KQ STICKS TO ITS GUNS AS SOME HOTELIERS COMPLAIN ABOUT DOLLAR FARES
Rumbles from within the tourism industry are slowly emerging over Kenya Airways recent introduction of US Dollar based domestic fares, which however, as on breaking the news immediately said here, can be paid with the equivalent of Kenya Shillings at the exchange rate valid on the day of the transaction.
We need to be able to offer packages to the coast for instance at a fixed price in Kenya Shillings and clients do not like the uncertainty to be asked for extra money in case the shilling goes down against the dollar, and we also do not like to give the impression we are keeping clients money when the shilling goes up and they have paid a certain amount for their round trip to say Malindi or Mombasa. We were not asked for our opinion and yet a lot of clients fly to the coast because we sell them domestic packages. Maybe Kenya Airways could rethink this decision said a periodic source from Nairobi when asked for an opinion. Meanwhile though has a regular source from Embakasi, as usual on condition of anonymity, insisted it was the right thing to do under the circumstances: and our international fares have always been given in dollars and travelers had to use their shillings at the days exchange rate to pay, if they had not changed into dollars already. The domestic market is a difficult one and we last year and this year made phantastic offers for stand by tickets and for prebooked and prepaid fares. It is the circumstances, the cost of fuel which is in dollars, which made the airline reconsider. Depending on where the shilling goes, our passengers may have to put in less shillings so they can even benefit.
The emerging arguments however also show that the decision was not universally welcomed and other airlines flying on the main jet routes, like JetLink, have vowed to retain a shilling fare come what may, as they are trying to claw back market share through such means too. Watch this space.
Archive for November 3rd, 2011
KQ STICKS TO ITS GUNS AS SOME HOTELIERS COMPLAIN ABOUT DOLLAR FARES
SHILLLING DROPS AGAIN, CAUSES FEAR FOR CURRENCY VALUES ACROSS THE REGION
After a rally on the currency markets, induced by concerted central bank action last week, when the Tanzania shilling reached into the mid 1.600 hundred territory albeit briefly, has the slide and rot returned with a vengeance. Earlier in the week did the Tanzania Shilling fall back deep into the 1.800 range, though not to the previous record low of 1.853 against one US Dollar, after corporate clients took advantage of the release of US Dollars by the Tanzanian central bank to buy their requirements at nearly 200 Shillings less than just days earlier.
Fears emerged across the region that this trend set in Tanzania may be repeated across in Kenya and Uganda where the currencies also enjoyed an upward trend, and financial market analysts are watching with keen interest to see how this will play out after the Kenya and Uganda shillings too recorded improvements by about 10 percent, wild swings by any standards in any country around the world.
Tourists were bewildered though when changing money as witnessed yesterday as they had only days earlier received substantially better rates, in their favour that is, and at least one argument with a currency dealer was seen to unfold as the tourist thought he was being cheated out of his money. The joy of some clearly though is the bane of others as traders across the region are faced with impossible choices to make about importing goods ahead of the crucial Christmas season, the busiest time of the year for many of them, but with these currency fluctuations it is now anyones game to figure when to buy dollars and pay for shipments. One thing is clear though, the price for all of this is coming down on consumers who will find their Christmas shopping this year as expensive as it has ever been and tighter fists, when it comes to spending will be accompanied by tighter belts all round.
WILD CAT STRIKE BY AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL CONTINUES TO IMPACT ON FLIGHTS
The unauthorized slow go and wild cat strikes by members of the Kenyan air traffic control has led to a series of flight delays impacting on thousands of passengers. This country is at war with Al Shabab and air traffic control and surveillance is crucial to national safety and security. This is not the time to deny our country such services and endangering the country. Our airspaces must be monitored now at all times as our own airforce flies sorties into Somalia to hit Al Shabab bases and what the air traffic controllers do right now amounts to high treason in a situation of war a regular aviation source from Mombasa claimed in a communication yesterday, while confirming that tourist charter flights were also affected. He continued to say: We are now fighting the bad image of the abductions, of the threats by Al Shabab against our country and the tourism sector is working overtime to correct impressions that Kenya is not safe. And here is a group of greedy individuals, used by union officials with their own agenda, to start slow gos and wild cat strikes instead of having the safety and well being of our country at heart. Were they not told by court to halt any action and go back to negotiate? It is unpatriotic to the highest degree and if that is the picture our unions give, then they are really in need to be taken on by new legislation and regulations that they cannot bring our country to its knees, for sure not when we are at war.
Other industry stakeholders have also cautioned of the potential impact of a wider ATC strike, some recalling the consequences of strikes aimed against Kenya Airways, and according to a regular source in Nairobi this comes at a bad time. We are going to WTM now and with all the issues surrounding Kenya right now, the union is trying to deliver a killer blow to our sector. I think, and so to many of my colleagues, that our unions are out of control and need a dose of medicine which Margaret Thatcher gave to the British unions way back when those tried to turn the UK into a socialist welfare state. Enough is enough, parliament should get working on that to introduce limitations on strike action when it affects public safety and that the two sides, employers and unions be compelled to go into arbitration and forego strikes.
Kenya tourism is still headed for a record year of arrivals and revenues, inspite of such self inflicted woes and the external situation forced upon them by Al Shabab, and when the year closed you can sure find the results and statistics right here. Watch this space.
FORMER ENERGY MINISTER ACCUSES HIS TOP STAFF AND BUJAGALI PROMOTERS OF LYING
In another astonishing outburst has embattled Internal Affairs Minister Hillary Onek whose resignation parliament demanded over allegation of involvement in bribery told members of parliament that for all purposes did the Permanent Secretary in the Minister of Energy and Mineral Development mislead the public, as by prolongation then did the promoters of the Bujagali hydro electric plant, that the new facility will produce 250 MW of power when in his own assessment only 170 MW could be generated.
Onek during his reign at the Ministry of Energy enjoyed a contentious relationship with his top officials who often contradicted him in fact, and had repeated run ins with the top echelon of the Energy Regulatory Authority, which is a matter now pending before court.
Ugandans have been keenly waiting for Bujagali to come on line later this month and bring relief to constant load shedding, a phrase used for the induced black outs across much of the country due to lack of generating capacity. Oneks outburst, in which he also suggested that the President had been misled, caused consternation amongst onlookers it was reported and at least one MP in regular contact with this correspondent suggested in a late communication that Onek should have listened to what parliament told him, to step aside to make way for a full investigation on the bribery allegations, but now he really made things worse. He has a bone to pick with the Permanent Secretary in that ministry because he repeatedly told him off when he was in Energy, a well known fact, and now seeks cheap revenge. His reputation is now in more tatters than before.
Reactions are awaited over Oneks allegation on sharp increases in the cost of power from Bujagali and the limits on power generation in coming days, as the full impact of his gaffe becomes apparent. Watch this space.
ICAO TRAINS RWANDAS AVIATION PERSONNEL
Staff of the Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority but also from private airlines last week commenced a two week training course, organized by ICAO, to update information and bring personnel the latest news and skills they need in todays aviation world.
Earlier ICAO country audits had reportedly established deficits in some areas which were being progressively addressed through added training measures, in particular to strengthen regulatory oversight and improve the abilities of inspectors, streamline processes and adopt ICAOs latest recommendations and directives to ensure safe and secure airtransport.
Also participating is RwandAir with key staff which are understood to then pass on their course experience to fellow colleagues during in house training sessions.
The two week course was officially opened by the Minister of State for Transport Dr. Alexis Nzahabwanimana in the presence of the Director General of the Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority and the ICAO Regional Representative.
Aviation safety in Africa is a mixed bag with some countries have amongst the worlds worst accident records and in the process making look the entire continent bad, which prompted ICAO to concentrate on measures to bring average air accidents and incidents down to global average levels over the coming years, concentrating in particular on strengthening oversight and enforcement amongst regulatory bodies.