THE COST OF GETTING TO THE TOP
Details emerged over the weekend from Nairobi of the potential cost of Kenya Airways drive to become the number one airline of choice in Africa, connecting the continent via their Nairobi hub.
Only recently did The Pride of Africa sign a record breaking deal of 10 firm orders and 16 options with Brazilian manufacturer Embraer, which upon completed delivery, should all options as expected be turned into firm orders, will double the airlines current fleet. Also coming on line, as and when Boeing is able to delivery that is, will be at least 9 B787 aircraft on firm order, with a further 4 options, which will eventually replace the ageing 5 aircraft B767 fleet Kenya Airways has been flying already beyond its intended use and essentially allow KQ to add more long haul destinations such as flights to the US, India and the emerging tourism markets for Kenya in the Far and South East.
The cost however is mindboggling with figures ranging from 2+ billion US Dollars upwards over the coming years according to sources in Kenya. The forthcoming share rights issue by Kenya Airways is expected to create a core fund to finance this expansion but borrowing and retaining profits at the expense of higher dividends will be other avenues the airline will have to use to be able to pay for the ambitious expansion plans.
At the same time there is intensive lobbying going on to have government boost aviation infrastructure at the countrys main airport in Nairobi on the double, where a second runway is a pre-requisite to roll out the fleet expansion while more terminal space and parking spaces for aircraft too are required to handle the added passengers and aircraft movements. Delays by past KAA management are now coming home to roost as capacity constraints are not only hampering Kenya Airways growth plans but also prevent more airlines to fly to Nairobi while others would like to boost their number of flights.
Only days ago has KQ announced the start of flights to Jeddah and Beirut too is on the cards, just as soon as the next two Embraer E190 aircraft join the fleet in coming weeks to allow the re-deployment of B737NGs to the new longer distance routes. Watch this space.
Archive for September 19th, 2011
THE COST OF GETTING TO THE TOP
SHARK NETS INSTALLED ON ANSE LAZIO BEACH ON PRASLIN
Information was received from Mahe over the weekend that the anti shark campaign continues to be high on the countrys agenda following two unprecedented shark attacks some weeks ago.
While fishermen and coast guard are still searching for sharks in the pristine waters off the Seychelles inner islands, in particular around Praslin where the attacks took place, and have in fact landed several of the beasts since the hunt opened, more protective measures have been instituted by government hand in hand with the affected tourism industry. Boat patrols continue to guard the beaches off Praslin to ensure that predator fish are spotted early and destroyed.
It was learned that an anti shark net has been installed off the famous Anse Lazio beach on Praslin and is now only awaiting inspection by the Seychelles Maritime Safety Administration before swimming can be official allowed again in certain sections of the beach. Other beaches too will then see the installation of similar nets, aimed at keeping the predators away from the shallower waters near the beach where tourists like to swim and snorkel. Praslin, alongside Mahe the archipelagos largest island and home to the capital Victoria and La Digue are the most popular tourist islands and of crucial importance to the countrys tourism industry.
CONSERVATION AND HIGHWAY DONT MIX
Comments made over the weekend by Tanzanias Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda did not go down well with the conservation fraternity in Tanzania at all it appears, as comments and broadsides came flooding in to this correspondents mailboxes once again. The politician reportedly made his contradictory comments when visiting Musoma, where he reaffirmed the Tanzanian governments intention to tarmac new roads right to the boundary of the Serengeti National Park, from Mto Wa Mbu along Lake Natron on one side and linking Lake Victoria from both Mwanza and Musoma to the Serengeti from the other side of the park.
Such investments of course make no sense at all unless the crucial link across the national park is eventually established too, and with the expected traffic it is only a matter of time before the strictly gravel road will be upgraded to bitumen standards. Development partners from around the world have tried to persuade the Tanzanian government to seek a routing for the road around the Southern edge of the Serengeti / Ngorongoro ecosystem but just how deep that has registered within the Tanzanian establishment seem more and more uncertain now, especially as global mining giants insist that they will only invest in the region between Lake Victoria and the Serengeti if a highway links their areas of operation with the rest of the country.
The Tanzanian government is now caught in a web of lies and deception, trying to downplay their secret plans for the highway in the public arena while however comments made by politicians unable to control their utterances paint a clearer picture. Controversial tourism minister Maige earlier in the year wrote a soothing letter to UNESCOs World Heritage Committee, assuring them that no highway would be built across the park, which was in danger of being listed as a World Heritage Site under Threat, not something even the most stubborn politicians in Tanzania could have wanted when gearing up for the 50th anniversary of independence. This event was to be a trigger for the Tanzanian Tourist Board to roll out a fresh campaign to attract tourists to the country, but a wave of industrial and infrastructure projects has tainted the destinations image in the global arena, where conservation and environmental issues play ever bigger roles in tourists decisions where to go and spend their money. Maige gained notoriety soon after writing the letter to UNESCO when he publicly called them an inconsequential entity only to cause more controversy when downplaying the massive environmental risks of Uranium mining in the Selous Game Reserve, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
As President Kikwete departed over the weekend to New York to attend the UNs General Assembly and other meetings, he can be certain that these controversial statements by his Prime Minister will bring the Serengeti issue, and many other similarly controversial projects, on the agenda again of the green lobby once more and he will be faced with uncomfortable questions as to upholding the credo of the founding father of Tanzania, the late Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, for whom conservation was an unmovable cornerstone of his political vision for the country. Betrayed by his political offspring he must be turning in his grave surely. Watch this space.
KIGOMA AND TABORA TO BE ATCLS FIRST DESTINATIONS
The arrival of Air Tanzanias Bombardier Q 300 turboprop aircraft from South Africa over the weekend, where it had been undergoing heavy maintenance since February but was only released after the Tanzanian government bailed out the financially ailing airline, has prompted an announcement that by the end of September two destinations would be opened up again from Dar es Salaam. The airline said over the weekend that the aircraft would commence flights, all regulatory approvals in place by that time that is which is by no means certain yet, to Tabora and Kigoma. Never shy of making full mouthed statements it was also revealed that within three years Air Tanzania would once again dominate the domestic and regional market, a threat which left aviation observers frankly perplexed about their perception of reality.
Added information was also received that ATCL is apparently seeking to lease at least two CRJ 200 aircraft, sourced from within the region, to restore jet operations between such key routes as Dar es Salaam to Kilimanjaro / Arusha, Mwanza and Zanzibar. This, according to the airline, will then eventually be followed by a return to regional routes, where however the airlines of neighbouring countries like Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda now have the upper hand due to the long absence of ATCL from the routes to their capitals. Within Tanzania it is in particular Precision Air, due for an IPO soon unless government finds another excuse to stall this exercise as has been seen in the past which has taken over the marketshare previously held by Air Tanzania, by offering more destinations and a largely improved service delivery, while other domestic rivals like Fly540 have yet to make the big impact which was expected of them. Watch this space for emerging news from East Africas aviation sector.
MORE HABITUATED GORILLA GROUPS EASE PRESSURE FOR PERMITS
The Uganda Wildlife Authority has confirmed the coming on line of two newly habituated gorilla groups for tourism activities this November in Bwindi National Park. Both new gorilla families, named Oruzogo and Kahungye will be located in the Southern part of the park, bringing the total number of daily permits available in Uganda to 64, as the 8 groups available for tourism purposes can cater for a maximum of 8 tourists each per day.
This will take Uganda amongst the three East African gorilla countries of Rwanda, Congo DR and Uganda to the top in terms of daily permits, although it is understood that the presently 7 gorilla families habituated for tourism in Rwanda may also soon see another one or two groups added.
Uganda has reportedly also broken ranks with her neighbours over a previously agreed common fee for tracking gorillas which has strained relations in terms of cooperation on other issues according to a source from Kigali, after a downturn in demand for permits in Uganda, following political events earlier in the year, sent the sector into a rushed and panicky reaction according to the same source from Rwanda.
Take up of the added permits in Bwindi is expected to be high as gorilla tracking remains Ugandas best known tourism attraction, though plenty of more parks and adventure activities are on offer across the country. Visit www.visituganda.com or www.ugandawildlife.org for more information about the country and its national parks and other protected areas.