AIR MADAGASCAR LEASES B777 TO CIRCUMVENT EU BLACKLISTING
Following the blacklisting over safety concerns by the European Union earlier this year, reported here when it happened, Air Madagascar has substituted a wetleased B767-300ER from Air Italy with a leased B 777-200ER from another European registered airline.
The airline operates three flights a week between Antananarivo and Paris and the route is a major income earner for the islands national airline with almost 120.000 passengers carried between the two countries last year. While initially absent from the route after the ban Air France picked up considerably more traffic on their own 4 times a week service and Air Madagascar had to claw their way back into the passenger good books. Confidence in the airline had diminished in Europe after the ban but returned gradually when a leased aircraft with European registration were brought on line.
Tourism is a potentially huge income earner for Madagascar but has suffered substantial downturn since the political upheavals brought a regime into power by a coup d etat and the country was subsequently suspended by the African Union and put under sanctions by Western countries. Happy Landings to the new bird, the crews and the passengers of Air Madagascar.
Archive for September 9th, 2011
AIR MADAGASCAR LEASES B777 TO CIRCUMVENT EU BLACKLISTING
AIR TANZANIA GETS NEW ACTING CEO
Paul Chizi has recently been appointed interim or acting CEO of ATCL by the Minister for Transport Hon. Omari Nundu, to take over at ATCL with immediate effect.
Paul was previously with Air Tanzania, which he joined in 1979 according to information from Dar es Salaam, before leaving in the airline 2002. He has since been with Community Airlines, which only existed for a short while before moving to Jetlink as their country manager.
He will have the daunting task of getting the ailing airline back into the air, now within reach as government has bailed out ATCL once again by paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for the maintenance of a Dash 8 aircraft, which in February had been flown to South Africa for major work to be carried out on it. In the nick of time, before the aircraft was reportedly put up for auction by the maintenance organization, did the government come through with funds, arguably drawn from other budget lines.
When this single plane returns to service, TCAA is currently evaluating the maintenance work with the ultimate objective of either awarding or not awarding a Certificate of Airworthiness, it will make Air Tanzania once more the runt of the litter of the present aviation industry, as it will have to compete against the well oiled machinery of Precision Air and others which have taken over ATCLs market share and are flying more frequencies to more destinations now than even Air Tanzania of old did not manage to do.
Sources close to ATCL have also off the record indicated that the airline may have to resort to wetleasing aircraft for the time being to offer a viable service level on key routes from Dar es Salaam to Kilimanjaro / Arusha, to Mwanza and to Zanzibar, before considering a wider network both domestically and regionally. Generally, without being recapitalized by government and finding finally a partner willing to take on the problem riddled carrier, ATCL is thought to have only a limited future and might never rise to its former level again.
ENTEBBES WEATHER RADAR NOT A PRIORITY
Members of the parliamentary committee on natural resources were shocked, as were aviation observers when the news filtered into the public domain this morning that Entebbe International Airport was lacking a functioning weather radar system. Considering how regular thunderstorms are in Uganda, along the departure and approach paths of aircraft taking off and landing, and what monster storms often brew out over Lake Victoria, the lack of such a system was called sad reality in Uganda aviation by a regular source from within the sector. Communications reach to a certain point out of Entebbe or Kajjansi but from some areas of the country Entebbe is hard to reach from the ground, and this is a violation of the regulations in fact. Something goes wrong the pilot will be blamed, CAA can never be at fault. Another source said that modern jet aircraft used by airlines flying into Uganda give the cockpit crews clear images in the cockpit of bad weather ahead, but conceded that otherwise local domestic aviation depends more on weather satellite pictures from the internet as no radar details are available from the Meteorological Department in Entebbe.
The cost for the required two systems was pegged at 8 million US Dollars, apparently long applied for and always rejected as a non priority item how much is aviation safety worth one wonders? The answer is probably found in the same offices which decided that passengers must get wet during rains before reaching the terminal building to check in as recently posted here in a different story about airport security, in Entebbe and in comparison the wider region. Watch this space!
CHANGE AT FLY 540 UGANDA
A public notice in the Daily Nation of Kenya and the Daily Monitor in Kampala has tipped off this correspondent and confirmed earlier rumours that Jackie Arkle, the soul and good spirit of Fly 540 in Uganda, has left the airline under unclear circumstances.
Jackie arrived in Uganda after two years at Fly 540s head office in Nairobi where she was responsible for sales and marketing and from where she put the airline visibly into the public domain. Upon her transfer to Uganda as country manager in January 2010 she was the one putting Fly 540 on the map in Uganda and inspite of regular operational issues kept travel agents and regular travelers on board through her charming personality and never giving up in promising improvements in on time performance. This was often aggravated by the use of aircraft other than the CRJ jet, such as the Dash 8 or even the B 1900 Beechcraft, leaving the marketing and sales staff hanging out to dry over such operational changes beyond their control.
It is understood that Air Uganda and Kenya Airways personnel are on a charm offensive in Kampala trying to exploit the situation which could result in a sharp reduction of load factors for Fly 540 on the route where they have to compete with Kenya Airways four flights a day and Air Ugandas three flights a day by offering only two flights a day on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday while on Monday, Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday they only operate one service a day. With competition in Kenya and the wider region getting quite cut throat, following Kenya Airways aggressive re-entry into the domestic market last year and their open option of forming their own LCC under Jambo Jet, competition has heated up in recent months and it will be survival for the financially fittest only, as the shoulder / mid season for Kenyas beach resorts is now approaching and loads across the jet network between Nairobi, Mombasa, Malindi and Kisumu reduce.
Jackie herself was tight lipped over the reasons for leaving the airline, reportedly on advice of her solicitors, indicating that this development will lead to a very likely court case, especially following the nasty of going public with an advert the way the airlines top executives chose to do.
Fly 540 is the first regional self professed LCC in East Africa and operates an extensive domestic network in Kenya, within and to Tanzania and to Uganda, while also serving regional routes in the wider region. The group has also established operations in Angola and is reportedly working on setting up other LCCs in West Africa, but with few details on progress made so far inspite of this being on the drawing board for some time now. Wherever Jackie goes, she will be an asset of great value and this correspondent for one is sad to see her leave Kampala and return to Kenya.
HIGH WAVES WARNING FOR BEACHES IN SOUTH OF MAURITIUS
Forecasts are predicting waves on the southern and western beaches of Mauritius to rise up to 4 metres high this weekend as a result of both strong winds and sea swells combining to bring about this unusual phenomenon outside an actual cyclone storm.
Beach resorts appear to have been told in good time to alert their guests of the high waves and while very experienced surfers may try to take advantage of the big ones, generally caution has been advised to guests intending to swim, snorkel or dive on the affected part of the island.