when Lonrho with their new partners Sir Stelios compelled the other existing shareholders to sell – in the face of whatever evidence they were confronted with – taking full control of East Africa’s first LCC.

Previous Co-CEO Don Smith predictably had to leave Fly 540, and it is understood that no tears were shed by anyone over this, while Neill Steffen, the other Co-CEO and previously more engaged in other Fly 540 operations in other parts of Africa, will return full time to Nairobi to take charge of the airline.
Only a week ago were news broken on the WolfganghThome blog of these developments being imminent, bringing forth the wrath of those exposed a shade too early for their own clandestine taste, but with this latest confirmation now at hand, it is once again clear that the story broken then was entirely correct and that the anger of those now departed has departed with it.

It was confirmed that Don Smith will be moving over to East African Safari Air Express, a company ostensibly taken over by Fly 540, in retrospect not the case as it was taken over by one individual. EASAX is now awaiting a Kenya Civil Aviation Authority licensing hearing to learn about the fate of their application for an air service license, something which will probably meet with objections from other airlines but that will be another story to be told right here when the time comes.

Another piece of information which emerged from the weekend information flow was that what was thought to have been Fly 540’s own maintenance facility at Wilson Airport was apparently also owned by the now former CEO Don Smith, which if correct would be a clear sign of longer term intent, to be ready when the day would inevitably come that the other shareholders, those with the money that is, could no longer to be duped and would come knocking at the door with strong men in attendance, figuratively speaking of course. Whether, as has been rumoured, that MRO has charged Fly 540 over the top for maintenance, cannot be confirmed but a forensic audit could possible shed some light on this piece of the equation, should the new bosses at Fly 540 wish to pursue the matter further.

The new owners seem set to roll out an ambitious fleet development programme to turn their vision finally into reality, no longer held back by internal elements with their own hidden agenda, and will in coming months turn into what is expected to be a purely jet airline, operating regional flights and the city pairs to Kisumu, Malindi and Mombasa. Watch this space as the Fly 540 saga enters a new phase with new owners, refreshed management and the deep pockets to make things happen. 

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First Korean Tourist Charter Flight Arrives in Kenya

The first Korean tourist charter flight operated by Korean Air arrived at te Jomo Kenyatta International Airport  last night carrying 120 tourists into the country; an estimated 190 Korean tourists are expected to arrive in the country next week in the next charter flight.

The inaugural charter flight is the culmination of marketing efforts of the Kenyan Tourism Board and the Kenyan Embassy in Korea. Kenyan Tourism authorities are busy creating new tourist markets in the Far East to reinforce traditional tourism markets in Europe and North America. This diversification program in tourism marketing has seen the country witness increased charter flights from new and emerging tourist markets.

The tourist board is currently marketing the country aggressively in Asia. The Kenyan tourist circuits has for decades been dominated by Western tourists but the Board is realizing new opportunities in Asian markets in the Far East. In Korea the board forged partnerships with Korean Travel Agency Kal Tour and Korean Air. The board also hosted 8 journalists from Korea in the various tourist destinations in Kenya and also took them on a tour with various Tour Operators.

More charter flights have been coming into the country in the last few months, a sign that Kenya is getting its groove back. In addition, airlines that had long ditched the Nairobi Route like Finnair, Gulf Air and Alitalia and reintroducing scheduled flights or chartered flights into the country.

Kenya  has been receiving 6000 visitors from Korea since 2006 but the Kenyan Tourist Board is planning to double this through its marketing programs in Korea.

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African Airlines Association Opposes European Emissions Trading System(ETS)

As predicted by former IATA chief Giovanni Bisignani, it seems Europe's stubborn, unilateral inclusion of foreign airlines into its Emissions Trading System will fail eventually or worse still, spark a trade war. The EU ETS naturally creates a trade imbalance as other countries are not imposing carbon taxes on EU airlines. AFRAA has now joined the EU and China to oppose the the EU ETS, perhaps this crisis can force governments to work harder on the ICAO process to come up with harmonized global framework that does not leave people behind. Europe's unilateral move will however draw significant push back from world powers and at the end, it's the passengers who will pay the highest price. If the airlines' lobbying will not get the EU and other governments to behave, then they will simply pass on the costs to travelers.

Under EU Emissions Trading System,  EU and foreign airlines will purchase carbon credits in the EU to offset their greenhouse emissions in the region. Initially covering power stations, combustion plants, oil refineries and iron and steel works, as well as factories making cement, glass, lime, bricks, ceramics, pulp, paper and board. Aviation was later included.
Although several key African airlines have complied with the EU Emission Trading Scheme, and at a very substantial cost, the African Airlines Association (AFRAA) has now taken up the matter once again with a public statement issued from the association’s office in Nairobi, opposing the launch of it and demanding wider consultations between the European Union and affected countries around the world.

This happened after Chinese airlines have vowed not to comply and American airlines have taken the matter to court, paving the way for a potentially crippling trade war between the EU on one side and America and Far Eastern countries on the other side of the divide, with independent analysts and observers estimating that the damage to Europe’s trading position in the world could take a serious hit.

The uncompromising stand by the EU Commission, now also hiding behind a ruling by the European Court, that they have the right to impose such unilateral schemes, had also not helped as the wisdom of the move continues to be challenged from around the world.

There is, in particular, emerging talk of "punishing" the EU as a trade block by increasing trade between the opponents of the scheme and, in particular, sidelining European attempts to get rich mineral and mining concessions in Africa by giving access to such resources to North American and Asian competitors.

Said a regular source from Nairobi a few days ago: "… so, of course, we have to comply, because otherwise we can risk huge fines or even have an aircraft detained. But we support the initiative of AFRAA and have for a while said the EU should engage in further talks and not slap the rest of the world with unilateral taxes."
At the same time, the EU’s aviation black list has also come under fire and scrutiny again, as, in particular, African airlines have been banned from the EU’s air space. Here, the same source said; "… but, of course, we are aware of safety issues in countries like Sudan or Congo, which have the worst record in Africa, if not the world. But then look at Russia, they had lots of crashes, too, and there is no blanket ban for them like we Africans are suffering. But then Russia has muscle, has influence, has oil and gas, and the EU will not dare treat them in such an openly contemptuous manner as they treat us.

"As aviators, we all agree with the need to improve safe operations, adhere to maintenance requirements and train crews in line with international ICAO standards, but we often feel the EU has a hidden agenda and no amount of denials has changed that, in fact, some of their denials read like a confirmation of our suspicions."

Additional information from eTurbo News
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Cameroon's Camair-Co: An example for defunct African Airlines

Cameroon's national carrier(version 3) Cameroon Airlines Corporation, Camair-Co, is just 10 months old and the carrier has already built up a West African route network, particularly in the Francophone countries of West Africa and as expected, flights to Paris have also been launched.

Cameroon's National Airline Camair-Co
 Camair-Co has already managed to cover a wide swath of Central Africa, from Dakar to inland N'djamena and Bangui. Lagos is virtually the only Anglophone city served. Nearby Libreville and Malabo are also linked to Yaounde and Douala; a multi-day shuttle service runs between these two principal cities. There are also a handful of domestic routes. A wide body service to Paris-CDG has also commenced.

A colourful Camair-Co banner asking Cameroonians to fly national airline
 The airline was revived with help of Lufthansa Consulting after a presidential decree by the country's long serving leader Paul Biya. Senegal too relaunched its national airline last year after a rallying effort by the nation's leaders. Lome based ASKY Airlines, a division of Ethiopian Airlines, has already established itself as a major West African carrier, serving various Anglophone and Francophone cities.

Camair-Co Cabin Crew and CEO Alex van Elk
Nigeria is currently grappling with the question on the launch of a new national airline. Many African flag carriers went under in the 1990s and West and Central Africa were particularly hard hit; perhaps Camair Co, ASKY Airlines and  Senegal Airlines can serve as case studies for African countries planning to relaunch long defunct carriers. Maybe West Africa will no longer be the graveyard of airlines :)

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African Airlines Association Launches Joint Fuel Purchase Project

The African Airlines Association (AFRAA) launched a joint fuel purchase programme for nine (9) of its member airlines on Wednesday 11 January 2012 following the conclusion of evaluation of tender bids received from a number of fuel companies. The process which began last year with the setting up of an AFRAA Joint Fuel Steering Committee chaired by Eng. Chris Oanda of Kenya Airways and with Mr. Yemane Fitwi of Ethiopian Airlines as his deputy, sent out tenders to Jet A1 fuel suppliers serving various airports worldwide.
Received bids were analyzed by a technical team comprised of participating airlines and the AFRAA Secretariat and two rounds of negotiations held with all suppliers in a process described by the Chairman as “transparent and above board.”

Launching the Joint Fuel Purchase programme, the Group Finance Director of Kenya Airways, Mr. Alex Mbugua noted that the total volume of fuel to be procured by the 9 airlines across their networks through this joint initiative will be approximately 700 million litres valued at around US$1.5 billion. He said this initial phase of the project involves only 9 of AFRAA’s 32 member airlines and is confident that subsequent tenders will involve more airlines and more volumes.

Though the negotiations were done jointly, contracting will be done by individual airlines with the successful fuel companies at the various locations. The contracts implementation dates will vary, with some airlines starting to purchase fuel under the negotiated terms in February 2012, according to the Chairman. All contracts will however end in December 2012 and replaced by new contracts for a full calendar year in 2013 (and subsequent years) following another bidding, evaluation, negotiation and awarding process to be carried out during the course of this year.

The airlines participating in the current Joint Fuel Purchase Project are: Air Malawi, Air Namibia, Air Seychelles, Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways, LAM Mozambique Airlines, Precision Air, Rwandair and TAAG Angola Airlines.

The Secretary General of AFRAA, Dr. Elijah Chingosho applauded the role played by the CEOs of the participating airlines in the success of this project. He said, “The joint fuel purchase project was endorsed at the highest level in each airline by the CEOs who individually signed a joint MoU and Letters of Commitment to work together.” The Committee’s operations are guided by a legal framework and anchored on the principles of transparency, fairness and quality service delivery, according to the Secretary General.

The Project is aimed at attaining better and stable unit price of fuel for the participating airlines, assuring quality of the product and supply reliability whilst the relevant fuel suppliers will benefit from higher fuel volumes purchased by airlines. Other areas of focus by the Committee include addressing the incidents of high taxes, charges and fees levied on fuel, especially in African airports and lobbying stakeholders for the elimination of monopoly fuel suppliers at some airports. Though it was not disclosed what savings airlines expect to make under this project, all participating airlines are confident of significant savings making the project very worthwhile. This marks a turning point in the Association’s quest to add value to its members.

Cost of fuel remains a major component of the operating expense of every airline, accounting for between 40-50% of total direct operating costs. In addition to the cost, the unpredictable nature of fuel price makes it difficult for airlines to budget the cost of their operations. 

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Jobs: Qatar Airways Female Cabin Crew Recruitment in Nairobi

Explore a whole new world of opportunities with Qatar Airways
Qatar Airways, winner of the SkyTrax award for the Best Cabin Crew in the Middle East, for seven consecutive years invites you to be a part of its success story.

 Qatar Airways Recruitment: Female Cabin Crew
To be part of this winning team, you need to meet the following requirements:
  • Minimum age of 21 years
  • Minimum reach of 212cms on tip toes.
  • Minimum high school education with fluency in written and spoken English required

Take advantage of this exciting opportunity and be part of one of the one of the fastest growing five star airline.
To apply, please post your CV in English (date of birth has to be mentioned) along with full length and passport size photograph to the following address:
Qatar Airways
Barclays Plaza
P.O. Box 49771-00100
Nairobi, Kenya

Your application should reach Qatar Airways no later than 25th January 2012.
The above position will be based in Doha, State of Qatar.
For further information, please visit

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Nigerian National Airline: In whose Interest?

Nigerian Newspaper This Day Live examines the clamour for the establishment of a new National Airline:

Chinedu Eze examines the debate for and against the establishment of national carrier, the gains and its effect on existing domestic airlines.

The debate has been rife and involved those who vociferously wanted to have a national carrier and those who don’t wish to have it.

There are numerous gains for a country as large as Nigeria with the most viable air transport market in West Africa and second largest in Africa, after South Africa, to have its own airline and is identified as the country’s airline with all the accoutrements of government support.

The defunct Nigeria Airways
 One, it will be the face of Nigeria outside the country, just like South Africa Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Air France, British Airways, Lufthansa of Germany, KLM of Netherlands, Egypt Air, Air Maroc of Morocco, Turkish Airline and many others. 

A national carrier will help Nigeria to have better negotiation of Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA), it will help develop a major Nigerian airport, like the Murtala Muhammed International Airport as a hub; it will also broaden the image of Nigeria in the comity of nations.

By its sheer size and its prolific air transport market, the CEO of Ethiopian Airlines, Tewolde Gebremariam, told THISDAY recently in Addis Ababa that Nigeria needs two national carriers because of its large travelling public and Nigerians arguably remain the most travelled people in Africa in search of business.

Last week, the special assistant (media) to the Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Oduah, Joe Obi, told THISDAY that in spite of criticisms about floating a new national carrier in some quarters, majority of Nigerians are really clamouring for it because of its strategic importance in air transport.

But he said that government does not intend to put any money into the project; rather, the Aviation Ministry would come up with a template and criteria on how the national airline would be floated.

The template, he said, would include a framework on ownership structure, but emphasized that it would wholly be private sector driven, but government must have equity investment or stakeholding for the airline to be a national carrier.

“We want to have a national carrier. It is desirable and Nigerians are clamouring for it. Ministry will come up with the template, the criteria for establishing the airline with framework on ownership structure.”

Princes Stella Oduah was quoted to have said, "We’re working on a national carrier that will be publicly owned with limited financial contribution by the government. Government will act as a regulator and provide an enabling environment for this objective to be achieved.”

CEO of Belujane Konsult and former public affairs manager of the defunct Nigeria Airways Limited (NAL), Chris Aligbe looked at the gains of having a national carrier and said that first, Nigeria has to understand the concept on national carrier; that it must deviate from what a national carrier, like NAL used to be.

“It must be run as a private sector concern where government for emergency and grandfather rights reasons must be a stakeholder, but does not own more than 10 per cent equity so that the airline can be called to provide emergency services whenever possible and so that it will also enjoy government protection.”

Aligbe said that it must be private sector driven, but an international airline of repute must hold equity as core investor. This core investor and partner must nurse the airline until it becomes strong and would then be handed to Nigerians to manage; even at that, the core investor airline must retain certain stakeholding.

He gave example with Kenya Airways and KLM, the Dutch airline, which is a core investor of the East Africa national carrier.

“Government must not be involved in the running of the airline and the core investor must be an airline that does not operate in Nigeria presently, like Cathay Pacific Airways and Australian Qantas. There must be legal, regulatory and administrative framework, which will clearly define the mandate of the investors.”

Aligbe said that Nigeria really needs two national carriers that can compete with European airlines that have dominated Nigeria’s airspace, noting that with dominant national carriers capital flights of the nation’s resources would reduce and the threat of making Accra West African hub would be a thing of the past because if the Nigerian airlines take over the high percentage of passengers on international routes, European carrier’s threat of developing a another hub   from Lagos in West Africa would be impossible.

“Nigeria needs two national carriers which can compete with European airlines. This will reduce capital flight and the two airlines will rebuild the manpower needs of the country, which has depleted since the demise of NAL that trained majority of aviation personnel in the country today. Yu will be shocked if you know the number of expatriate personnel in the aviation industry today, especially in the technical area.”

Industry observer and former president of Nigeria Cabin Crew Association, Fidel Olu Ohunayo, in reaction to the report that government would establish a national carrier this year queried, “Is this coming on the heels of absence of Nigerian airlines in the aviation sector , or is it to recover the sold assets of Nigeria Airways or reinstate its workers who one way or another are already professionally engaged, including serving some of the 13/15 Nigerian flag carriers who strongly needed government support and understanding on every factor of operation, ranging from finance to fuel, to manpower, etc?”

He also warned, “We must be wary of any future attempt to favor the new national airline to the detriment of the existing flag carriers similar to the discriminatory treatment doled out by government to the defunct Virgin Nigeria Airways which threw the airline into early crisis that made its principal promoter, Richard Branson to eventually divest his interest.”

Also,  seasoned industry expert and senior official of one of the aviation parastatals spoke to THISDAY on Monday and wanted to know what format of national carrier government wants to establish.

“If you call it a national carrier it means that it is owned by government partly or wholly. If government wants to have interest it will not conform with the global trend and the global trend is that government is divesting from business and allow private investors to operate because they know how to run business better.”

The source observed that there are some countries that have successfully managed a national carrier, like Singapore but noted that the environment is different, emphasizing that a country’s environment and culture determines whether a national carrier could be run successfully or not.

In Nigeria, the source was not so optimistic. “Can government run business successfully in Nigeria? I am yet to see a business that government is running very well in this country. But probably the reason why government may want to have a national carrier is to maximize the benefit from the aviation sector, but can’t this be achieved with the privately owned airlines?

“Most Nigerian airlines are right now going through financial stress, so government should look at a way of boosting capacity of the existing carriers. Probably government believes that if it established a national carrier it will be calling the shots, but this is dicey because government may not be able to sustain a national carrier.”

Right now the owners of existing flag carriers in Nigeria under the aegis of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) seem to oppose the establishment of national carrier because from hindsight such establishment would threaten their existence. Past experience show that while the national carrier takes government attention and patronage, it largely does not have the capacity to provide all the needed air services in Nigeria; yet, the national carrier usually threaten to eclipse the private operators.

The source said that the fears of the airline owners are real.

“If you look back, their fear may  be unjustified. If you look at the time of Nigeria Airways, the airline could not maximize the potential that was on ground then and yet would not allow a private operator to explore the opportunities it could not maximise. Once an airline is called a national carrier it now begins to exert so much control and influence over the government and they would be seen as the only carrier and all other carriers would not be adequately protected and adequately catered for.”

On the issue of BASA, the source said the national carrier would claim ownership of BASA and would want to operate so many international routes which it may not have the capacity to operate, but would not be willing to allow the other operators to take over.

The source observed that all over the world the reason why airlines are kicking against the idea of national carrier was because the nation’s money is used to prop up an airline, which enjoys such unlimited patronage and at the same time it is competing with other local airlines that do have the financial trappings and protection in the same market. So that privately owned commercial airlines, which may have higher capacity are put at disadvantage.

“Also a government subsidized carrier can lower its fares and have undue advantage against the other airlines it is competing with. And this is what the airline owners are kicking against; unless government has a way of assuring other operators who are investing their money, that they would be protected.”

CEO of Sabre Network Incorporated, West Africa, Gabriel Gbenga Olowu, said that Nigeria presently has10- 13 flag carriers, including  Air Nigeria, Arik, Aero, Chachangi, Dana, IRS,KABO, etc. that are not government owned but established through private investors, noting that it is a commendable development.

Olowu however remarked, “Our airlines are weak in competition, highly indebted and needed sound and genuine government support for continued survival.”

He said that Nigerian airlines need financial bailout through debt forgiveness, observing that low cost intervention funds by government to service debts is not the way forward because such funds cannot address fuel needs ,fleet renewal ,insurance and other basic items.

“Cases abound world over where governments rose up to bail out its critical businesses among which aviation is paramount. Sept 11 and global economic meltdown US remedies remain very fresh. Our airlines need economic bail out. Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) which yields negative balance of trade must be reversed. Our airlines must cooperate for competitive advantage. Since it is unAfrican to merge , economic regulation should make this happen. Given 3-5 years ultimatum, airline with less than 50 airworthy aircraft in its fleet ceases to operate.”

Olowu said that this would force the airline coalesce  into 4-5 mega operators with obvious synergies of doing so, adding that Nigerian airlines must invest in modern aviation technology for distribution, engineering, revenue, crewing ,etc and depart from rule of the thumb approach of the past.

“One man one airline syndrome will lead an operator to disaster,” he emphasized.

Ohunayo queried, “Why is a national carrier needed? To absorb employees of failed major carriers by providing employment and assuages nerves of restive unions or to act as a means of providing additional fleet, capacity, and frequency in support of other registered carriers or to fill a vacuum and avert the monopolistic tendencies of surviving airlines.”

He argued that the first scenario has been overtaken by events while second and third are the crux of the present agitation for another national carrier, considering the present set of flag carriers have not done anything to reflect national ownership like their counterpart in the banking industry which naturally muster public support and protection.

“Also they are floundering with suffocating debts, with the international routes and frequencies that should be money spinners apparently controlled by foreign airlines. We also lack undiluted low cost carriers, adequate regional jets or props services, finance and a regulated consolidation regime that will bolster the critical mass of our carriers and improve passenger enplanement to the benefit of all stakeholders in general and the economy in particular.”

Ohunayo reasoned that “if we must have a national carrier, then we should ponder over the cost, risk and lessons from other climes, also we should dust the report of the International Finance Company that was contacted to work out modalities of a new carrier in the early days of the present democratic setting.”

But an enlightened Nigerian is stung with envy when he sees national carriers of European and African airlines come to feast on our passengers daily and consolidating their profits from the Nigerian passengers. It is really natural to feel that if Nigeria has a national airline it would benefit enormously from the growing Nigeria air travel market.

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Top Hotels near Africa's busiest Airports

An airport hotel is typically not a traveler’s final destination, which is why you don’t hear too much talk about which ones are great and which ones to avoid. Most travelers only stay at airport hotels because their flights were canceled or delayed, or they have a layover. However, sometimes even more important than an efficient airport and a comfy airplane ride is a good night’s rest before a long day of travel.

Listed below are the top five busiest airports in Africa and the best airport hotel accommodations available near each of them.

The Protea Hotel Transit O.R. Tambo Airport
O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa: The Protea Hotel Transit O.R. Tambo Airport is located inside the international terminal at the airport, so it exclusively for guests in international transit. Top ratings have been given to this chic, 87-room hotel. Although it is a bit pricey, the convenience of already being in the airport is second to none. If will be traveling within South Africa or are looking for something a little further away from the airport, consider the Premier Hotel O.R. Tambo Airport. Located just one kilometer away from the airport, this luxurious hotel is business-friendly and features an on-site spa where you can fully unwind before your next day’s flight.

International Transit Hotels: The Protea Transit Hotel
The Novotel Cairo Airport
Cairo International Airport in Cairo, Egypt: The Novotel Cairo Airport is located just 0.87 kilometers away from the airport. This environmentally-friendly hotel offers great deals on room rates. Although the rooms are demure, the two swimming pools feature beautifully-designed tile work. Other hotel amenities include restaurants, a tennis court, a nightclub and a business center.

SUNRISE Island Garden Resort.
Sharm el-Sheikh International Airport in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt: You really can’t go wrong in Sharm el-Sheikh, since almost every hotel or resort in this tourist town is both located near the airport and the beach. However, if you do need to stay an extra night in town due to a flight cancelation or delay and want a hotel that is still nice yet a little cheaper, look no further than the SUNRISE Island Garden Resort. Only 1.72 kilometers away from the airport, this resort offers a great rate for such an amazing place. Although it is not located on the beach, you will still be impressed by the resort’s three restaurants, a spa and three outdoor pools.

The Road Lodge Airport Cape Town
Cape Town International Airport in Cape Town, South Africa: The Road Lodge Airport Cape Town is located just adjacent to the airport’s entrance. This comfortable, sunny hotel is budget-friendly and offers free breakfast every morning.

Sol Y Mar Ivory Suits
Hurghada International Airport in Hurghada, Egypt: Sol Y Mar Ivory Suites is a lovely beachfront property that is situated just 1.83 kilometers away from the airport. For an amazing price, you get free breakfast and access to the on-site pool, restaurant and bar.

May your flight cancellations, delays and layovers be more comfy and relaxing! Courtney Henderson is writer and editor for Airport Management Degrees. In her spare time, she likes to write guest articles for various websites on various topics of interest.

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