AIR SEYCHELLES SET TO GET 2 A330-200 AND AT LEAST 1 A320
A regular source from Victoria has confirmed that the Seychelles national airline will between mid and end of June receive their first A330-200 aircraft, painted in Air Seychelles livery. Crews are already training for type conversion from their old licenses for the B767 to the new Airbus, and those who have already graduated are presently flying alongside their colleagues on Etihad routes where the A330 is deployed.
The same source also confirmed that by the end of 2012 or latest in early 2013 a second A330-200 will join the Air Seychelles fleet, besides which an A320 is expected to serve the routes to Mauritius and still to be revealed additional destinations on the African mainland.
Presently are flights between Mahe to Johannesburg and Abu Dhabi operated on a wet leased A330-200 aircraft from Etihad before the exchange will take place in a few weeks time.
Once the second A330 joins Air Seychelles flights to Beijing should commence soon thereafter in early 2013 to offer the first nonstop flight connection between China and the Seychelles. Air Seychelles presently flies twice a week to Johannesburg and four times a week to Abu Dhabi, alongside 4 flights by Etihad under a full code share arrangement, which has already seen Etihads initial 4 flight per week rise to a total of 8, connecting the island like never before with the entire Etihad destination network. Watch this space for regular news from the Indian Ocean islands aviation industry.
Archive for May 17th, 2012
AIR SEYCHELLES SET TO GET 2 A330-200 AND AT LEAST 1 A320
Seychelles resorts and restaurants reeling from rocketing cost for cooking gas as government scraps subsidies
SEYCHELLES RESORTS AND RESTAURANTS UP IN ARMS OVER ROCKETING GAS PRICE
A number of Seychelles based hoteliers and owners of restaurants in regular contact with this correspondent have expressed their dismay, if not outright anger, over the sharp rise of the price for liquefied gas to now nearly Seychelles Rupees per litre.
It was learned that the government has removed the 10 Rupees per litre subsidy with immediate effect, forcing the hand of the Seychelles Petroleum Company to raise the price for commercial deliveries, while according to one source the subsidy for households continues to remain in place: The government maintains subsidies for domestic users but has told us the subsidies for commercial users like resorts and restaurants will be scrapped. This will be a significant cost rise for us and we cannot cushion that even with the best of good will. When gas prices almost double it means the consumer prices for meals in restaurants and hotels will have to go up. There is no way, with current pressure on cost already, to absorb such increases.
Another source also raised issues with the definition of domestic users and businesses or commercial users by pointing out: As a restaurant owner I am now bound to pay a lot more for my gas and my menu prices have to go up. But if I would cook take away meals from my house and sell them to my customers, I still get my gas at the same subsidized rate as before. I know government wants to protect Seychellois from rising global fuel prices, which have already jolted the cost of transport because petrol costs so much more now, but from a business view point I have to raise my concern. If take away meals will be so much cheaper, when our menu prices must go up, then we might lose business and that is also not right.
Another regular source commented that government was entirely right to keep the subsidies in place for domestic consumers, because other fuel price related increases were not resulting in raised salaries. Our government feels it has a responsibility to the people. Salary increases lag behind cost rises in daily life. Bus fares are kept low to let people live within their budgets and gas is a similar thing. I see of course that business struggle now to adjust their sales prices but at least for ordinary Seychellois government is on their side.
Since the start of the year were petrol and diesel prices raised, electricity cost have gone up and now with the risen gas prices resorts and restaurants are struggling to make ends meet. It is understood that the Seychelles Hospitality and Tourism Association will be seeking audience with government to urgently discuss the escalating costs for their members and seek ways and means to soften the blow, which could have a serious impact on tourism revenues and visitor arrivals, should rising costs of doing business further drive up accommodation tariffs and the cost of extras while in country. Watch this space.
VIRGIN ANNOUNCES END TO KENYA FLIGHTS
A shock announcement was dropped on Kenya yesterday by the management of Virgin, presently operating daily flights between London Heathrow and Nairobis Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, that they will discontinue flights effective 24th September this year.
A senior airline executives statement was quoted to this correspondent by an aviation source from Nairobi overnight that the economic climate in Europe was a major factor for the carriers decision to halt flights to Kenya, though no mention was given to the sharp level of competition on the route which has Kenya Airways as the predominant airline to the UKs capital with British Airways only recently announcing they would start using their B747-400s again on the route to increase capacity, besides more flights.
The Nairobi source added: Their staff in Nairobi had been speculating for a while if this might happen and Sir Richard has left no opportunity to blame aviation woes on the UK government. Fees and taxes there just rocketed and the pretence on a green tax was exposed as just another cash cow for the Exchequer. The EU ETS has also added more cost to flying. But personally I feel that if Virgin had a good revenue and load on the route, they might have stayed. I remember when Lufthansa pulled out from Nairobi they had high loads but claimed their revenues were below acceptable average. Maybe the choice of aircraft Virgin uses is also an issue but I seen the main reason in the stiff competition. Kenya Airways and British Airways will be laughing all the way to the bank when Virgin ends flights in September because they will absorb that nonstop traffic and the big Gulf airlines and other European carries will also try to carve out market share from what Virgin is leaving behind.
Virgin notably was supporting wildlife conservation initiatives and had plans to invest in their own venture in Kenya but this is now also in doubt, and it can be expected that when supported projects mature there will be no further financial assistance forthcoming, unless as a private initiative by Sir Richard Branson.
A source close to Kenya Airways also just answered, allowing to complete this report: The UK is one of Kenya Airways biggest markets and very important for passengers and cargo. Kenya Airways has been increasing capacity on the London route and the problem until now was to get more slots at Heathrow. For sure the withdrawal of Virgin as a rival airline from the route will benefit KQ considerably but it is also a negative bit of news for Kenya as a country. They are not saying but maybe they were worried about the elections coming up and that might have influenced them also in this decision. Our economy is strong here in Kenya, and while tourism is struggling to match last years record results, our boys and girls at KTB are working the globe to find new markets and bring tourists from say China or India. For sure Virgin will be missed by many here in Kenya because the airline promoted the destination strongly and that will be our all loss when that stops.
For friends of Virgin, the time to sample them is clearly now running out as in 4 months time they will no longer be seen in the skies above Kenya, as the last inbound flight leaves London on September 23rd and then returns with a last load of passengers to the heartbroken waves of their staff and friends on September 24th.
Watch this space for breaking and regular aviation news from East Africa.
SWAHILI FASHION WEEK IS COMING TO A PLACE NEAR YOU IN EAST AFRICA
The fifth edition of the Swahili Fashion Week will go underway in Kenyas capital Nairobi with the first of overall four events, when the Nairobi Showcase takes place on the 30th August this year.
This will be followed by the Arusha Showcase on the 01st of September, thereafter giving sufficient time to evaluate the submissions of designs and creations before the finals go underway in Dar es Salaam between the 08th and 10th of November this year with a Fashion Week and Awards.
The Grand Finale is set for the Spice Island of Zanzibar, fast becoming a magnet for culture, art and performance presentations as seen with the annual Sauti Za Busara festival, where on the night of the 11th November the who is who of East African fashion will gather to celebrate the winners of the Swahili Fashion Week 2012 before having an after party under the full moon.
Design submissions have been extended until TOMORROW, 18th of May only, so rush if you have fashion ideas ready to be shown to the critical eye of the judges and the public. Watch this space as another East African festival is coming your way. Visit www.swahilifashionweek.com for more information and details.
Gulf Air’s future hangs in the balance after Bahrain’s lower house of parliament rejects bail out package
GULF AIRS FUTURE HANGS IN BALANCE
Sources from Bahrain have overnight confirmed that the Kingdoms lower house of parliament has yesterday rejected a proposed bailout plan presented by the airline, worth some US Dollars 1.75 billion and referred the matter to the upper house of parliament for moderation and mediation. The Kingdoms government has committed itself to see the airline survive but under what scenario that will happen, with several options on the table, there is no sure way of telling the outcome, now that the funding is being decided by the two houses of parliament and largely out of governments hands.
According to one source sparks must have been flying when the lower house deliberated on the airlines performance, which earlier in the year, after less than three months of operations to Entebbe, pulled out of Uganda as part of a major cost cutting programme aimed to concentrate on routes making profit, as seen to neighbouring Kenya where the carrier now flies daily. According to the reports, members of the parliamentary committee discussing Gulf Airs bailout threw a range of accusations against the airlines top management for allegedly squandering money, with some going as far as demanding stronger measures to be used to establish if any questionable transactions have taken place while demanding changes at the helm of the airline. Gulf Air over the past two years, has not only suffered from the industry challenges of the upheavals of the global economy but was particularly hard hit through what has often been described as externally sponsored unrest, aimed to overthrow the monarchy with the equally often suggested motive to replace it with a theocracy instead. Passenger numbers subsequently shrank for both flights to Bahrain as well as for transit traffic, leading to the implementation of an austerity package and wide ranging cost cutting exercise earlier in the year.
Only days ago did Gulf and equally challenged Royal Jordanian announce a major code share deal for up to 11 flights between Bahrain and Amman but almost instantly drew criticism from aviation analysts over the supposed benefits of this deal for both airlines, unless seen as a precursor to a potentially far greater partnership, under which significant synergy effects could contribute to improved bottom line performances of the two airlines something both governments would warmly welcome in order to reduce subsidies. Interesting here is that prior to his move to Gulf Air in 2009 did CEO Samer Majali serve as CEO at Royal Jordanian and their current CEO Hussain Dabbas is set to also leave for a top position with IATA next month, leaving the implementation of the deal to his successor.
Aviation watchers are now at edge to see the next round of talks in parliament in Bahrain to find out what fate awaits Gulf Air, which from its erstwhile position as THE pan Gulf carrier has over the past two decades reduced in function to be the national airline of the Kingdom of Bahrain, after all other partner states progressively pulled out to establish their own national airlines. Watch this space for future updates, keenly anticipated as the fate of one of the Gulf aviations former greats now hangs in the balance.
UGANDA WILDLIFE AUTHORITY LAUNCHES NEW WEBSITE
Virtual access to Ugandas ten national parks was just made easier for anyone wishing to visit the Pearl of Africa during the countrys 50th anniversary year of Independence from Britain, after the Uganda Wildlife Authority and their partners launched the latest state of the art website version.
Supported by USAIDs STAR project this development is considered a cornerstone for future e-marketing and combined use of the social media through links to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and even TripAdvisor, allowing site visitors to instantly share their most liked feature with their social network friends. Find UWA on Facebook via www.facebook.com/UgandaWildlifeAuthority or follow them on Twitter via @ugwildlife.
Uganda in 2012 is also the Lonely Planets top global destination, which gave a significant boost to interest in the country from around the world and more airline connections than ever before to Entebbe, Ugandas international airport, are making visits easier and more affordable than ever before.
Special sections on the site for a special visitors guide, for the media, the travel trade, researchers and even potential investors wishing to obtain a concession for a tented safari camp, a lodge or other tourism activities can now get to relevant content at the click of just one button, instead of having to navigate through a maze of information as was the case before the new site was launched. A regular contributor of story lines and information, who attended the launch yesterday, had this to say: The launch of the new website is also marking the turn of a page at UWA. They had some rough two years with all the enquiries and allegations and uncertainties. It is a positive development that partners like USAID stayed put with them and continued to assist to make UWA and our national parks more visible on the net. This is a big step forward and with the troubles left behind surely UWA can now look at a brighter future again and play their part in promoting Ugandas rich wildlife heritage.
True enough, this one event of the launch of the new website is also perceived by many in Ugandas tourism industry as the break of a new dawn for Uganda Wildlife Authority. Well done and in particular many thanks to USAIDs STAR project team for their support.
SEYCHELLES FOR I PHONE YES YOU CAN
Tourists intending to visit the Creole Island Paradise of the Seychelles, for real or through a virtual visit will now be able to download a dedicated Seychelles application to their iPhone or iPad, also available for Android smart phones. Seychelles Connect has recently launched their novel way of making access to information about the Seychelles easier for those already on the islands, those intending to travel there soon and also those who simply wish to dream about a holiday of a lifetime.
Described as the best Seychelles application available the download, needless to mention, is free and gives instant access to a range of resorts, from the very top of the pops to simple but adequate Seychellois owned Bed and Breakfast establishments, self catering villas and guest houses, catering for all budgets. Deals have a special section where often phantastic last minute offers are shown besides a news section where up to date information and news from the archipelago can be accessed. Places to see, places to eat out, weather information, what to do while on Mahe, Praslin, La Digue or any or the other islands including details of the annual calendar of major events, all is now at the tip of the fingers for users of smart phones. Need to know something about doing business in the Seychelles, that too is covered and all this can be reached via www.seychellesconnect.com/application/
Mobile accessibility while on the islands can be via roaming service check with your own telecoms operator prior to visiting the islands but it is recommended to purchase a SIM card on arrival from either Cable and Wireless Seychelles or from Airtel Seychelles, buy sufficient credit for a data package and hey presto, access to all this information is possible at very affordable tariffs indeed. Seychelles, truly Another World.