RWANDAIR ANNOUNCES LAGOS FLIGHTS FOR 03RD DECEMBER
The Rwandan national airline has just announced that they will, as previously mentioned here, commence flights to Lagos / Nigeria as of 03rd December this year. Departure and arrival times of the flight have been tuned to allow easy connections to onward flights to Dubai via Mombasa, Nairobi and Entebbe, from where passengers can now reach Lagos by alternative means.
The flights, to be operated by RwandAirs new B737-800 Sky Interior aircraft, will initially fly the route three times a week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Departure time from Kigali is at 11.00 hrs local time and the flight arrives at 14.10 local time in Nigeria, while the return flight leaves Lagos at 14.55 local time and is due to land in Kigali at 20.05 hours local time.
Meanwhile was it also announced that Rwandair operated a special charter from Kigali to Asmara / Eritrea carrying the Rwandan national football team and staff for the FIFA 2014 World Cup qualifier against Eritrea.
RwandAir is also due to make an announcement soon on their next stage of rolling out their strategic plan, when announcing details on the likely acquisition of larger Bombardier jets in a trade off for their current two CRJ200 aircraft. Be sure to watch this space for breaking news from East Africas aviation scene.
Archive for November 14th, 2011
RWANDAIR ANNOUNCES LAGOS FLIGHTS FOR 03RD DECEMBER
In a report just in from a Twitter source, attempting to travel to Mombasa on a Jetlink flight originating from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, it was confirmed that the take off was aborted as smoke filled the cabin. The CRJ200 jet was set to take off for the 50 minutes flight to the Kenyan coast when cabin crew and passengers suddenly found smoke emerging into the cabin, and the cockpit crew brought the plane to a stop at runway exit E, allowing the flight attendants to evacuate the cabin through the main fold down staircase.
(Both pictures courtesy of Edward Kagoce via pic.twitter.com)
Notably were no emergency exits opened at the time from the plane, according to a tweetpic sent out by one of the travelers connected to this correspondent via Twitter. The same source also confirmed that the emergency services vehicles only reached the plane after 20 minutes, a damning indictment for KAA, which over the weekend went wild demolishing houses but appears to have abdicated its primary duty in this case of a potential fire hazard on the taxiway. (see related story published overnight via this link: http://www.eturbonews.com/26350/brutal-demolitions-mark-start-land-occupation-kenya-airport-auth )
Watch this space for breaking news from the Eastern African region and the Indian Ocean islands.
As the long march for the new Republic of South Sudan continues into Independence, the young country has made another milestone step when it finally was accepted as the 191st member of ICAO. The International Civil Aviation Organization admitted South Sudan last week on the 10th of November, paving the way for a range of support measures ICAO can give to new countries which have to build an entire new structure aviation supervision and create a new regulatory regime. The ICAO Regional Office for Eastern and Southern Africa will next week send a fact finding mission to Juba to establish areas of most urgent need and to jointly devise a programme and timeframe for the implementation of ICAOs technical requirements and harmonization to fast track South Sudan to become a compliant member, upholding the principles of aviation safety and effective oversight.
From regular sources in Juba it is also understood that efforts are now underway to enter into negotiations with other countries for bilateral air services agreements, to reflect the aspiration of the new country on the basis of reciprocity and to replace existing BASAs inherited from the regime in Khartoum, which in the past dictated access to South Sudans territory while still a semi autonomous region prior to Independence. Amongst the key areas of investment and infrastructural development is the completion of the countrys main airport in Juba, where presently only daylight operations are possible due to the absence of runway lighting systems, and where the limited space can no longer cope with the sharp increase in aircraft movements and passenger numbers. ICAO and other international bodies will seek to assist the new government to establish a viable and well regulated sector. Notably, the government in Juba seems also set to establish a new national airline, which will operate side by side with a number of privately owned airlines, already operating for some years or else just recently established, and some aviation stakeholders have voiced their concern of routes being given with priority to a new national airline, pushing them either out of business or else limiting their own growth. Watch this space.
DREAMLINER SET TO MAKE A VISIT TO THE EAST AFRICAN SKIES
Information was received from usually reliable sources that the Boeing B787 Dreamliner will make a maiden visit to East Africa, with planned stops at Nairobis Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and to Addis Ababa too, amongst other countries to be visited.
Kenya Airways has 9 B787 on order, with a further 4 options, a package thought to be substantially increased in coming years as the airline continues to roll out its strategic growth plan, while Ethiopian Airlines will be the first African airline to take delivery of the B787 after years of delays at a date still to be finally confirmed, as delays on production continue to hamper delivery time frames.
Having the B787 appear in Kenyas skies will be a milestone for Kenya Airways, which intends to replace its ageing B767 fleet with these state of the art new aircraft, the most economical in its class to fly and operate. No date has been set as yet, or rather no date had yet been announced but it is thought this will take place before the end of this year and provide a good marketing and PR opportunity as KQs new share issue will go underway. Kenya Airways management and staff, shareholders and prospective shareholders and the general public including many aviation buffs will be cramming the perimeter of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on the day when the new B787 Dreamliner will make its first ever appearance over Nairobi. Watch this space for relevant announcements.
BALALA DECRIES SLOW PACE OF REGIONAL TOURISM INTEGRATION
Kenyas tourism ministry Najib Balala, at the end of the World Travel Market in London last Thursday, decried the slow pace of regional integration of the tourism industry, which in his words was hampering the sector capturing more tourists, generating more investment, creating more jobs and earning the entire region more foreign exchange.
Balala had in the past sent sharp reminders to his colleagues in the region over the delays in agreeing on a single tourist Visa for the East African Community and made an urgent appeal towards that end again during a joint EAC press conference given at the stand of Burundi, marking the end of WTM 2011.
Balalas sentiments are shared by many private sector stakeholders in Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda, with Tanzania notably keeping the foot on the brake over long lingering fears of Kenyas dominance of the sector, in the process keeping the Bologonja border post between the Serengeti and the Masai Mara closed for commercial traffic and hiding behind a mega wall of non tariff barriers mostly affecting air traffic into the parks and access to the parks by foreign registered vehicles, a phrase often used to bash Kenya.
Balalas opinions though are now hugely strengthened by his recent election as Chairman of the UN World Tourism Organizations Executive Committeed, which gives him added clout, besides being entirely right of course on facts, to pile added pressure on his colleagues in the region to make good of a decade of promises and create this hitherto elusive One region with many attractions from which all can benefit equitably and equally. Watch this space to find out as and when the common Visa is being launched and if there are any reductions in the NTBs imposed on in particular the aviation sector.
BRUTAL DEMOLITIONS MARK START OF LAND OCCUPATION BY KAA
Kenyans will be waking up on Monday morning, shocked to read about another act of government brutality and open defiance of ongoing court proceedings, as hundreds of expensive homes were raided and destroyed over the weekend notably done when courts were not in session to obtain emergency orders on land claimed by the Kenya Airport Authority yet also claimed by the owners of the residences.
Protected by a large contingent of well armed police, the bulldozers, reportedly on instruction of the KAA management, moved into position before dawn and the pounced on unsuspecting owners, bringing down one expensive home after the other.
The area member of parliament, kept at bay by uniformed and plain clothed police, vowed to go to court first thing on Monday to stop the exercise, underscoring the residents claim that the land in question was not part of KAAs land, was outside Nairobi in a different county and had a general title issued with individual title deeds under processing, while a source acquainted with the workings of the Kenya Airport Authority said that the land was only claimed by KAA but the legality of the claim highly doubtful.
Ongoing court proceedings over the same issue were ignored by the demolition crews and the security forces and they reportedly tried to destroy as much as they could over the weekend, probably anticipating a court order being served on them to halt the exercise.
The damages are running into the hundreds of millions of shillings already, and while the owners and their families spent a miserable night in the cold, counting their losses of property and assets, the KAA management will probably now get into a fight for their own life as the full extent of their folly becomes apparent. They will try to hide behind an apparent cabinet decision which according to another source sanctioned the demolition, believing KAAs submissions that the land in question was theirs and to be used for the long overdue expansion of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport but a regular aviation source in an overnight communications put doubts to that: For one the present and past KAA managements were and are largely incompetent, we have said that time and again and the failures of JKIA systems are too many to recount here. KAA is dogged by allegations of nepotism, the last CEO is the best example for that and the appointment of the present CEO was surrounded by deep controversy also when even parliament was ignored after the minister made the appointment in great haste. These guys were sitting on their behinds for too long doing nothing. Airport expansion was not a priority until JKIA became the mess it is for all to see. Only last week we were voted to be amongst the worst airports in the world. If that land is truly KAAs, and there is no evidence for that as far as one can see, they should have fenced it off years ago and made it part of the restricted areas secured by patrols and gadgets. They never did however. If government now wants to claim this land they should negotiate with the owners, offer compensation, alternative land and allow an orderly process to go ahead, not to create facts with bulldozers, destroy peoples live savings and property and leave them in the cold to rot. There are elections next year and though the president will retire, the prime minister will face the music over this atrocity. It will become a campaign issue for sure. In any case, this will end up in court Monday morning and I expect an injunction to be issued against further demolitions, which is why they were so busy pulling houses down. The same situation by the way exists at Wilson Airport where buildings were permitted to be constructed in the approach and departure paths, which is very dangerous, for those living there and any aircraft in trouble trying to make it to the runway. We had a few accidents with aircraft crashing into residential buildings already there over the past years. Why did government stand by and see these apartments go up and did nothing. At JKIA the demolished houses were not a threat to the approach and departure paths.
This correspondent has been on KAAs case for a long time over their neglect to develop a timely vision and make it reality for Kenyas and in fact the regions most important aviation hub, but that said, should the bulldozing tactics of the weekend turn out to be illegal by a court ruling, then time really should be up for the KAA management and perhaps a criminal prosecution would be the right response over malicious damage and fraudulent claims over land they do not own. Time will tell, and so will I, so watch this space.
EASTERN CONGO ELEPHANT POPULATION MORE THAN HALFED IN LAST DECADE
Alarming figures have emerged from research carried out in the Eastern Congo, a region savaged by civil war and divided by militia ruled fiefdoms, denying the central government in Kinshasa full control or a part of the country rich in natural resources, both in the ground as well as above. The presence of the killer militias from the conflict in Rwanda too had played a serious role, as they, like others, are also accused of commercial style poaching for ivory, while in Garamba National Park it was the Ugandan rebels of ICC wanted Joseph Kony which is thought responsible for the extinction of the Northern White Rhino, that last free roaming population on record.
Moreover, biodiversity in general has taken a serious knock since the outbreak of civil war in Congo, first fought to dislodge Mobuto and then, when the late Kabila senior welshed on his erstwhile allies, a second round of war which made life for the populations and the wildlife even harsher. Conflict since then has never ended and pollution was added to the woes of this naturally gifted area when the rulers forced people into mining for coltan and other minerals, poisoning entire stretches of the environment through their greed and the total lack of safeguards and environmental mitigation measures.
Millions of people were displaced, hundreds of thousands died and alongside these atrocities did the numbers of elephant, estimated to be over 22.000 in Eastern Congo before the outbreak of civil strife, sink to as low as 6.000 according to the latest figures circulating amongst the conservation fraternity.
As the focus of the world moved to other hotspots, like the so called Arab Spring, the fight for survival of the wildlife, as well as the people of Eastern Congo persists, and with few reports now making the headlines, these tragic developments go largely unnoted.
Considering the price ivory now commands in the consumer markets of China and other Far Eastern countries, and of corrupt officials facilitating not just the poaching but also the smuggling of blood ivory out of the country to make its way through a pipeline of accomplices to the treasure cabinets of the nouvelle riche in the trade hubs of China, the future is bleak for the survival of the remaining elephant in Eastern Congo, unless a full rule of law can be restored and the protected areas in existence be truly protected from the greed of humans for the white gold. Watch this space.
(Aerial display over the skies of Dubai part of the bi-annual Dubai Air Show)
The bi-annual Dubai Air Show started off with a bang yesterday, when Emirates announced a record breaking firm order for 50 B777-300ER and a further 20 options, which if as expected exercised would catapult the value of the deal to about 26 billion US Dollars.
The airline already operates 94 of the worlds second largest passenger plane, after the giant Airbus A380, and has another 41 in the delivery pipeline. The B777 can reach literally any point on the globe from Emirates hub in Dubai nonstop and is the backbone aircraft in the fleet on all those routes where their fast growing A380 fleet is too large to make commercial sense.
Current orders are due to be completed by 2015 and the new deal, which incidentally makes it Boeings best ever year, after 2005, for sales of the B777, will commence seamlessly thereafter.
The next biggie expected at the Dubai Airshow, which this year will be held for the last time at Dubai International Airport, aka DXB, is the much awaited announcement by Qatar Airways Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker, with speculation over just the size of a follow on order for the Airbus A380, not the fact itself.. The new mega airport in Doha is by the admission of Al Baker, made at a recent meeting in Kampala during the launch of daily flights between Doha and Entebbe, built around the A380, the only airport in fact claiming this accolade, and subsequently QR is expected to substantially increase the pending orders for the A380, though not thought to be an immediate match for Emirates order of 90 overall.
The Dubai Air Show, in 2013 to be held at the brand new Dubai World Central, or DWC airport in Jebel Ali, has also once again highlighted the growing divide between the optimistic if not visionary carriers based in the Gulf region, led by Emirates in terms of size and by Qatar Airways in terms of global quality Sky Trax pronounced QR as the worlds top airline in their last annual survey compared to the gloom and doom talk amongst North American carriers where Chapter 11 talk persists once again, or the airlines in Europe which are struggling with congested airports, congested skies and regulatory regimes and governments making aviation an almost daily struggle. Targetted by a new range of eco taxes, which are nothing else but a blatant attempt to siphon money out of passengers and airlines pockets, restricted by night time landing and takeoff rules, for instance slapped on the new 4th runway in Frankfurt the moment it was opened, are making the fullest use of the expensive fleets an ever more difficult proposition, and the Gulf states of the UAE and of Qatar are making the most and the best out of their rivals predicaments and are stepping up the ante with yet more aircraft orders.
As said here before, this is nothing short of a major re-alignment of market shares and of economics of both scale and capacity use, since the new mega airports in the Gulf area suffer no flying restrictions, allowing the best utilization of the newest and most technologically advanced fleets found anywhere in the world.
Watch this space for the upcoming Qatar Airways announcement from Dubais Air Show.