AFRICAN VOICES BLOG AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE
A blogathon has been organized for the period between October 24th and 31st to draw attention to the impact of climate change on the African continent. The Connect4Climate team is drawing in important bloggers and journalist with influence and deep reach from Africa to the rest of the world, to give our continent a voice and platform to present their views and facts on how climate change is already impacting on their own country and neighbourhood.
Topics for discussion and contributions are Agriculture, Energy, Forests, Gender, Health and Water with tourism and aviation notably absent, a sector ever present but often off peoples minds.
The Connect4Climate campaign can be followed on the main social media networks, i.e. Facebook via www.facebook.com/connect4climate or on the direct twitter feed from @connect4climate
Hash tags have been created already for twitter users and should be inserted into a tweet as follows: #avcc and #c4climate to trigger of a trending campaign which ultimately will provide greater visibility and make following via global web search engines easier too.
The campaign is amongst others sponsored and supported by the World Bank and the Global Environmental Facility GEF, and a full list of partners can be found via http://connect4climate.com/blog/african-bloggers-on-climate-change-week-october-24th-october-31
Adds this correspondent in closing: Participate and blog your heart out in support of anti climate change measures and activities.
Archive for October 19th, 2011
AFRICAN VOICES BLOG AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE
KENYA STEPS UP INTERNAL SECURITY MEASURES
Information from Nairobi and Mombasa seems to indicate that following the countrys decision to go after the Al Shabab militants inside Somalia, which followed a series of hit and run attacks and abductions by the terrorist organization, internal security was stepped up and companies have been alerted to take added safeguards to protect their customers and staff. Al Shabab has already threatened retaliation against Kenya, similar to what they had threatened Uganda with last year for playing a major role in combating this devils brood in Mogadishu, and the twin bombing during last years FIFA World Cup final in Kampala show that there is only sharply increased vigilance and stepped up surveillance and counterintelligence which can prevent a repeat of such unspeakable crimes.
Kenyan troops are deep inside Somalia at present, creating not only a buffer zone between the main militia strongholds and the border, but also to mop up resistance, and overnight reports talk of up to 75 militants killed, though there is no word on any captures which could aid intelligence gathering on locations and enemy strength and assets.
Kenyas so called invasion has meanwhile been sanctioned by the Transitional Federal Government in Mogadishu, an added political bonus for Nairobi inspite of the hot pursuit being already legal under the UN Charter, which permits any country the right of self defense when being attacked.
It is expected that the African Union mission based in Mogadishu will also sooner rather than later get marching orders to pursue the militants and open up a second front on them, which will divide Al Shababs resources and open them up for airstrikes when they are forced into the open and onto the move.
Restaurants, hotels and resorts across Kenya, but also public places and leading companies have all stepped up entrance security now and large gatherings are being carefully monitored by security organs to assure the wananchi that all possible is being done to protect the general public, now that the country is at war. Gods speed and blessings to the Kenyan troops now in combat inside Somalia.
African aviation news – Decommissioning of Soviet era aircraft in Russia prompts new fears of dumping
AFRICAN AVIATION OBSERVERS BRACE FOR MORE DUMPING
News from Russia that two major privately owned airlines, Ural Airlines and Kuban Airlines announced earlier in the week that they would phase out their ancient Soviet built aircraft will send shivers down the spines of regular observers of the African aviation scene. In the past Africa has been a dumping ground for in particular cargo planes of Antonov and Iljushin make, which were cheap to acquire but fuel guzzlers of the highest order and the proverbial bitch to maintain.
The many aviation accidents witnessed across the continent, in the Congo DR, the Sudan and elsewhere, Soviet era built aircraft regularly featured, taking hundreds of lives in the process over poor or absent maintenance and lack of prescribed crew training.
While the more foresighted aviation regulators have meanwhile joined the technologically advanced rest of the world in banning these flying monsters, several countries appear still willing to have these types of aircraft registered, giving them certificates of airworthiness and permitting airlines to use them. Subsequently, many of those aircraft now phased out in Russia, following a government directive after a few more fatal accidents, will not go on the scrap heap and be chopped up but likely be sold to African operators and airline owners who know full well what they are getting into, for profit considerations and little else, as if African lives count less than those in Russia. It remains to be seen if the latest wave of decommissioning Soviet era aircraft will once again see Africa become a dumping ground for derelict and very likely very dangerous flying machines often here described as flying coffins. Watch this space.
(RwandAirs second brand new B737-800 in the Boeing paint shop in Everett)
Following the completion of the assembly of RwandAirs new aircraft were a series of test flights performed to establish that all was well up in the skies, before returning the bird to the ground to get its distinct livery painted on. It is understood from a reliable source at the airlines headoffice at Kanombe International Airport in Kigali that a handover ceremony is planned now for the 26th of October before the aircraft will commence its journey home to Africa with an expected routing from Seattle via Icelands Keflavik airport to Istanbul, before making the final leg on the 28th of October to Kigali where a welcome party is planned. Remarkably RwandAir is only the third airline in East Africa in the more recent past which has found the means and courage for that matter to purchase brand new aircraft, after market leader Kenya Airways and their partner Precision Air in Tanzania, while all other jet operators, national or quasi national airlines use pre owned aircraft, many of them relatively aged, more expensive to operate due to older engine technology and less reliable due to greater maintenance requirements.
When the new bird arrives in Kigali RwandAir will be claiming the 4th spot in terms of operator size in the wider East African region, going by jet aircraft, a development which comes as no surprise considering the ambitions of Rwanda Incorporated to establish the land locked country as a major hub in Eastern Africa and to use RwandAir as a key tool to achieve connectivity. Happy landings to the new Boeing, its crews and all the passengers who will soon enjoy Boeings Sky Interior experience while on board.
AIRLINE EXPANSION AND GROWTH LIMITED BY POOR AIRPORT INFRASTRUCTURE
Major airlines in Europe and North America have for many years now watched new global players emerge, eating deep into the cake of market dominance previously shared by only those few which have survived globalization and either grew smartly through acquisitions or as often the case in the United States hiding behind the cover of Chapter 11 to weather the various storms of the last decades.
Angry periodic outbursts from airline CEOs speaking at international aviation forums, were swiftly countered by their counterparts from Gulf based airlines, which have enjoyed phenomenal success rates at a time when other airlines balance sheets were inked in deep red. Admittedly, most of these airlines are in government hands, benefitted from liberal open air policies, generous bilateral air services agreements signed long before this trend became public knowledge, substantially lower fuel costs in their home hubs and a broadly lower cost base compared to the rigidly structured and unionized European or American carriers. But there is more to their successes in capturing a significant share of the global traffic, not just through excellent service on the ground and in the air, their often sprawling luxurious Business and First Class lounges, than the eye of the uninformed one off observer may immediately see.
European airports, the brand new Berlin International Airport is a case in point, are often restricted in regard of night time operations, giving the airlines in the desert sand as a previous alliance chief put it to this correspondent during an interview, a competitive advantage they use to the fullest, with the cooler night hours being the busiest connection times all day. Well developed schedules bring passengers via Dubai or Doha into the respective hub for a single transit and then to their final destination without wasting much time. And it does not end with operating hours, airport capacity too is an issue and of growing importance in the fight for market domination.
Heathrow was told by its political masters that there will be no added runway and Frankfurts 4th runway, when eventually ready, will be subject to night time restrictions, something residents living near the airport will appreciate but which neither the airport company nor airlines flying or based there like Lufthansa really fancy very much as it eats into their revenue potential and prevents the optimal use of their fleet.
And so are the Gulf giants like Emirates, Qatar Airways and Etihad and a variety of others marching on, several of them getting new mega hub airports built which can facilitate larger fleets, process ever more passengers and siphon off more and more traffic from the traditional aviation powers of yesteryear. Connecting the world via Dubai, Doha or Abu Dhabi is reality today, as the most modern of aircraft can literally reach any point on the globe without a stop from the Gulf, unlike the old days when stops were needed for instance in Iceland to reach the New World.
Then the concept of hub and spoke developed, first in the United States and then copied in Europe and beyond and it had its place to connect millions upon millions of passengers to onward flights. But like the battle ships of old outlived their usefulness and the carrier groups of today will soon need all their might to defend themselves rather than being the offensive tools of yesterday, tomorrow belongs to the long Gulfs haul giants able to fly the most modern fleets and connect the world via their brand new super mega airports.
In Dubais Jebel Ali region a new such giant airport has already opened and will eventually have 6 runways, terminal space for up to 150 million passengers a year and a high speed train to the city itself, and there are constant rumours that the present Dubai International Airport will eventually become a sole base for Emirates, something which in good time will either be confirmed or discounted.
In Doha, Qatar Airways, the worlds 5Star Airline, expects their equally fast growing fleet to operate from a brand new super airport just a few klicks away from the present international airport by mid of next year and across the Arabian Peninsula are airports being upgraded, enlarged or built afresh to provide the infrastructure these mega carriers require.
This can only mean that faced with infrastructure constraints and legally imposed operating caps on their own airports back home, the European and American airlines will see aviation developments move yet further and faster away from them with few options left to hold against the trend.
But there are other expanding airlines on my mind, maybe not on the scale of the Gulf giants but nevertheless significant for Africa. Nairobis Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is seen as the single biggest constraint for faster growth by Kenya Airways and until a second runway has been constructed and significantly larger terminals been opened all efforts by The Pride of Africa will be in semi-vain as JKIA is way beyond its operational capacity already. The single runway, when closed by an incident, has repeatedly forced airlines to divert or delay flights when the runway was blocked and other operational mishaps by KCAA, like successive power outages this year and last year, have also had the same effect. Kenya Airways will over the coming decade double if not triple its fleet and while small compared with the Gulf trio is nevertheless one of Africas leading airlines and a vital link for East Africa to the world. Yet, their contribution to the national economy was long overlooked if not ignored and the Kenya Airport Authority is clearly at fault over failing to cater for their national airlines growth plans by having new facilities and structures ready now instead of in a few years time.
In neighbouring Rwanda the government, aware of the importance of aviation for a land locked country, is busy finalizing the planning for the new Bugesera International Airport as RwandAirs present hub, Kanombe International, while closer to the city, will in a few years no longer be able to accommodate the national airlines growing fleet of aircraft and flight movements. RwandAir, presently awaiting delivery of their 7th aircraft, is due to double that number in 5 years time and plans to nearly triple it by 2020, flying to a number of intercontinental destinations at that time which need a longer runway, more terminal spaces and a fully fledged air cargo centre.
Similar circumstances apply to Turkish Airlines, another airline with a phenomenal growth factor in recent years and connecting East Africa via Istanbul to their global network. With some 175 aircraft and flying nearly 30 million passengers a year, Turkish will need a new airport soon, considering the additional aircraft on order already and the new destinations the airline has announced for coming years, but the congested Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul will remain THYs hub for at least another 5 years, as a site for a new airport has not even been chosen yet nor has any detailed planning began in earnest. Like in Nairobi with KQ, THY has the same growing problem of congestion, which impacts on the travel experience of passengers who have plenty of airlines to choose from when leaving from Africa for overseas and, courtesy of advertising and PR campaigns, and the easy access to web based information, know what transit should be like as opposed to what it is like and many choose accordingly and switch loyalty once having a single negative experience.
And herein lies the crux of the matter: Countries with good planning and foresight have expanded and modernized their aviation hubs to cater for present and future expansion by their national airlines, giving them space to grow into and facilitate it. That will give those carriers a competitive advantage, capture passenger and cargo traffic and leave others trailing in their wake, as they face congested airports, lack of landing slots and overcrowded terminals.
Finally in closing and to make matters rather worse for European and American airlines, aviation has become the punching bag for many Western governments which slapped them with eco taxes left right and centre, while allowing the playing fields to be tilted by restrictions on operating hours and a range of restrictive regulatory demands. These extra added cost for carriers in Europe and America without getting much back from their governments, combined with the outlined other factors, put the proverbial smiles on the face of Gulf airline executives and as I a while ago said in a related article here, they are right to tell their envious competitors to pull up or shut up and your guess is as good as mine which way that challenge will go and who will take the spoils in the battle of the skies.
TIME FRAME FOR KENYA AIRWAYS CARGO OPERATIONS CONFIRMED
The Kenyan national airline has now given a clear indication that their recently leased B747-400F will arrive over the next two weeks in Nairobi and then be immediately available for cargo operations. The aircraft has been wetleased as presently no Kenya Airways pilots hold qualifications for this type of aircraft.
Two B737-400F will then join the fleet in early 2012 to complete the lineup of aircraft which will see Kenya Airways cargo division take off in earnest. The smaller B737s will feed and de-feed palletized cargo to airports where the use of the larger B747 is not viable and where Kenya Airways wide body fleet does not fly to, mainly to the nearer and more distant regional airports where cargo demand nevertheless exists for exports and imports but not in quantities to make it interesting for international air cargo haulers.
Nairobi has become Africas most in demand air cargo centre and a number of international cargo airlines, including Martinair of Holland, Lufthansa Cargo from Germany and of late even British Airways Cargo are flying almost scheduled services, often combined with Johannesburg, to deliver perishable goods to the consumer markets of Europe and carry urgent deliveries south bound. Emirates Cargo too is a regular visitor to Nairobi, a sign of confidence in the air cargo market on which much of Africa depends in the absence of reliable road or rail delivery. Watch this space.