35 AND COUNTING AS KENYA AIRWAYS ADDS A LEASED B767 TO THE FLEET
It was learned overnight that Kenya Airways, the Pride of Africa, has added a sixth B767-300 aircraft to their fleet, arranged through a lease contract with ILFC. The airline has been struggling to keep up the pace of expansion it set itself in the face of simply not getting newly ordered aircraft on line fast enough and the lease arrangement will now permit KQ to fly new routes like to India without overstretching their already highly utilized fleet.
The aircraft can be operated by existing crews without any type conversion but will require additional personnel to effectively exploit its availability. Configured with 24 full flat bed seats in business class the aircraft also offers 211 economy class seats, making it 235 seats overall besides the added cargo capacity which will support KQs growth in that particular sector which has been nothing short of spectacular since the arrival of a dedicated B747-400 freighter a few months ago.
There is now speculation in aviation circles that Kenya Airways may in fact lease more aircraft to roll out their new destinations planned for 2012 and 2013 on time, raising fears amongst local airlines of a yet again intensified recruitment of pilots, cabin crew and technicians as East Africas predominant airline offers attractive working conditions and the chance to eventually fly wide bodied aircraft such as the B787 Dreamliner, when it is finally being delivered in 2014.
Watch this space for the latest news from the aviation industry in Kenya, Eastern Africa and from the Indian Ocean islands.
Archive for May 25th, 2012
35 AND COUNTING AS KENYA AIRWAYS ADDS A LEASED B767 TO THE FLEET
FIBRE OPTIC LINK TO THE WORLD SET TO LAND ON SUNDAY
The Seychelles will be a step closer to joining the global super information highway at the speed of light, when on Sunday the fibre optic cable presently being laid between the coast of Tanzania and the archipelago is expected to make landfall. Presently connected only via satellite links, the government of Seychelles partnered with Cable and Wireless and Airtel to shoulder the investment cost and bring the country into the 21st century of telecommunications. Tariffs for calls and internet usage are expected to drop as faster speeds and multiplied capacity will need to be exploited by the telecom and ISP companies. The cable will land at Beau Vallon Bay where it will be connected to a switch station before reaching via underground cable ducts the telecoms companies, which will then distribute the signals via wireless high speed broadband or else to offices and residences via cable.
The satellite connections will be kept operational as back up, should the fibre optic cable on the seafloor be damaged, as has happened a few times in recent months off the East African coast, leading to serious service disruptions for Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda.
Full connectivity is expected to commence with the benefit of higher speeds and greater capacity when the connections and infrastructure on land are complete and the test phase, expected to take up to 2 months, has been successfully wrapped up.
With the cable landing on a Sunday, substantial crowds are expected at the Beau Vallon Bay beaches of curious onlookers, wanting to see the world come to the Seychelles. The new connection is thought to create an immediate impact of about the user spread and penetration of the internet across the islands at affordable rates, aiding research and studies as well as making e-commerce a greater reality for all sectors of the economy, but especially tourism where visitors often ask first for internet connectivity before even checking where their room is when they arrive at a resort.
(MV Victoria at Mwanza port)
Fear and worries have gripped regular lake travelers who were out of the blue confronted with, what has been called irresponsible statements by poorly informed individuals, who set the media on the shipping companys trail.
A company spokesperson immediately denied any wrongdoing or as has been suggested non compliance with maritime regulations, saying the required sea worthiness certificate was up to date and valid until next year, when the vessel will undergo safety inspections for a renewal. Other sources from the lake side city of Mwanza also suspected that competitors on the route between Mwanza and Bukoba on the Western side of Lake Victoria could be behind the smear efforts, trying to revive memories of the MV Bukoba disaster some 16 years ago, using the May 21st anniversary of the tragic accident to gain attention.
Maritime inspections were considerably stepped up since the ferry accident off Zanzibar last year, when hundreds drowned and more were unaccounted for, similar to the MV Bukoba accident in which as many as 1.000 passengers could have drowned, a figure difficult to ascertain as no manifest gave records of those on board similar to the Zanzibar sinking.
The MV Victoria, pictured above courtesy of Mr. Asif Jawad of LakeZoneDesire, was built 52 years ago and is licensed, according to information at hand, to carry up to 1.200 passengers and crew and 200 metric tons of cargo. It is the only major ship regularly sailing between the two ports, with alternative transport available by air and through a lengthy road trip. Records availed show that MV Victoria last had a major overhaul 20 years ago but had regular repair work carried out as well a preventive maintenance. Said a periodic source from Arusha, when contacted to comment: It is a bit irresponsible to make such allegations in public that a ship is not safe. The Zanzibar accident has brought many changes how existing regulations are now enforced. The local media should also not jump on every carrot which is dangled before them without making sure of all facts and established if they are not being used by competitors for their own end. But for sure training in emergency response for land based rescue teams, available rescue assets and better communications is something Lake Victoria should have to promote better use as a tourism resource. There is a lot of potential for lake tourism and it has not been used at all so far. Watch this space.
DEATH IN CUSTODY SET TO ROCK KENYA / UK RELATIONS
Another suspicious death in police custody, and of no less than the heir of a British aristocrat, is bound to cast fresh shadows over Kenya / UK relations. Pathologists, according to reports emerging yesterday at the south coast of Mombasa in Diani, where this correspondent is coincidentally staying at present, speak of blunt force trauma to the head, causing a severe haematoma of the brain. While it appears the police officers at Diani police station rushed the 28 year old victim to hospital, when they realized how serious his condition had become, allegations are now flying wildly about regular police brutality, mostly inflicted on Kenyans themselves, though in this case a tourist visitor they had arrested over alleged use of smoking bhang akamarijuana. A family spokesperson was quoted overnight in the local media as categorically rejecting the hastily manufactured explanation by a police spokesman, that the late Alexander Monson died of heartfailure, other than induced by a brutal beating to the head, as the reported post mortem seems to have established.
The case is also bound to renew interest in the decades long unsolved murder of young Julie Ward, whose father has fought a never ending battle to see suspects brought to trial, bound to make its way back into the UK media which will have a field day with the latest case already, all but claiming that Alexander fell victim to regular police brutality as seen every day across Kenyas police stations. It will also not be good news for Kenyas tourism sector, presently experiencing the fallout of a low season with reduced visitor numbers, putting a strain on the coast resorts some of which have in fact closed for renovations though in clear text mostly for lack of business. Said a regular source from the coast on condition of strict anonymity, not wishing to be quoted for fear of police reprisals: Suggestions the young man died of a drug overdose as the police spokesman insinuated are pure speculation if not a smoke screen they are now throwing up to cover their tracks. When they talk of someone helping with their investigations, we all know that it is under the brutal onslaught of flying fists and kicks that they try to extract confessions. The Kenya Police should make way to have this independently investigated like in the UK, when in such cases the Independent Police Complaints Commission steps in. They have done tourism no favour at this crucial time. Mind you, I am not saying that violations of the law should not be followed just because it was a foreign tourist who might be involved, but what I am saying that suspects are just that, suspects, until proven guilty by a court and the police here has no business to behave like it was the dark ages. The UK mainstream market has softened and such negative publicity is only bound to make the work of our marketers even more difficult.
The British High Commission and consular staff based in Mombasa are reportedly following the case closely now that the proverbial has hit the fan as the mainstream media got hold of the story, after being tipped by relatives and friends of the victims who are now assembling at Diani, as the police tried to keep the case under wraps. Unsuccessfully as it turns out, as the truth is bound to emerge. Question is, as and when the police has no other choice but to arrest the officers involved in this tragic death of a suspect in custody, will they treat their colleagues the same way? Watch this space.