Negotiations over the early return of two leased B767-200 aircraft to the International Lease Finance Corporation were successfully concluded earlier in the week and the first of the two birds, Isle de Bijoutier flew out of Mahe International Airport today after the required final engineering checks had been successfully concluded and all data and records were loaded on board.
The recently installed new CEO of Air Seychelles, Bram Stellar, had as one of his first actions moved to off load these two older B767s to allow the airline go ahead with a fleet revision, due to the extraordinary long delays in obtaining their ordered B787s.
The second aircraft to be returned to ILFC, named Amirantes will leave the Seychelles some time next week, leaving HM three B767-300 to operate their scheduled flights to London, Paris, Milan, Rome, Singapore and Johannesburg.
It could not be established if the return of these two aircraft would be a trade in or if any penalties were incurred by Air Seychelles for the premature end of the leases which were to run until 2013 and 2014 respectively.
Archive for October 27th, 2011
AS KENYA GOES INTO SOMALIA, AFWERKI SNEAKS OFF TO KHARTOUM
No sooner had Kenya upped the ante in the Horn of Africa, by sending troops, navy and airforce units into Somalia to pursue the radial Islamist Al Shabab militias, a known Al Qaida affiliate organization, did Eritrean president Isaias Afwerki get into a plane to Khartoum, to spend three days holed up with ICC wanted regime leader Bashir. Few details emerged from the capital of Sudan other than that matters of mutual interest and bilateral issues were discussed and for a whole three days.
Afwerkis Eritrea, a country which has by all accounts been turned into a concentration camp for much of its own population, has played a murky role in the past in the conflict in Somalia and allegations have never stopped about overt and covert support for Somali militant groups. Along its own borders with neighbouring Ethiopia, a country committed to fighting extremism in Somalia and supporting the return of a fully functional federal government, Eritrea is in a cold war situation over border disputes since the guns fell silent, not recognizing the outcome of the UNs mediation panel but mindful of the saying a friend of my enemy is a friend of mine continuing to needle Ethiopia through their alleged Somali proxies and other groups Afwerki has long been rumoured to support against his perceived arch enemy.
Kenyas intervention in Somalia, long thought impossible, shuffled the cards afresh for the supporters of the militias, which are sworn to introduce a militant Islamic regime, with similar common political ground visible too in Eritrea and the Sudan. The militant stronghold of Kismayu is now in the cross hairs of the Kenyan military, and inspite of a brief spat by Somalias federal president, who denounced the illegal occupation, the rest of the government in Mogadishu was swift in reassuring the Kenyans that the hot pursuit of militants was still sanctioned and welcome, while their own troops were also advancing on Kismayu.
The pressure on the militias is now on, cutting their supply routes from the sea and on land as UAVs, aka drones, based in Ethiopia, are now a formidable source of intelligence as well as a capable strike force to take out targets as soon as they have been identified.
It is therefore thought that Afwerki and Bashir were strategizing, probably with other allies on site, how best to support their people THEIR meaning in a warped sense of loyalty the Islamic hardliners, terrorists and militias in Somalia, and avoid them being overrun and driven into the ocean at the expense of keeping a festering conflict alive which has provided a breeding and training ground for terrorists of all denominations.
This week will a crucial road link, funded by the government of Qatar, be officially opened between Sudan and Eritrea, which will make deliveries easier and facilitate the movement of equipment, supplies and even personnel, should as many fear the Somali conflict spill over into a wider regional battle for superiority, fought between Islamic hardline regimes and the more Western oriented TFG in Mogadishu and the African Union AMISOM mission supported by mainly Uganda and Burundi. Neighbouring Djibouti, an important strategic base for not just the global anti piracy coalition but also a springboard for an array of Western and Japanese military contingents, is considered a natural ally to those fighting to bring order back to Somalia, and while the breakaway regions of Puntland and Somaliland continue to unsuccessfully demand recognition as separate countries with the promise of stability and reliability, the international community has not given into such demands as their main aim is to bring peace and stability back to a united Somalia under one federal government, though not ruling out a more pronounced federal system of administration, aimed to placate the breakaway factions.
Political analysts are now trying to read the proverbial tea leaves and are hoping to put one and one together, drawing also from Khartoums recent belligerence against not just against the newly independent Republic of South Sudan but also the brutal military campaigns in Southern territories wishing to follow RoSS into independence like South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Abyei. There a referendum on this territorys future has been delayed and obstructed by Bashirs regime while unleashing ethnic cleansing on the region.
The scenario is now unfolding, pitching the TFG in Mogadishu, its protector force from Uganda and Burundi and now the Kenyan military against the militants and their godfathers, with Ethiopia and Djibouti as well as the Republic of South Sudan presently looking on with sympathy but not yet in an active state of participation, keenly watched by Eritrea and the regime in Khartoum. The latter two are under intense internal pressure too and conventional wisdom has it that given a potential internal revolt against Bashir and with Afwerki isolated in the region and facing an internal rebellion also, they might well externalize their problems in a foreign adventure, which could light up a fire across the entire region.
Time will tell how this plays out but all eyes are now turning to the newly emerging scenarios and potentially added interventions in this highly volatile part of the Horn of Africa.
HOTEL UNION USES MINISTER TO FORCE ITSELF UPON THE HOLIDAY INN IN DAR
It was learned yesterday that the Minister for Labour and Employment in the Tanzanian government has apparently become a willing tool to force recognition of a labour union on the management of the Holiday Inn Hotel in Dar es Salaam, when after a visit she literally ordered the local labour officer to pitch camp at the hotel, a thinly concealed attempt to force the management to give in to her demands.
Following allegations of mistreatment of staff, allegedly peddled by the union as a tool to force itself on the scene it is understood, the minister also demanded to get details of expatriate staff working at the hotel, another regular stick employed by politicians to threaten and intimidate foreign operators in a market still often considered as being stuck in the era of the command economy while singing the tune of private enterprise to lure investors.
The hotels management, according to a usually well informed source in Dar es Salaam, insists that a staff association does exist at the Holiday Inn and that interaction with management takes place at regular intervals but that the hotel workers union has been attempting to force itself upon the staff without success, suggesting that they had now resorted to use politicians to achieve their objectives.
Not exactly a confidence inspiring move by a member of the Tanzanian government, which is on other fronts busy trying to attract more foreign investment in the countrys tourism industry, as president Kikwete publicly stated when meeting with the Secretary General of the Commonwealth Business Council ahead of the Commonwealth Head of Government Summit in Australia.
Adds this correspondent in closing: Dont invite investors under false pretences and when they have spent their money turn them into punching bags for political expedience or wrongly understood loyalty to labour unions.
KAMPALAS GOLF COURSE UNDER THREAT BY DEVELOPERS
Alarming news spread through the golfing fraternity yesterday when developers a byword nowadays for greedy and often destructive assaults on green open spaces across the city, fenced off a portion of the Kitante Golf Club in the heart of the city. Owned by the Uganda Golf Union the course is one of the few remaining green lungs of the city, which over the past two decades have been decimated and often turned into unsightly assemblies of makeshift and ramshackle looking shops and restaurants mostly seen at the former Centenary Park or shopping malls like Garden City and Oasis, with the name garden a mere window dressing. Earlier in the week it was revealed by the media that another sports ground in Lugogo, equally under assault by developers in recent years, was being hived off, leaving sports fans in seething anger over broken promises by the Kampala City Council, which as usual feints ignorance and pleads innocence.
Members of the club have already mobilized, amongst them some of Ugandas most influential business people and politicians, to call for an extraordinary general meeting to establish the legal foundation under which the 12th hole of the 18 hole course is being fenced off, and the mood has turned ugly already with comments flying that members want heads to roll of those eventually found responsible for carving up our golf course.
Uganda has a checkered history as far as such cases are concerned, with other developers, allegedly conniving with officials, having their eyes set on the Nakivubo Stadium in the heart of Kampala as well as sports grounds around the country, as reported last year about similar moves in Soroti where attempts were eventually stopped to carve out land from the East African Aviation Academy as well as the towns golf course, where individuals conspired to grab land.
Said one avid golfer to this correspondent, after being reminded to let the law take its course: What law, the law is an ass but we shall expose those behind because some of our members have the means to get to the bottom of this atrocity and those responsible will be publicly named, shamed and shunned by us. Oooops comes to mind.
SEYCHELLES TO HOST ICTP LAUNCH AT WTM
The launch of the International Council of Tourism Partners when all signed up members will be revealed to the international media at the World Travel Market, is taking place on November 08th at the Seychelles stand AS550 at 16.00 hrs, hosted by the Seychelles Tourism Board.
Seychelles, a founder member, has been joined by such other unique destinations like Rwanda, expanding their marketing reach into new market places and achieving presence at tourism trade fairs and shows ITCP will in the future attend on their behalf but otherwise or previously not on the annual calendar of events member countries and organizations would have gone to.
Alain St. Ange, CEO of the Seychelles Tourist Board, made the announcement while in Bejing as part of President Michels official delegation for this latest working visit to China, an increasingly important market for the Seychelles and well connected to the archipelago by Emirates double daily flights, Qatar Airways daily flights and the upcoming four flights a week by Etihad.
ICTP is the brainchild of eTN publisher Thomas Steinmetz who chairs the International Council of Tourism Partners while Professor Geoffrey Lipman serves as the organizations president.
For those keen to join the global partnership, contact ICTPs representatives present at World Travel Market at the stand next to eTurboNews. More information is available via supporter. ICTP Quality Destinations Committed to Green Growth.
FERRY FLIGHT UNDERWAY FOR SECOND RWANDAIR B737-800
RwandAirs second new bird is now in the air enroute to its final destination Kigali, after a formal handover ceremony at Boeing in Seattle. As was the case with the first B737-800 a few weeks ago, RwandAirs chief pilot Capt. Babis is the pilot in command and will with his two colleagues in the cockpit fly the new plane from the Everett Field across North America to Icelands Keflavik airport for refueling before crossing the North Atlantic for the scheduled night stop in Istanbul.
The aircraft will then fly on to Kigali where she is due to arrive on Friday afternoon at 3 pm, performing a fly past over Kanombe International Airport before finally touching down in Rwanda.
The new addition to the WB fleet will bring the total number of aircraft to 7 and the support a further expansion of flight frequencies and destinations. Chief Executive John Mirenge is expected to announce on Friday the next destination for RwandAir, thought to be the West African city of Lagos / Nigeria, adding on to existing flights to Brazzaville and Libreville. Watch this space for updates on Friday, live from Kigali.