PRASLIN RESIDENTS COMPLAINTS AWAIT NEW AIR SEYCHELLES MANAGERS
As the new CEO and his CFO got acquainted to their desks at the Air Seychelles headoffice at the Mahe International Airport, across on Praslin island did residents and tourism stakeholders voice their concerns, if not outright protest, over the state of inter island air services provided by Air Seychelles on their domestic flights.
Besides much lower occupancies we have this year, it is even difficult at times to get to the main island or for tourists to come over by air. Some of Air Seychelles domestic aircraft are not operating it seems, we dont know why, but we hear that they only got one new Twin Otter last year and the order for the other aircraft was either cancelled or delayed when the new chairman and board took over and Capt. Savy left. We in Praslin depend on reliable air services, not just the ferry services between Port Victoria and here, so the new managers need to know that it is not only their international revival for our national airline which is at stake but they should pay attention to our domestic flight services also quite immediately a regular source from Praslin wrote to this correspondent yesterday, after reading about the arrival of the new management team.
It appears that the Seychelles Hotel and Tourism Association is also getting involved in this issue, as they reportedly held a meeting yesterday on Praslin to get firsthand knowledge of the various concerns their members, and the public at large, have vis a vis air transport but also general tourism developments and investments on the archipelagos second largest island. On the agenda were according to the source also the deployment of life guards along the main beaches and stepped up security to prevent petty thefts of tourists property while swimming, something which is reportedly being taken seriously by government keen to maintain the paradise reputation of the archipelago. Watch this space.
Archive for February 2nd, 2012
Seychelles news update – New Air Seychelles management confronted on day one with domestic air services problems
PRASLIN RESIDENTS COMPLAINTS AWAIT NEW AIR SEYCHELLES MANAGERS
PRESIDENT KIBAKI TO FORMALLY OPEN NEW KISUMU INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
Today will see the long awaited formal opening of the extension of Kisumus newly elevated international airport by none other than President Mwai Kibaki who will fly to Kisumu from Nairobi for the function. Work for the expansion of Kisumu International Airport started back in 2009 but was initially troubled by local clans demanding compensation for land long in the possession of government, halting the construction for a considerable period of time. Kisumu, often being critizised by airlines for the poor state of the runway, had this centerpiece not only completely resealed but also extended to cater for wide bodied aircraft being able to land and take off with full loads. Equally was the taxiway extended and the terminal buildings were extensively refurbished and expanded, to cater for as many as 600 passengers to be processed per hour.
Kisumu is part of the Kenya Tourist Boards centre points in opening up new tourism circuits for visitors, not only because President Obambas paternal home village is just a few miles away from the lakeside city but also for nearby national parks and Lake Victoria.
Presently do Kenya Airways and Jetlink, amongst others, fly to Kisumu several times a day on scheduled services, making tourism and trade now much easier compared to the old days when visitors had to come by road or charter a light aircraft from Nairobis Wilson Airport.
The airport was initially built in the 1930s when Kisumu was still called Port Florence and in particular served East African Airways which in the early days of the first East African Community still operated a lake circuit connecting Entebbe across the lake in Uganda, Mwanza and Bukoba in Tanzania.
Uganda celebrates World Wetlands Day while conservationists decry lip service and turning a blind eye by government
DEVASTATING JUDGEMENT ON UGANDAS PROTECTION OF WETLANDS
As the World Wetlands Day is being celebrated around the globe, Uganda has little to be proud of, considering the devastating report produced by the national biomass study, that the country has lost nearly 570.000 hectares of wetlands over the past two decades. Relentless encroachment, draining and complicity with often corrupt local and national officials has seen many key wetlands in particular in and around Kampala, Entebbe and Mukono being built over, and NEMA, the National Environmental Management Authority, has regularly turned a blind eye to reports of wetland destruction, with in particular the past Executive Director Dr. Aramanya Mugisha notorious for not responding to mails or messages left for him with details outlining locations and other details. The formation of an arm of the national police force to combat environmental crimes was also seen by many in the conservation fraternity as a pure appeasement move, as the unit largely exists on paper only with the main body of the Uganda Police focusing on other issues and not, as one senior cop recently said to this correspondent: we do not have resources and manpower and experts to allow us pursue reports about illegal logging in forests or wetland encroachment. Those responsible for managing such natural resources must uphold the law from their own end and when we are asked to support we do, but the environmental police unit is not able to act without scientists, equipment like labs and research facilities, vehicles and most important manpower.
It is understood that on the occasion of the World Wetlands Day a new demarcation exercise is to commence across the country, attempting to secure what is left and audit what has been lost compared to existing wetland maps produced in the past, but the sheer number of wetlands will make it difficult to achieve more than just a few show cases where examples are being made of individuals who encroached with impunity.
In Kampala several parts of the city are now prone to flooding after buildings were licensed to go up in what used to be drainage swamps and wetlands towards Lake Victoria and even the crucial highway to Entebbe has in the past repeatedly flooded as on both sides of it water could no longer drain and submerged buildings and offices at times for days. One of Africas most important bird transit wetlands, Lutembe Bay, a Ramsar Site, has been shrinking to a fraction of its original size, in the process decimating the number of the White Winged Black Terns, which used to come to Ugandas Lake Victoria shores to rest before continuing their annual journey.
As the saying goes, there is always hope but unless that hope is back up with concrete measures it is bound to falter and leave Uganda more exposed to the impact of climate change, as changed micro climates in the worst affected parts of the country already show, where the decimation of wetlands has brought about higher temperatures and reduced crop yields amongst other environmental fallout, a harbinger of things to come. World Wetlands Day a day to celebrate but also to take stock, not just a day for more lip service.
(Picture courtesy of Lesley Simpson Communications)
TripAdvisor has named the Kilaguni Serena Safari Lodge in the heart of Tsavo West National Park as their top choice for 2012 for their annual Top 25 Bargain Hotels in Africa by TripAdvisor when the results of their readers and contributors survey conducted at the end of last year came in.
Kilaguni is one of Kenyas oldest lodges and was only acquired by Serena when it came on the market after the breakup of African Tours & Hotels, and then transformed into a property worth carrying the Serena name in its own right. It today provides a crucial link on the beach / safari circuit between the Mombasa Serena Resort and Spa and the groups Amboseli Serena Lodge, one of the original four properties Serena opened up with in the 1970s.
Congratulations to the Serena team for having yet another feather stuck into their corporate hat.
(Picture courtesy of Air Uganda)
With presently three flights a week between Entebbe to Mombasa and on to Zanzibar, Ugandas quasi national airline U7 is clearly intent to fill those 50 seats in the CRJ 200 they use on the route. Fares, excluding of taxes, begin at 99 US Dollars return, opening up the Kenyan coast or the beaches of Zanzibar for wannabe holiday makers. Air Uganda was only recently confirmed as East Africas most punctual airline when on time departure statistics became available from regional regulators from the destinations the airline is flying to in Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and the South Sudan including of course here in Uganda.
The fare though also highlights what has been said here time and again, that the regulatory charges and taxes heaped upon air transport in the region are unreasonably high and kept high through multiple layers of bureaucraZY pun fully intended and a fat cat mentality across the region with a sense of entitlement instead of service by national regulators as well as CASSOA. The tax inclusive fare of USD 284 shows that fees and taxes levied on the ticket of 185 US Dollars are nearly twice as much as the fare itself, a damning indictment of failed aviation policies in the region which make the use of air transport too expensive for most to even consider.
So it is bouquets for Air Uganda for their attempt to break down the price barriers and mega barbs for the regulators and respective governments for trying to turn a calf, i.e. the regions fledgling aviation industry, into a cow to milk.