Archive for August, 2011

Seychelles aviation news – ‘HM’ ends UK MoD contract to Falklands


Information was sourced from Mahe that the contract between the British Ministry of Defense to operate flights between the UK air force base in Brize – Norton and the Falklands, via Ascension Island is going to expire this weekend and that ‘HM’ will not be seeking a contract renewal.

Air Seychelles was selected by the MoD as a proven operator to remote island locations, and has two decades of experience in operating the B767 from and to Mahe. The last flight for the MoD will be this Friday following which the aircraft will return to the Seychelles from where it will be deployed as of 08th September on the regular route between Mahe via Rome to London. The installed ‘medical suite’ which was providing for the uplift of seriously ill people or service personnel from the Falklands will be removed from the aircraft and the standard business / economy configuration restored.

The Executive Chairman of Air Seychelles, Mr. Maurice Loustau-Lalanne reportedly commented that the airline would now mind its core business of passenger air transport between the archipelago and key destinations from where tourists fly to the islands and had therefore decided to opt out of the arrangements with the British Defense Ministry.

It was also learned that the long search for a new Chief Executive Officer has apparently yielded results and the ‘new man’, known to this correspondent already for some time, will be revealed in due course.

Watch this space for regular and breaking news updates from East Africa’s and the Indian Ocean region’s aviation industry. 


East African aviation news – Dar aviation conference draws over 200 participatns


The African Airline Association took advantage of the just ended aviation conference in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, to expose once again the lack of implementation of the Yamoussoukro Declaration, besides highlighting on behalf of their members the pressing issues of investments in the aviation infrastructure and brain drain of highly qualified professionals to particularly the Gulf region. The Yamoussoukro agreement, signed in 1999, was due to have been fully operationalised by 2002, but now, 9 years later, several AU member states still have not made an effort to implement its provisions. AFRAA’s Secretary General Elijah Chingosho also spoke on taxation, another deterrent to the growth of aviation.

The conference was officially opened by President Kikwete and brought together over 200 participants, mainly from the region but also further abroad. Regulatory staff had come alongside government delegations, representatives of a number of African airlines and from ICAO, IATA and the FAA. The theme of the meeting, ‘Air Transport in Africa – Strengthening Leadership, Sustaining Growth’ discussed since Monday this week a range of pressing issues, amongst them the failure of governments to promote inter Africa air traffic while opening their skies to foreign airlines. One participant who regularly interacts with this correspondent pointed out that as long as cross border air transport within the East African Community was treated as ‘foreign’ and non tariff barriers maintained vis a vis fees charged, clearances granted and restrictions in place to fly passengers to a final destination in a park for instance ‘…these conferences and meetings will remain talking shops. We would not mind having one single regulator again in East Africa, because right now we have five and each of them wants a slice of our cake by taking fees. In the process an airline could need 5 AOC’s, 5 separate companies and five different structures if it would want to operate in each of the member states. This is very very costly and our fares and charges must reflect this. This is the crunch point here and is reflected in similar fashion across the continent where big Gulf airlines get all the freedom to operate and siphon off traffic while African airlines from neighbouring countries are treated often with disdain, treated as unwelcome, as ‘foreign’ and as ‘usurpers’. This must change if air transport is to develop like in the US. Flying in Africa is an almost natural form of transport due to distances, lack of road and rail  and of course for tourists. But when you even look at regulations for leisure flying, it is hard to believe that anyone would still bother, as they are so restrictive, so unreal at times for instance for micro lights. The mindset of regulators and of governments are challenged here to change, so that air transport can really take off’.

These sentiments have been lingering for years, it is recalled, while in addition the cost of aviation fuel, and its general availability like for AVGAS for instance, is a related issue preventing aviation from being considered a form of mass transport as it is elsewhere.

Watch this space.                                                                                                                   

Zanzibar festival news – Jahazi Jazz and Literature Festival this weekend


September 02nd until 04th will see the inaugural edition of the ‘Jahazi Literary and Jazz Festival’, to be officially launched by Zanzibar’s President Ali Mohamed Sein. The island is already home to one of the most significant music and cultural festivals on the entire African continent, Sauti Za Busara and this second festival is aimed to further entrench Zanzibar as THE cultural, music and performing arts centre, not just in East Africa but for the entire continent.

A press statement obtained from Zanzibar, issued by the president’s office, says: ‘I believe this festival will raise awareness on [the] importance of people’s culture, democracy, respect for human rights and better management of Africa’s resources’.

Alongside the music performances a series of workshops will be organized to and the winners of a school writing competition on the theme ‘Writers for Peace’ will be announced in a special award ceremony towards the end of the festival on Sunday.

Venue for the festival’s main performances is the ‘Old Fort’ and a nominal entrance fee will be charged to enter the area.

Adds this correspondent that “Peace through music, literature and arts’ surely complements the better known ‘Peace through Tourism’. Flights to Zanzibar operate several times a day from Nairobi, Mombasa and of course Dar es Salaam on several airlines including Precision Air, Kenya Airways and Fly 540.

Don’t miss this unique opportunity to hear African jazz interpretations.

African conservation breaking news – 800 tusks confiscated in Hong Kong


Nearly 800 elephant tusks were yesterday found in containers, shipped from Africa via Malaysia to Hong Kong. The consignment weighed nearly two tons and is estimated to have a street value of about 13 million Hong Kong Dollars. CITES’s Secretariat and Interpol will be conducting a DNA analysis on the blood ivory to ascertain the precise origin of the contraband, working hand in hand with police and customs authorities in Hong Kong. All shipping documents linked to the container are also being forensically examined and audited to track the route of the shipment back to the port of origin in Africa.

Only last week were 1.041 tusks confiscated in Zanzibar by customs officials, also allegedly destined for Malaysia but widely thought to have China as a final destination.

The most recent finds mean that for the two consignments alone over 900 elephant were butchered but considering the amount of blood ivory which has not been discovered and reached its destination, estimates are that between several thousand elephant will have been killed this year to feed the growing greed for the ‘white gold’ stemming from the demand for ivory on the Chinese market.

The global conservation fraternity, while welcoming the vigilance of the Hong Kong customs officials and security organs, is now demanding that China immediately strengthens their relevant laws on import, possession, processing and trading in ivory products and introduces crippling fines and long term incarceration for culprits found guilty in a court of law.

Existing laws provide presently for fines of up to 2 million Hong Kong Dollars for importation of un-manifested cargos, or imprisonment of up to 7 years, or both while under the law providing for the protection of endangered species and plants a fine of up to 5 million Hong Kong Dollars and imprisonment of up to two years can be dished out.

Conservationists have privately voiced their disgust over the level of punishment, considering that the wildlife legacy of Africa is being recklessly plundered and proposed jail terms, in Africa itself for the poachers but also in the importing countries, of 10 years and more be introduced while fines should be aimed at financially crippling the culprits as a deterrent against poaching.

Two weeks ago the Executive Committee of CITES met, and initially tried to exclude NGO’s and civil society organization and activists from their meeting but reversed their decision when immediate global pressure was applied on them to allow the conservation fraternity into the meeting.

It emerged that poaching and illegal ivory trade were high on the agenda and of growing concern to many countries and proposals were made to withdraw China’s status as an approved ivory trading nation to tear off the mantle of legality from basically illicit transactions.

Watch this space.


Seychelles conservation breaking news – SNPA gets new board


The Minister for Environment, the Hon. Joel Morgan, has yesterday appointed a new board of directors to guide and supervise the Seychelles National Park Authority. Mr. Flavien Joubert has been appointed the Chairman of the Board while Dr. Frauke Dogley, CEO of the Seychelles Island Foundation, was appointed to the board. Others are Capt. Jean Atalla from the Seychelles Coast Guard, Philomena Hollanda representing the Seychelles Tourism Board, Roy Clarisse from the Seychelles Fishing Authority and Dr. Reine-Marie Hoareau of the Department of Education.

SNPA is tasked to look after and manage the territorial national parks like Morne on the main island of Mahe but also marine national parks, after the two bodies separately responsible for marine and terrestrial parks were merged last year to streamline conservation measures and implement government policies under one roof. The Seychelles is the only country in the world which has over 50 percent of its geographical land area under protection and has been able to cash in through increased tourism receipts and arrivals on their global reputation to be an absolutely ‘green’ destination. Chief Executive of SNPA is Mr. Denis Matatiken.

Congratulations upon this appointment to all members of the board and all the best in their challenging task and work ahead.



Kenya aviation news update – Aviation links on bilateral talks agenda with the US


A bilateral meeting between the United States and Kenya at the end of September will have aviation on the agenda, it was understood from a source in Nairobi.

The inexplicable cancellation of a Delta Airlines inaugural flight in early 2010, ostensible over obscure ‘security concerns’, caused consternation in Kenya’s government circles, more so considering the growing number of American tourists coming to East Africa and landing initially in Nairobi. The ‘reasons’ were also soundly rejected by other airline executives in Kenya at the time, low key of course considering the possible overkill reaction by the Americans when it comes to ‘matters of national security’ where common sense and reason no longer seem to have any place.

The bilateral meeting, to be attended amongst others by the ministers responsible for tourism and for transport will undoubtedly try to get the US lift their objections and permit Delta to finally commence flights, and with over 100.000 American tourists expected in Kenya this year there is a growing commercial and economic reason for having direct airlinks alongside the ‘traditional’ routes via Europe.

The same sources also commented on Kenya’s intention to have flights between Russia and Kenya resume. In the ‘old days’ Aeroflot regularly landed in Nairobi but has since shed the route while undergoing restructuring, but with a growing number of visitors from Russia to Kenya, and via Nairobi into the region, there – as is the case with America – reasons exist to finally look again at direct flights and not leave the entire uplift to mainly Gulf carries which connect Russian cities several times a day to their hubs in Dubai, Doha, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain.

For the latest aviation news updates from Eastern Africa and the Indian Ocean region, look no further, read it all here.


Rwanda conservation news – NGO’s involved in re-afforestation


The Rwanda Afforestation Support Programme earlier in the week released data of their accomplishments, having planted over 160 hectares of land along main roads with trees while planting over 460 hectares on previously degraded and encroached forest land. The group, with funding from Belgium and the Netherlands will continue their work, now eyeing a further 500 hectares with the overall objective being 2.000 hectares to be replanted with valuable tropical trees. Improved forestry management too is part of the project’s aims and will expand over 10.000 hectares, guiding local communities on best forestry management practices.

This NGO initiative is copied all over Rwanda by other civil society organizations and NGO’s, often with support of development partners, donors and the Rwandan government, which has an expressed policy to increase forest cover by 2020 to 30 percent of the country in order to protect water sources, maintain bio-diversity and protect the local micro climate from radical changes.

This sets Rwanda apart from countries like Uganda, where the powers that be want to give away over 7.000 hectares of intact tropical rainforest to allow a financially ailing Indian owned sugar company grow sugar cane – not long after his own government divested from that very company for constant financial losses over the past decades. Watch this space. 

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