Archive for May, 2012

Kenya Airways gets 10th Embraer E190


Kenya Airways has confirmed the delivery of their 10th Embraer E190 jet, configured with 12 business class and 84 economy class seats, this being the last of 3 leased from the Air Lease Corporation or in short ALC.
The new jet will greatly assist the airline in adding more frequencies but also expanding destinations with Kilimanjaro coming on line in early July in a codeshared operation with partner Precision Air. .
The E 190 has taken the pressure off the airlines fleet of B737-700 and -800 used to key destinations in Africa and is now a regular visitor to such places as Bujumbura or Kigali, Entebbe but even Addis Ababa, where the 2×2 configuration in the economy cabin and the 2×1 in business class have been accepted as an acceptable layout on flights of between 1 and up to 3 hours.
The jets are also used, alongside the 3 E170s on routes to Mombasa, Kisumu, Malindi and soon Eldoret giving their local rivals still using older equipment now a run for their money in terms of inflight comfort.
From July onwards are a further 9 E190s expected in intervals of one a month until March 2013 when a batch of newly ordered B737-800s will be delivered, boosting medium haul destinations across Africa where by the end of 2013 Kenya Airways intends to connect every commercial and political capital with Nairobi.
Happy Landings to the new bird, its crews and passengers.

Leopard Beach Resort and Spa suffers fire damage while undergoing the annual maintenance cycle


The Chui as the Leopard Beach is fondly called amongst friends of the resort last night suffered fire damage to the makuti roofs near the main building, when around 02.15 a.m. the fire alarm was sounded by the night staff.
The resort is undergoing its annual spring cleaning and modernization at present, as every year for the past 11 years since veteran hotelier Chris Modigell joined the owners, and no guests were affected therefore.
According to a firsthand report from Diani Beach the fire was extinguished with the help of its own inhouse trained security team supported by a state of the art fire hydrant ring line, the valuable assistance of the Ukunda airstrip fire truck and neighbouring resorts staff also trained in fire response, preventing greater damage to the structures. Group 4 Security too provided assistance though the Kwale County Councils fire department was reportedly as non responsive as ever, prompting a few choice words being uttered by another source called to corroborate the story.
The famous bars Marios and Marcos bars makuti roofs were also affected but damage to both facilities was very limited. The linen stores and laundry and some offices nearby however suffered greater damage, nothing though which cannot be replaced, and while the planned re-opening on 29th June, an annual event when the Chui make a re-appearance on the market sparkling new and fresh for another year of near full house occupancies, may have to be pushed, the resort is due to announce the anticipated dates very soon.
Fire adjusters from the insurance company are already on site and foul play has been ruled out as far as present investigations confirm, leading to a short circuit as the potential source which might have triggered the blaze.
The 150 room, suite, cottage and sea side villas resort is presently adding 28 garden and forest villas of 2 to 3 bedrooms each with their own pools, bringing the total number of rooms then available to 225, and also adding a 6thFusion restaurant. The Leopard Beach Resort and Spa has been consistently voted as Kenyas leading South Coast resort in both international and local selections and is a crowd favourite to many who appreciate that the Chui never looks tired or worn as is the case in many other resorts.
No one was injured in the fire and clearing up work has already commenced, again aided by the fact that the resort was closed at the time for its annual dose of adding sparkle back to it. Visit for more information and details, when available, on the projected re-opening.

Madagascar International Tourism Fair opened by Seychelles’ tourism minister Alain St. Ange

The Minister for Tourism and Culture of the Seychelles, Alain St. Ange, was invited by the Madagascar government as guest of honour to formally open the islands International Tourism Fair, as Madagascar is trying to re-emerge from the political cold it found itself in over political events 2 years ago.
St. Ange, in his usual engaging style, praised the cooperation between the Indian Ocean islands working hitherto hand in hand under the Vanilla Island marketing concept and made it clear that cooperation in todays economic climate was the sensible and logical choice for the islands instead of individually facing the same problems but without the safety net others could hold out.
Quoting in part from his address availed to this correspondent, Minister St. Ange said:
On behalf of President James Michel, the President of the Republic of Seychelles, the current President of the Indian Ocean Commission the message is to the you Minister Jean Max Rakotomamanjy, and to the exhibitors and friends of the tourism industry I simply say all the very best with the 2012 edition of the International Tourism Fair Madagascar 2012. Madagascar along with Seychelles, La Reunion, Mauritius, Mayotte and Comoros launched the Vanilla islands grouping because we all saw merit in unifying ourselves to get our region more visible and known. Today Madagascar is promoting a Tourism Fair for our Region and I stand here as a display of our support for the unity of our islands and for their effort in staging a event that can and that will bring visibility to our region, to the Vanilla islands. Seychelles is also doing the same through the annual Carnival International de Victoria which was co-hosted this year with La Reunion again in that same spirit of togetherness to get our region more known. We need all our islands to find a theme on which to stage a regional event which we can all support. We cannot be an island onto ourselves. We need each other, our region needs all of us and the Vanilla islands depends on unity of its six islands. It is with this frame of mind or mindset change needed in some cases that we will overcome the difficulties we are having to contend with because of the economic woes in our traditional main tourist markets. The policy of working in isolation and safeguarding only your little patch is no longer sustainable as a policy. The world is moving fast and as a Region we need to be on board, and we must ensure that we do not miss the boat. I am in Madagascar because we, in Seychelles, we believe that we need to show support for Madagascar in their endeavour to create a Tourism Fair for Magagascar. But also a tourism fair for the Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands expressing the position of both the Seychelles government and of his ministry in regard of cooperation within the Indian Ocean islands versus block headed competition of the 70s command economy style.
Notably was reference avoided to what must have been a trigger to some of these comments, the attempt by MTPSs Karl Mootoosamy to Copy and Paste Seychelles festival success in what has been largely perceived as the reaction of a bruised ego and a last ditch attempt to safe his own, under growing pressure, tenure some say has now become almost untenable.
Present at the fair opening were senior ministers from the Madagascar government and top diplomats, on whom St. Anges diplomatic side stepping of the issue they expected to be addressed were not lost. Present were the Madagascar Minister for Tourism, Mr Jean Max Rakotomamonjy, Mrs Elia Ravelomanantsoa, the Madagascar Minister for Culture, Dr Johanita Ndahimananjara, Madagascar Minister for Health, Mrs Lantotiana Rakotomavo, Vice President for Madagascar Superior Council for Transition, Eric Koller the President of the Office National du Tourisme de Madagascar and Vola Raveloson, the Director General of his Office, Frederic Pierret the Executive Director of the WTO among many national dignitaries and members of the Diplomatic Corps.
Watch this space as Madagascar is aiming to reclaim its position as a nature tourism destination with in particular their national parks and the various Lemur species attracting the most attention.

Tanzania’s tourism minister issues statement on Zanzibar situation

Tanzanias recently appointed Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism Khamis Kagesheki, yesterday issued his media statement to the situation on Zanzibar, where violence swept the old Stone Town on Friday and Saturday while other parts of the island came under siege on Monday, as suspects were produced in court and charged.
The statement, read out by Deputy Minister Lazaro Nyalandu, said in part: This was just an isolated incident that has been brought under control by government. There is peace in Zanzibar as we speak. There were no reports of destruction of hotels or attacks on tourists.
That part of the statement raised more than a few eyebrows as far from being isolated the same radical group was last year blamed for firebombing bars and restaurants as they oppose the selling of alcohol. The brought under control bit of the statement also evaded elegantly that it took security forces two days to quiet down the rioters in the old Stone Town and then faced another outbreak at a different part of the island as they were guarding the law courts en masse. Sections of stakeholders also mentioned to this correspondent that it was their direct action and communication amongst each other to keep the tourists in the resorts and bring back excursions already on the road when the news of the riots spread, nor did the statement admit that three churches were burnt, though indeed no tourism facility on this occasion.
Zanzibar, as has the entire Tanzania, were long an accepted role model for different religions living peacefully side by side in the spirit of tolerance and mutual respect and the burning of churches, intended by the radicals to set one religion against another, was widely condemned though Christian church leaders called for calm and urged their supporters not to be tempted by retaliation.
At least one senior stakeholder from Zanzibar in regular contact with this correspondent spoke of the sectors fear of future repeats and of tourism being targeted outright by the group for maximum impact, calling for much more stringent measures by security to ensure that there is continuous protection around resorts and tourism hotspots while also vowing to increase internal security measures to prevent any incidents happening inside resorts.
With the current low season in full swing the sector has not been overly busy but the media coverage of the incidents has thrown some clouds over the future.
The Minister was reportedly swift in blaming the international media for overstating the situation in Zanzibar but in turn must suffer the consequences for trying to downplay on the situation and conveniently leaving out of his statement past criminal incidents blamed on Uamsho, which leader by the way was arrested yesterday and charged with a range of offences. Mainland sources commended this move as the radical Islamic group is also reportedly working to undermine the union between Zanzibar and the mainland, seeking separation and the establishment of an Islamic hardline state, two scenarios which are vehemently opposed by the government of President Kikwete whose CCM ruling party had since independence been promoting unity and tolerance and in the past stepped down hard on dissent. Watch this space.

Kenya Airways postpones announcement of share rights issue, combines it with annual financial results publication


Regular sources were tightlipped at Kenya Airways head offices in Embakasi / Nairobi over the true reasons why the expected media announcement over the performance of the share rights issue was suddenly postponed by a week to 06th June. There is speculation in the market that the airlines financial advisory team is locked in talks with institutional investors from Kenya, the region and further abroad, to potentially absorb any share rights which may not have been taken up during the main sales period in April this year.
Launched with great fanfare and expectations, President Mwai Kibaki was Guest of Honour at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre in Nairobi for the function, there have been both expressions of hope for an oversubscription of the issue inspite of adverse market conditions with continuously high interest rates in Kenya, which made individual investors perhaps back away from this unique opportunity to outright skepticism if indeed the minimum success threshold of 70 percent take up would be significantly exceeded.
It is however understood from contact made in financial circles at the launch ceremony that an agreement has been reached to extend the deadline at which either an irrevocable bank guarantee or Letter of Commitment must be received by the airline for the take up of share rights, has been pushed to the 11th of June, while on the 06th of June, when the announcement of the share rights issue success will be made, the airline is also expected to announce their annual financial results in Nairobi at a major press conference.
The airlines information booklet issued at the start of the sale of the share rights, provides for other investors to take up more than their share or buy on the open market should unsold rights remain and it could be as much as 23 percent of those still seeking new owners according to one source demanding strict confidentiality, who claimed that the issue had reached a 77 percent success rate, 10 percent above the threshold set ahead of the exercise. The same source also insisted that the airline was close to concluding a deal with an international investment group but found itself out of time vis a vis the initially set announcement date of 30th May, much to the disappointment of the media and the financial markets which had keenly looked forward to this date.
On further investigation it was also learned that the trading date at the Nairobi Stock Exchange for the new shares, which was due to commence on June 14th, has subsequently also been pushed ahead to June 21st to cater for the negotiations to conclude.
Share values in Kenya Airways had at the crucial launch briefly gone below the 14 Kenya Shillings at which the rights were offered but have recovered significantly since then, spurred two weeks ago by the announcement that Virgin would withdraw from Kenya by September, leaving the hugely important route between Nairobi and London Heathrow to archrivals Kenya Airways and British Airways, although KQ is expected to absorb most of the 15 percent market share Virgin enjoyed until the announcement.
There is broad agreement that Kenya Airways shares will be a sound medium to long term investment and the growth plans of the airline include a huge fleet expansion from presently 35 aircraft to 119 aircraft by 2021/2 including dedicated cargo aircraft which would be needed to back up plans to fly to 115 destinations worldwide by then. The funds now raised by the share rights issue will be used to leverage the financing of new aircraft, pay commitment fees and in particular use up to 150 million US Dollars for the required payment to the US IMPEX Bank for guaranteeing the purchases the airline has pending already with Boeing and the added acquisitions needed to meet the 10 year targets as formulated under their new strategic Plan Mawingo.
Watch this space for regular and breaking news from East Africas vibrant aviation scene.

Air Seychelles to double flights to Johannesburg from early 2013 / Routes Africa 2012 update


Information has come to light that the Seychelles national airline intends to double their presently two flights per week between Mahe and Johannesburg to four from January next year, when more aircraft will have joined the fleet. Due to arrive first is an Airbus A330-200 to be followed by an Airbus A320, with a second A330-200 expected to join Air Seychelles either late in 2012 or first thing in the new year.
It could not be established if at that stage the route will be served with the A320 as currently the A330 is being used to fly to South Africa, an important market from the African mainland for the archipelago.

Meanwhile has Routes Africa announced that more airlines have signed up to participate in the event which this year will take place at the Kempinski Seychelles Resort on the main island of Mahe. Confirmed for the July 08th 10th the meeting is taking place alongside the meeting of the RETOSA Board, which brings together the Tourism Ministers of the SADC region. Airlines confirmed so far include even fast growing RwandAir, which is set to accelerate their planned network rollout with new destinations according to new General Manager Commercial Mr. Bert van der Stege, who however was not quite ready yet to spill the bean bag on where exactly they were planning to go next after revealing just 10 days ago that Mwanza, Tanzanias lake side city on Lake Victoria, would become destination 14 for them. Notably is Kenya Airways, aka The Pride of Africa still missing from the list as are a few others like Egypt Air, Air Uganda but also Air Mauritius.
The latter is thought to be kept out of the meeting over growing undercurrents seen in recent days since it became known that MTPA had done a Copy and Paste job on the Carnival International de Victoria, widely perceived as a doing the dirty backstabbing on the Seychelles, now making it nearly impossible to look them into the eye from anywhere close up.
South African Airways
Arik Air
Air Seychelles
Turkish Airlines
Qatar Airways
Mega Maldive Airlines
Nasair Eritrea
Astral Aviation
Saudi Arabian Airlines
Ethiopian Airlines
Zambezi Airlines
Expect updates in the run up to the Routes Africa 2012 Conference and on conference results and new deals struck.

Kenya tourism stakeholders meet Minister to discuss Monday incident and future strategy

Key stakeholders from the private and public sector as well as association leaders have stood up to be counted yesterday and condemned the criminal masterminds and perpetrators of the bombing of a shop on Moi Avenue, which injured according to the latest figures some 27 people, some still in critical but stable condition.
While in Kenya during the past two weeks it could be ascertained that the arrival numbers for Q1, compared with last years record breaking performance, reduced from 313.691 to 312.258, probably also still caused by events since August last year, which prompted a full scale military engagement from Kenyas armed forces against militant Islamist terror groups which previously roamed Southern Somalia at will and perpetrated a number of cross border attacks into Kenyan territory. With the Lamu anti travel advisories however largely lifted a few weeks ago, as was reported here, the mood of cautious confidence has been restored in the sector, though no one is happy with the governments reduction by 5 percent of the annual budget for tourism marketing, which after inflation has been factored in can amount to up to 20 percent less in real term spending power compared to 2011/12.
Senior association leaders have voiced critique and are said to be in talks with government over re-evaluating its position and add extra funds, especially now that the Nairobi incident of Monday will further impact on sectoral performance.
Said one regular and trusted source on phone before leaving Kenya yesterday: This blast, even so no one was killed, highlights our problems to provide universal full security everywhere at all times. Resorts, hotels, restaurants take it very seriously and you have seen the level of security in place at all the coast resorts, at the Nairobi hotels. Remember last we talked not one tourist visitor came to harm in 2008, not in any of the events since August but for the one foreign resident and the one couple shot and abducted from Kiwayu by foreign based intruders. When something happens in Kenya the foreign media often make us look like a hooligan country full of violence. Compare with the UK and their violent crime rate for instance. The foreign media all the time have a field day with us and I exclude you and because you always show the facts and not take that insane pleasure others do to bash us. But that apart, we have a struggle at hand in Kenya to match last years figures and will probably miss them by a bit. The other issue is that we really want to see a firm commitment to the March election dates for next year and not wake up one morning and it is December suddenly. We must be allowed to have the high season run uninterrupted and then have the elections fall into the low season period where it will do less impact. The biggest issues now are two, to have government commit more funds for marketing of tourism, start the construction of the Mombasa International Convention Centre and focus on market diversification and secondly we internally must work on product upgrading. When someone says some of the beach resorts are tired, it is true. We need innovation and changes. Over the past years we had one major new beach resort open, Swahili Beacb in Diani, but several others closed for various reason. One burns but is not rebuild, the others go into receivership and close and other pretend they renovate during the low season but close for lack of business. We have exceptions of course, you just saw some when you were in Mombasa last week, so you know which ones are doing ok but we as a sector must face up. Traffic in and out of Mombasa is a nightmare, traffic in and out of Nairobi especially from JKIA is a nightmare. The road to the Mara is a nightmare. So let us meet our challenges internally and gather our leaders and frankly talk about the tourism we want for the future and act on recommendations made there and let us find the funds to promote more, like Egypt and South Africa for instance. They are spending mega bucks for Egypt to recover from the revolution and South Africa has been spending on marketing since before the World Cup in 2010. If we in Kenya want to succeed, we must invest and invest wisely and a lot. I wish you could come over more often and talk to our associations and with KTB and share your experience because you travel all over the region, have worked in the sector and taught in the sector and we need such resource persons to set us on the right path.
It is understood that tourism minister Dan Mwaze did meet with tourism industry representatives yesterday in Nairobi to discuss the situation and what measures government could take in mitigating the effects but only time can tell what will actually be done as opposed what the industry wants to see done. Watch this space.

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