Weekly roundup of ACT News from Eastern Africa and the Indian Ocean Region, Third edition November 2013





A weekly roundup from Eastern Africa and the Indian Ocean islands of breaking news, reports, travel stories and opinions by Prof. Dr. Wolfgang H. Thome

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Third edition November 2013

Africa News


(Posted 14th November 2013)

The African Airline Association, in short AFRAA, based in Nairobi / Kenya, will hold their annual general assembly between the 24th to the 26th of November at the Diani Beach based Leisure Lodge Resort, in a departure from past practice where the meeting, when held in Kenya, would take place in Nairobi.

Coast hoteliers have appreciated this sign of support to the coast, which has not been doing very well of late in terms of occupancies, and the AFRAA meeting is therefore warmly welcomed by participating hotels and resorts like the award winning Leopard Beach Resort & Spa or the equally award winning Swahili Beach Hotel, besides the main conference venue at the Leisure Lodge.

Expect ‘live coverage’ from on site with insider details on aviation, emerging partnerships and cooperation and the usual JetA 1 ‘fumes’ i.e. gossip which makes the aviation sector the focus of many way beyond the core aviation fraternity. Visit www.afraa.org for more information on this most important African aviation private sector body in which literally all airlines worth their salt are coming together. Watch this space.

East Africa News


(Posted 14th November 2013)

Travel agents and travelers alike appear to be hugely impressed by the Emirates’ increased use of Airbus A380 aircraft to ever more destinations and for a growing number of frequencies, like from December onwards deploying the giant aircraft to Mauritius on one of their two daily flights.

Emirates has now announced, ahead of the Dubai Air Show, that Munich will get a second A380 frequency too, as constantly growing demand makes the B777 currently used for the second daily flight too small. This will add approximately a further 1.800 seats to the market for flights to Munich, one of if not the most sought after German city by visitors from around the world.

The aircraft used will feature 14 of Emirates’ award winning First Class Suites, a full complement of 76 Business Class seats and 399 seats in Economy Class with an overall capacity of 489 seats.

Travelers from across Eastern Africa, where Emirates serves Nairobi and Dar es Salaam twice and operates a daily service nonstop to Entebbe too, will now have more choices to try out the world’s largest and quietest passenger aircraft, and for those flying in First or Business Class out of Dubai to their final destination will be able to sample unequalled comfort and luxury some 39.000 feet above the ground. Hello Tomorrow!

Uganda News


(Posted 16th November 2013)

Uganda’s quasi national airline Air Uganda, in airline circles known as U7, has today reached a landmark 6 years in the skies over East Africa. The carrier now flies from Entebbe to Nairobi, Mombasa, Kigali, Bujumbura, Juba, Kilimanjaro, Dar es Salaam and Mogadishu and operates a fleet of 3 Bombardier CRJ200 aircraft in a 50 seat all economy version. Air Uganda is the only Ugandan airline designated by the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority to operate scheduled passenger services to neighbouring countries

While selfish ‘experts’, clearly with a hidden agenda of their own, have of late tried to push the idea of restarting Uganda Airlines, the national airline liquidated after accumulating massive losses, more foresighted individuals have advised the Ugandan government to rather take up the offer on the table by Air Uganda to invest and acquire a strategic shareholding, before at some time in the future the airline can go public with an IPO to spread ownership through the Uganda Securities Exchange.

Presently the airline is fully owned by the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development, in short AKFED through Meridiana Africa Airlines (Uganda) Limited.

For today though it is Happy Birthday and Happy Landings to the crews and passengers of Air Uganda.


(Posted 16th November 2013)

Almost unnoticed and certainly without much fanfare has the Mount Gahinga Lodge, located just outside the main park gate of the Mgahinga National Park, opened again earlier this month, reason enough to boost their re-entry into the Ugandan hospitality market. The lodge is not only a base for gorilla and golden monkey tracking on Mt. Gahinga’s Ugandan side or for hiking to the top of the volcano but has also established itself as a central point for visits to the Batwa communities living nearby.

Developed together with Volcanoes Safaris’ Partnership Trust (VSPT), the new interactive Batwa visit experiences provide guests with a rare opportunity to learn about the unique cultural heritage of the arguably oldest surviving peoples of the great Central African rainforest.
Aimed at giving the disenfranchised community an economic opportunity and reviving their cultural traditions, Volcanoes Safaris invites guests to experience different activities at the Mount Gahinga Lodge such as visits to the Cultural Heritage Site where Batwa community members demonstrate their traditions through interactive activities such as fire-making, setting traps and identifying and utilising the forest’s medicinal herbs.

A vocational centre nearby teaches Batwa women to learn skills such as sewing, basket weaving and craft making that will help them earn a living and train other members of the Batwa to also earn a livelihood.

Finally there is a new agricultural group which is open to guest visits where one can learn about farming on their land which the VSPt has allocated to the Batwa to practice sustainable farming and help foster independent livelihoods. This latest initiative follows the Volcanoes Great Ape ecotourism model, creating sensitive eco-tourism that is linked to conservation and communities, thereby creating an opportunity and generating an income for the Batwa. In early 2014 Volcanoes Safaris will be launching a campaign to raise funds to secure land for the Batwa as well as building a daycare centre for the Twa children. The VSPT welcomes donations on PayPal via the VSPT Facebook page and website for these activities.

For more information about this lodge and other Volcanoes properties in Uganda and Rwanda, visit their website via http://volcanoessafaris.com/lodges/mount-gahinga-lodge/?dm_i=6FF,1Y0Q1,8S3CHQ,6ZKLK,1


(Posted 13th November 2013)

Appalling road conditions following extended torrential rains have damaged and in part flooded sections of the Uganda to South Sudan highway in particular along the stretch between Atiak in Uganda and Nimule in South Sudan. Trucks are reportedly piling up some 30 kilometres towards the main town of Gulu in Northern Uganda and only a fraction of the usual traffic appears to be crossing the border right now, leaving South Sudan’s import needs short of supplies and already leading to price rises in South Sudan. It is estimated that at least three quarters of all imports into South Sudan arrive by road via the border post of Nimule between Uganda and South Sudan, with the road forming the biggest bottleneck so far for trade between the two countrier.

Busses carrying travellers from both directions too are said to be taking a lot longer to reach their destinations, leaving the only certain way of swift travel between Uganda and South Sudan to the daily connections by air, offered by Air Uganda’s two daily flights and the flights of South Supreme Airlines which only recently started operations out of Juba. A source close to Air Uganda has confirmed that demand for air travel between Entebbe and Juba remains high, perhaps reflecting the situation encountered by busses plying the route by the road.


(Posted 11th November 2013)

The Top 100 Awards for Small and Medium sized Enterprises, held last weekend at the Kampala Serena Conference Centre, saw several hospitality and tourism businesses make it into the top ranks and receive their awards from Vice President Sekandi and Finance Minister Maria Kiwanuka.

The Little Ritz Hotel came at a respectably 11th place – no tourism businesses made it into the top 10 – and the Mount Elgon Hotel & Spa ended up claiming 19th position. Great Lakes Safaris of immediate past UTA President Amos Wekesa came in 27th place, a major achievement for a safari operator to be listed in the top 100 SME businesses. The Sports View Hotel in Bweyogerere near the national stadium took position 44 while Cepha’s Inn ended in place 49. The Bunyonyi Overland Resort near the south western town of Kabale was listed in 61st position and Mbarara’s Lake View Resort came in 75th place followed close up by Asante Aviation in place 77. The Agip Motel, also based in Mbarara, took 86th place, ending the presence in the top 100 of tourism related enterprises.

A source close to the organizers, on request from this correspondent, said more tourism businesses should participate in the award scheme and list themselves, as many more names were visibly absent from the top 100 and yet were by general consent in the tourism industry deserving to be listed there too, but for lack of participation.

International audit and financial consultancy firm KPMG according to information received audited over 300 firms which had listed themselves and met the criteria of revenues between 360 million Uganda Shillings per annum to a ceiling of 25 billion Uganda Shillings. Participants had to submit at least the 3 past years of audited accounts to the vetting panel in order to be considered.

Well done to those companies from the hospitality and tourism industry which participated and did the sector proud.

Kenya News


(Posted 15th November 2013)

Two poachers ended up begin shot dead by police reservists working on the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, when they were pursued off the sprawling estate after what has been described as a ‘botched poaching incident’. The pair was apparently interrupted in their mission by the ever alert patrols who then pursued them before they got cornered and killed in a shootout near Matigari. An AK 47 assault rifle with ammunition was recovered from the scene which was secured and processed by regular police officers.

Rangers on Ol Pejeta are armed for their night patrols and when on rapid deployment after being enrolled in to the Kenya Police Reserve, which entitles them to not only carry arms but also engage criminals under the regular rules of engagement the Kenya Police works under.

The suspects had apparently tried to escape on a motorbike but failed to shake off their pursuers and then made the fatal mistake to engage the well trained rangers in a fire fight which they ended up losing. Only a few weeks ago was a similar incident taking place at the nearby Solio Conservancy where again one poacher was shot dead while his colleague managed to escape with gunshot injuries.

The sharp eyed surveillance on Ol Pejeta, as witnessed by this correspondent during a recent 5 day working visit, can only be commended and will be improved further when in a few weeks time a UAV will arrive to carry out aerial surveillance of known entry hot spots, which will then be able to direct ground personnel immediately on to sites where suspected poachers are trying to gain access into the conservancy. A full story on that new venture by the Ol Pejeta Conservancy will appear here when the drone has arrived and goes operational. Meanwhile thanks to the surveillance and security team on Ol Pejeta for once more putting their lives on the line in the protection of Kenya’s wildlife heritage. Visit www.olpejetaconservancy.org for more details on the work the conservancy does.


(Posted 15th November 2013)

The Nanyuki based Tropic Air, incidentally also the operators of the Nanyuki airstrip into which much of the traffic destined for Mt. Kenya and Ol Pejeta comes, has once again performed a miracle rescue when airlifting a British soldier from an elevation of 15.650 feet above sea level, an altitude reportedly never before reached for such a medivac operation in Kenya. The man suffered from high altitude illness and was in a bad shape when his comrades alerted their base which in turn then sent an emergency rescue request to Tropic Air.

(Both pictures courtesy of Tropic Air)

While the patient is reportedly recovering well back at base – the British Army maintains a significant number of troops in a training facility near Nanyuki which it operates with the full agreement of the Kenyan government – the pilot surely deserves a big pat on the back for the heroic flying after Tropic Air’s office got the emergency call relayed from high up the mountain.

Tropic Air is also part of the Laikipia Wildlife Forum and as such provides invaluable airborne rapid response services when poaching incidents are reported from the nearby conservancies. For this, I know from discussions with conservationists while on Ol Pejeta recently, they have the eternal gratitude of those involved in wildlife conservation and protection and my personal respect for the contribution they are making.

In recognition of their work, repeatedly mentioned here before, a little insight into their commercial air operation and a narrative of how their tailor made airsafaris, by fixed wing and helicopter, work out for visitors who want to explore Kenya in style: http://www.amagazine.com.au/travel/kenya-safari-air


(Posted 15th November 2013)

The countdown is now on as one of Kenya’s great heritage festivals, the Lamu Cultural Festival is exactly a week away. The focus during the 4 day long festival, from 21st to the 24th November inclusive, will be on the Swahili culture, poetry, song and dance, food of course not forgetting as visitors to Lamu can expect all the hotels and resort to lay on traditional cuisine menus and buffets, stimulating both minds and taste buds of those taking the long journey to one of Kenya’s hidden gems. In the programme are again dhow and donkey races, but also henna painting, something many lady visitors will want to experience and ‘take home’ with them, showing off the intricate forms and designs on legs, feet and hands.

Lamu, an ancient Swahili township, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and offers an insight of how life in the old days was, as little has changed in terms of architecture and lifestyle of the local population. Lamu is also one of the few places were the traditional dhows are still built by hand, using nothing but wood, rope and canvas to create those ancient sailing ships known for the triangular sails.

Daily flights from Nairobi’s Wilson Airport by www.FlySafarilink.com connect Lamu with the Kenyan capital and those who still make up their mind should rush as few seats are now left while hotel, resort and guest house spaces have almost sold out too.

In addition will daily bus services run from Mombasa and Malindi to Lamu to facilitate visitors who can either not afford the airfare or else find flights fully booked. The Festival is supported by the Kenya Tourism Board and the Lamu County Government and organized by the Lamu Cultural Promotion Group. Visit this website for more information: http://www.magicalkenya.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=176&Itemid=193


(Posted 15th November 2013)

Kenya Airways has strengthened their cooperation with KLM / Air France within East Africa, following the signing of a new and far more extensive joint venture agreement compared to the one presently in place.

The expanded joint venture will be a significant boost to the existing benefit-sharing model between the two carriers. This far reaching cooperation for both passenger and cargo business will allow KLM and Kenya Airways to jointly implement further commercial synergies, optimize networks and schedules to better jointly serve these markets and further enhance customer experience and travel options.

The expanded co-operation will be effective from January 1, 2014, and the two carriers will add four new routes to the present arrangement, increasing the total KLM – Kenya Airways joint venture flights to six routes.

The successful co-operation between KLM and Kenya Airways dates back to 1995. In 1997, they initiated a joint venture on the Amsterdam – Nairobi route, and in 2008 expanded the joint venture with the addition to flights between JKIA and Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, France. Currently, Kenya Airways and KLM operate a daily service between Amsterdam and the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. The three partner airlines, KQ, KLM and Air France jointly operate 19 weekly return flights between The Netherlands, France and Kenya.

From next year, the co-operation will be expanded through the addition of the London – Nairobi, Amsterdam –Entebbe / Kigali, Amsterdam – Lusaka and Harare and the Amsterdam-Kilimanjaro / Dar-es-Salam routes, the latter subject to pending regulatory approval. This will bring the total number of frequencies operated jointly by Kenya Airways and KLM / Air France to approximately 44 weekly flights with combined revenues exceeding US$500 million.

This enhanced co-operation is aimed at optimizing the longstanding relationship between the two airlines, with the ultimate objective of doubling the amount of frequencies between Europe and the East African continent.

Kenya Airways’ Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Titus Naikuni on the occasion of signing the new deal said: ‘I am proud of the longstanding and successful partnership between KLM and Kenya Airways, both as shareholders, and also business partners. We saw a tremendous development of our route network particularly in the early years of the Joint Venture by focusing our attention through only limited hubs in Europe, allowing our expansion in Africa. This next phase consolidates our capability to serve our guests across the region and into Europe and beyond’.

In his response did KLM’s Chief Operating Officer, Pieter Elbers, who signed the agreement for KLM / Air France add: ‘We are proud of this next milestone in our co-operation with our long time strategic partner Kenya Airways. This long anticipated expansion of the joint venture will enable us to take our co-operation to a new level. Furthermore this new step will provide our passengers with a more extensive network in this important part of the world’.

The KLM / Air France Group currently operates to 42 destinations in Africa, besides holding a 26.73 percent stake in Kenya Airways. The number of KLM destinations on the African continent has grown over the years, reaching 15 different key cities. Together with Kenya Airways a total of 43 destinations are being served between Eastern Africa and Europe making it one of the most complete networks into Africa by any of the three global airlines alliances. Watch this space for breaking and regular news from the Eastern African aviation scene.


(Posted 14th November 2013)

Open calls for the Kenyan government’s need to change direction and act to save the country’s struggling coast tourism industry are still few though a strong sentiment is building up over the lack of positive response to suggestions and demands made by the sector in recent weeks.

When our cabinet secretary speaks, we do not need more niceties and platitudes. We do not need more words about how well we are doing when we are doing very poorly now’ said a regular source from the Kenya coast when discussing the latest projections about job losses, potentially running into the thousands, should beach resorts and coastal hotels continue to suffer setbacks with low occupancies and significantly lower revenues compared to a year ago.

You were the first who clearly stated what should be done and a few have since then come out and also said what government has to do. We need more flights to Mombasa, scheduled and charters, because the present number of arrivals from abroad are not filling our beds. We need to drop those Visa fees for the time being like we did after the PEV in 2008 [post election violence] and truly, that official who mistreated you when you came for the Magical Kenya show should be sacked. We need to drop the biggest threat, the VAT on tourism services, because in the mid of our downturn we make ourselves even more expensive. THAT simply does not work very well, prejudice and poor perception about Kenya on one side and rising prices on the other. We need to allow the sector to access cheap loans to modernize their resorts because our international competition has not slept while we rested on our laurels. All those new parastatals should be brought under one tourism authority to cut down on administrative waste by duplicating all those administrative functions like Finance, HR, Admin and so forth. And frankly, President Kenyatta should divorce Tourism from East African Affairs and Commerce and form a strong ministry dealing with tourism, wildlife and environment because this set up we have does not work very well for our sector. We need a cabinet secretary who is solely mandated to look after this very crucial economic sector and not divide attention with other non related functions. The coast might be fully booked for Christmas and New Year but until then, and afterwards, the present booking trend is very alarming and we have not seen any light in our tunnel. Good words have been said but action is what is needed now. If tourism cannot perform better the entire economic growth plans of the Kenyatta government are coming into doubt because we were once the engine of growth and should be again, but not under the present impediments I just outlined’ mailed, texted and said in a phone conversation a regular coast based tourism stakeholder who had been at the forefront to lobby behind the scenes for a change in attitude by government.

Notably have now Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers officials at the coast started to speak out in defense of their industry and according to information received from a Mombasa based source has the chairman of the North Coast Chapter raised the spectrum when he outlined that up to 16.000 jobs were now at risk of being lost along the coast towards Malindi due to poor occupancies. ‘No hotel can stay open for very long with occupancies of 40 percent or below. First you delay paying staff and suppliers and then, when court action is threatened, you have no choice but to close down. We have seen resorts at the South Coast be closed and how many of them have made a comeback since? Once down you are most likely out for the count’ added the same source to provide further insight into the mechanics of low occupancies. It remains as usual to be seen, just how significant the impact of the present trend will be for coastal resorts and hotels but one thing is clear, that like in the past only decisive action and industry support can reverse this trend and bring about renewed growth for the sector. Watch this space.


(Posted 14th November 2013)

Now that the Board of Directors has officially confirmed the news, the story can also be told here after the ‘embargo’ period has effectively lapsed. Dr. Titus Naikuni, CEO of Kenya Airways and Managing Director of the Kenya Airways Group, is not going anywhere, not for another year anyway, as his contract has been extended by a further 12 months until the end of December next year.

It was also confirmed by a board source that the search for a successor has now commenced to ensure a smooth handover of responsibilities during a phase for Kenya’s national airline thought absolutely critical for the future development and in particular the rollout of ‘Plan Mawingo’ which will constitute the legacy of the Naikuni years at the helm of Kenya Airways.

The investors briefing yesterday in Nairobi indicated that the airline may return to profitability in the 2013/14 financial year, a development which will put smiles back on the faces of the shareholders who endured a bad year in 2012/13 but stuck to their shares knowing that this was to be a one off and that the medium to long term prospects of Kenya Airways were broadly judged as between good and very good.

Dr. Naikuni has during his years at the helm turned the fortunes of Kenya Airways from a continental ‘also be’ to a continental market leader, which saw a major rebranding of the airline and a sustained fleet renewal and expansion programme which has changed the face of KQ altogether. Now flying a fleet of 20 Embraer E 190 – the latest of these state of the art jets is due to be ferried from Brazil to Nairobi anytime from now – has this aircraft type replaced the ageing B737-300’s on most regional routes, across East Africa, to the Seychelles and in fact across much of the continent, with the larger B737-800NG’s now serving routes with higher density yet not enough demand yet to deploy wide bodied equipment.

Only two weeks ago did Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta publicly launch KQ’s latest long haul wide body ‘bird’, a Boeing B777-300ER which will in 5 days commence scheduled services three times a week nonstop from Nairobi to Guangzhou in China, offering 400 seats in two state of the art cabins, with 372 seats in a 3x3x3 configuration in economy class and 28 seats in a brand new business class section, featuring the latest flat bed seat technology.

For 2014, the airline expects to be the second in Africa after Ethiopian Airlines to receive the Boeing B787 Dreamliner – and conventional wisdom has it that KQ happily left the honours of being Africa’s launch airline for this aircraft to ET as a result of the teething problems this aircraft had in its early months after the commercial launch – when from March 2014 onwards a total of 6 of these most modern commercial aircraft in use will be delivered. Boeing is also due to deliver a further B737-800NG with their Sky Interior to Kenya Airways as will two more B777-300ER join the fleet next year, while the entire fleet of B767-300’s will be retired.

There are indications, that Kenya Airways is in negotiations with Boeing to add yet more of the B777-300ER’s to the fleet, beyond the three ordered (one already delivered) and it is also an open secret that Kenya Airways is looking at converting options for the B787 Dreamliner into added firm orders.

Plan Mawingo’ in its present format shows a fleet of 119 aircraft by the 2022/3 financial year, including several freighter aircraft, up from 45 aircraft in use right now, and a range of 115 destinations on all continents, up from 65 at present.

(Dr. Titus Naikuni seen here at the recent World Travel Award ceremony at the Safari Park Hotel in Nairobi after receiving the trophy for ‘Best African Business Class’ – and this correspondent invited on to the platform standing next to him)

All going well, and why should it not, will the remaining 13 ½ months at the helm of Kenya Airways give Dr. Naikuni the opportunity to not just maintain course but also see the number of aircraft rise to at least 50, given the arrival of 11 new aircraft and the retirement of up to 6, a landmark in the then 37 year long history of Kenya Airways and surely an accomplishment any CEO can happily retire with.

There has been plenty of speculation over Dr. Naikuni’s future, starting from last year when rumours were spread of him wanting to enter politics – perhaps premature by some years from close up observation – and it is an almost open secret that he was offered a cabinet position when the present government started taking shape, an opportunity he declined to stay in office at a time when the financial headlines were stark so as to steer the ship back into calmer waters and complete the job, not said verbatim by him but in several conversations clearly found to be a driving factor. With the speculation now over, fellow scribes who kept digging for information will now have their own confirmation and were also proven right, that their ‘but you must surely know’ was spot on, and yet, in the best tradition of observing an embargo request, the story was not broken until today. Watch this space for breaking and regular news from Eastern Africa’s exciting and vibrant aviation scene.


(Posted 14th November 2013)

Serena Hotels late yesterday confirmed that several name changes for their properties have been put into effect to better describe the location and put the names in line with recent developments.

The award winning Serena Beach Hotel & Spa now is the Serena Beach Resort & Spa, more fully reflecting the nature of this property which is located on Shanzu beach north of Mombasa. Another change came about when Serena signed a long term lease for the Sweet Waters Tented Camp on Ol Pejeta, a place just visited last week, which will now be known as the Sweetwaters Serena Camp, making it clear in which stable the camp now belongs.

Across the southern border in Tanzania four properties were renamed in this exercise. The Serena Mountain Village located outside Arusha near the Usa River is now the Lake Duluti Serena Hotel and the Selous Luxury Camp is now the Selous Serena Camp while sister property Mivumo River Lodge has been renamed as the Serena Mivumo River Lodge. Finally has the Zanzibar Serena Inn been given full recognition as what it truly is, the Zanzibar Serena Hotel.

Serena has this year during the World Travel Award Ceremony won the prize as Africa’s leading hotel brand, besides carrying away trophies for all their city hotels in East Africa, Nairobi, Kampala, Kigali and Dar es Salaamas best city hotels in those locations. Visit www.serenahotels.com or www.theserenaexperience.com for more information about this award winning hotel, resort and lodge / tented camp collection.


(Posted 13th November 2013)

Kenya Airways’ shares, trading at 10.50 level only recently, have made a strong showing by closing up at 13.45 Kenya Shillings on Tuesday, the highest the shares were traded in a year. This happened the day prior to the airline’s management making available the half year results, covering the period of April 01st to September 30th, which is due later this morning in Nairobi.

Last year did Kenya Airways launch a share rights issue, which while not fully subscribed nevertheless reached the minimum expectations, with a share going at 12.50 Kenya Shillings at the time, only to see share values then drop on the back of loss, largely as a result of sharply risen fuel costs as well as one off costs dealing with staff re-adjustments. Financial analysts from the Citi Group have already suggested that Kenya Airways may still write the current year’s bottom line in red but also mentioned that the losses compared to last year could be less than half in a marked improvement of financial performance.

In the next financial year 2014/15 significant cost savings are expected through the use of more modern aircraft as at least 6 Boeing B787 Dreamliners are due to join the fleet, finally replacing the aged fuel guzzling B767’s after Boeing delayed the delivery by several years due to production problems.

A 7.8 percent reduction in seat capacity offered on European routes and a reduction of nearly 28 percent to North Africa, mainly caused by turmoil in Egypt which saw flights suspended, has helped the airline to shed some of the cost burdens associated with routes performing below expectations, manifested earlier in the year when Rome was axed from the route network.

The new year high of the Kenya Airways’ shares shows a return of investor confidence in Kenya’s national airline which in 2014 will take delivery of at least 11 new planes in line with their ‘Plan Mawingo’, their 10 year strategy document launched last year outlining projected growth in destinations to 115 and fleet, including freighters, to 119 by 2022. Watch this space for the half year results just as soon as they have been released by the company’s top management in the investors briefing later in the morning.


(Posted 13th November 2013)

Good Afternoon,

As a worthy stakeholder and player of the hospitality industry, Slujan Events, organizer of the Kenya Hospitality Trade Fair 2013 and the Hotel Summit East Africa 2013 conference, is glad to share with you the KHTF 2013 Post-show report.

Our 2013 events posted very good reports from the larger hospitality industry. The premier trade fair attracted over 3,500 industry professionals with over 150 brands being showcased. The conference attracted 170 delegates drawn from East Africa and had a highly professional and international representation of 30 speakers. The enclosed report will give you a more detailed overview of the entire event, the visitors, their interests and expectations.

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With plans underway for KHTF 2014 & HOSEA 2014 which will take place from 14 – 16 May, 2014 , we are fast being acknowledged as a relevant and a most influential hospitality supply show in East Africa, and this is all thanks to you – our partner. As we look forward to another successful show in 2014, and as our valued partner, we are giving you main preference in the show.

Kindly CLICK HERE, to read the FULL REPORT.

We assure you that we will continue to support the industry on all levels – delivering business results and promoting East & Central Africa’s hospitality industry. We look forward to another successful show in 2014.


(Posted 12th November 2013)

A notice in the Kenya Gazette, the official government newpaper in which all legally required public notices are published, has raised speculation over the future of Jetlink once again. The airline has initially halted operations a year ago when falling foul of the Central Bank of South Sudan’s rogue behaviour of not permitting ticket sales proceeds to be repatriated, before creditors – after a period of patient waiting – then went to court demanding first for their payments with one creditor in particular even seeking a winding up of the company.

With over 2.5 million US Dollars tied up in South Sudan, a source close to Jetlink during a recent visit to Nairobi said on condition of anonymity: ‘Jetlink is not broke in the conventional sense, they are just not able to get their hands on a very big amount of money. If South Sudan would release those funds, and we are all wondering what motive a supposedly friendly country who is begging us Kenyans for membership in the EAC, all would be well and Jetlink could settle their dues and gradually resume operations’.

The gazette notice published last weekend has now confirmed that the dream of returning to the skies over Kenya and Eastern Africa is still alive with the owners, Captains Elly Aluvale and Kiran Patel, and that although talks with FastJet earlier this year have not yielded any results, the two have not given up hope that they will eventually resume operations, either under their own banner or in partnership with a potential investor.

Most creditors have accepted a swap of debts for equity to the tune of eventually holding 51 percent of the shares, but Finejet, an aviation fuel supplier, turned out to be the proverbial spoiler for that relaunch party as they insisted their winding up petition be granted, prompting some observers to suggest they have an agenda of their own beyond just recovering their outstanding dues.

The application Jetlink has filed seems aimed to keep alive their air services license – though their Air Operator Certification has lapsed and will have to be renewed in a full process of auditing by the KCAA ahead of a potential restart of operations – and covers domestic flights from Nairobi to such destinations like Malindi, Mombasa, Eldoret, Kisumu but also to such tourist hotspots like Lamu, Ukunda and the Masai Mara for both scheduled and non scheduled flights, including the uplift of underfloor cargo.

With both owners aviation veterans in Kenya, the odds are even when it comes to taking bets if Jetlink will resume flights in 2014 or else remain grounded and then be subject to court orders in regard to sale of assets, but as the earlier quoted source in Nairobi said, that remains to be seen.

Meanwhile are aviation pundits divided on the outcome of the application as well as the airline’s ability to return to the skies, as most of their parked aircraft will require maintenance to retain or restore airworthiness, as many maintenance intervals either depend on hours flown or else time elapsed since the last mandatory A, B or C check.

Watch this space for breaking and regular news from Eastern Africa’s vibrant aviation scene.


(Posted 11th November 2013)

Kenya Airways’ performance during the second quarter of the year was ever so slightly down from a year ago, largely centred around a 7.8 percent capacity reduction on routes to Europe, where for instance the daylight flights to London were halted until demand justifies their re-introduction.

North African destinations saw a decline in capacity by nearly 28 percent, mainly as a result of the turmoil in Egypt which depressed demand and led to a suspension of services until the political situation has stabilized again.

The introduction of a third daily flight to Juba helped to cushion that capacity decline as South Sudan is geographically bundled with the airline’s North African destinations, a remnant from the days of the united Sudan, something which however is soon to change should South Sudan stay on course to join the East African Community.

Overall passengers carried in Q2 were 500.117, a decline of 2.4 percent compared to a capacity reduction of 8 percent, due to reasons explained.

On the upside will nonstop flights to Guangzhou commence on November 19th, initially 3 times a week with 4 more flights routing via Bangkok. The B777-300ER will make her commercial maiden flights on that day and the improved cabin comfort will no doubt be taken up by the market in both Africa – for passengers to China – as well as in China itself from where increasing numbers of travelers fly with Kenya Airways to Nairobi and beyond.

Meanwhile has Kenya Airways been named as the most punctual airline in London Heathrow, with all departures in October on time and only 10 percent of the incoming flights slightly delayed. This compares to an overall statistic of 75 percent of departures and 71 percent of arrivals being on time. Kenya Airways outranked other leading African airlines by a wide margin as Air Mauritius ranked 27th, South African Airways ranked on place 33 in terms of punctuality, Ethiopian came in as number 44 and Egypt Air was places in 78th place.

A full Q2 financial and operational report should be available in due course and interesting and relevant details will be shared right here of course.


(Posted 11th November 2013)

Last week’s meeting of Kenya’s cabinet reportedly approved a range of private public partnership projects, among them one which has in the past featured here regularly, the Nairobi commuter rail project. This crucial project to improve the traffic situation in Nairobi was handed a 16 billion Kenya Shillings [equivalent of 200 million US Dollars) boost in order to get it off the ground
on the fast track. Sections of the commuter line are already in operation but
the focus will now centre around linking the Jomo Kenyatta International
Airport with the city centre and widen the network to outlying areas around the
capital to offer reliable rail services and help decongest the city’s daily traffic
nightmare. Due to lack of sufficient funds were until now only 4 commuter
stations opened on the line from Syokimau from an envisaged 26 in phase one.

recent passing of the Private Public Partnership bill into law has paved the
way for the private sector to legally come on board of such major
infrastructure projects, like the commuter railway but also toll roads among

with plans by the Kenya National Highway Authority, to complete the Southern
bypass, cross city highway connections already at an advanced stage of
construction and commence work on the proposed ‘double decker highway’ across the city from Mombasa road along
Uhuru Highway, Waiyaki Way and beyond to the Western outskirts of the city,
these grand plans are bound to transform Kenya’s capital into a 21st
century city.

complete outlying municipalities closely linked to the greater Nairobi
metropolitan area like Athi River, Thika – including the settlements along the
Thika highway, Rongai, Kikuyu and others are due to be connected to the city by
commuter rail. It could not be ascertained however when bids for the PPP will
be invited though the time frame is expected to be narrow and from other
information at hand it appears that main public project promoter Kenya Railways
Corporation has been standing by to select a suitable and financially capable
partner for some time now. Watch this space for regular and breaking news
updates from around Eastern Africa.


Tanzania News


16th November 2013)

you are not scared to have tropical fish and perhaps even sharks peep through
your bedroom window, 4 metres under the surface of the Indian Ocean, then this
unique underwater room of The Manta Resort on the Zanzibari
island of Pemba is surely making its way on to the proverbial bucket list of
places to visit and stay at. Accessible by boat from the shore of the main
resort, those privileged to stay for a night or more will be treated to the
spectacle of marine life from the reef below, at day illuminated by the
sunlight shining through the water and at night through spotlights which shows
the guests who and what is lurking out there in the waters around them.

unique room was designed by Swede Mikael Genberg who opened the first of such
experimental rooms in the year 2000 on a lake near Stockholm. The idea, though
followed through in other parts of the world like Florida and the Maldives, has
not before been seen anywhere on the African continent and Pemba can rightly
claim an African first for the launch of such a novel idea.

is renowned for some of Tanzania’s best diving spots and while generally
quieter than the main Zanzibari island of Unguja, it is also a destination with
much lesser tourist numbers probably due to the added time it takes to get there
and the added cost of flying to Pemba, or taking a boat from Unguja or the
mainland. Those visiting however have put up great reviews on TripAdvisor,
suggesting that together with the equally if not even more remote Mafia Island
this is a secret tip for an absolute dream holiday on a tropical island.

www.themantaresort.com for more
information on how to get to Pemba from the Tanzanian mainland, for bookings
and tariff details. However, a stay in the underwater bedroom is NOT for the
faint of heart for sure.



15th November 2013)

has climbed to the top of the economic performance scale in Tanzania,
outstripping all other sectors including gold mining which had claimed top spot
a year ago amid record high gold prices at the time.

Bank of Tanzania earlier in the week released data for the period October 2012
to September 2013, which shows an increase in tourism earnings from 1.61
billion US Dollars to 1.82 billion US Dollars.

tourism stakeholders broadly welcomed the news, some also immediately suggested
that the Tanzanian government better wake up to this new reality and facilitate
the sector better compared to the past. ‘This performance, which has been long in
coming, must now translate in to greater political clout of the sector in day
to day politics. For one the government should provide greater funding to a
sector which is performing so well to make it perform even better. More money
for tourism promotion is however just one area where there is now need for
action. We also require greater sensitivity by our government to the impact of
several negative factors. Tanzania has always been a land known for
conservation and the present poaching situation, which is completely out of
hand and has been so without any serious government intervention until very
very recently, is giving us negative publicity around the world. If this
continues the trend of more visitors can easily end abruptly unless we finally
do something about it. Tanzania has been singled out as the country where the
most elephant are poached in the world and the confiscation of ivory in
Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam are evidence that not all is well. Besides poaching
our government also needs to refrain from causing international controversy and
outrage over such shortsighted projects like soda ash farming at Lake Natron,
the Serengeti highway, the Mwambani port and the tinkering with the Selous.
Destroying that fragile habitat with Uranium mining and hydro electric plants
is not in the best interest of our sector. Let them bring back the application
to have the Eastern Arc Mountains be recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage
Site, that would go a long way to reassure our future visitors that they are
truly coming to the land of the Serengeti and Ngorongoro and those sites are
protected and not ransacked by short sighted greed
’ said a regular
source from Arusha when discussing the good news on tourism sterling

have senior stakeholders across the border in Kenya pointed at the Tanzanian
performance and used it in a campaign gathering swift momentum to have their
own government finally take decisive action to support the sector, which in
particular at the coast is suffering from poor occupancies. ‘If
Tanzania can overtake us just like that and become the regional tourism power
house we obviously have not done our homework. Maybe our government now wakes
up from their dreamland and sees reality as it is. Our officials are portraying
the sectoral performance in a light which in reality is very dim. At the risk
of repeating myself, you have outlined many action points which can and should
be taken up. Let them start by dropping that silly VAT issue which has in the
face of eroding market confidence added a great deal of extra cost to holiday
packages to Kenya. KTB deserves a big fat cheque to blitz our overseas markets
like we did in 2008 and 2009. Balala then knew what was needed but we are
starting to wonder if our present political leadership understands what for him
was obvious. He knows the coast and he knows how quickly things can
deteriorate. We need to give airlines incentives to fly to Mombasa, and truly
Kenya Airways should consider routing some of their European flights onto or
via Mombasa. There are whispers that their forecast bookings are down by up to
20 percent on the Nairobi to Mombasa route and if true that would be another
blow for coast tourism. I admit that our coast resorts, many of them anyway,
have for too long just raked in money and not invested but now is the time to
do so. Now that our brothers in Tanzania have overtaken us at high speed, that
should be our wake up call to do something about it and return the favour.
Competition in the region is good because it will improve service levels and we
are after all one region in Africa which has the best attractions spread over
the 5 member states of EAC. But does anyone listen? I still hope that we can
have a national dialogue going very soon because along the Magical Kenya Travel
Expo these crucial issues were not addressed; perhaps because we had too many
international buyers around and did not want to air our challenges while they
were here. Let us use the review of WTM performance and impact to add that
element of a national private public sector workshop to collect views and
suggestions and then bring it to government for implementation
’ said
and wrote a regular Nairobi based source with decades of experience in the

on both sides of the border, in Tanzania with worries over the future of
tourism and the impact on the sector’s performance over poaching and projects
threatening the very fabric of the country’s conservation concept of old and in
Kenya, where some now say the abyss is so deep that they cannot see the bottom
any longer. Watch this space for future updates on the performance of the
tourism industry in the East African region.



14th November 2013)

announced earlier this week by Tanzania’s Transport Minister Dr. Harrison
Mwakyembe, that the government was to construct two railway lines anew, the
Tanga Musoma line and the Southern line, along a full refurbishment and upgrade
to standard gauge measures of the Central line, were met with skepticism by
economic observers.

the Southern line will meet a number of criteria to connect the town of Mtwara,
now best known for the discovery of vast gas fields offshore,  with the vast interior spaces of East
Africa’s largest country, so will the refurbishment of the Central line be in
line with major transport infrastructure upgrades, similar to the
rehabilitation soon going underway of the TAZARA Railway, which links Dar es
Salaam with Zambia.

the planned 3.6 billion US Dollar Tanga to Musoma line has come under serious
doubts now as it was a link to create an alternative railway corridor from
Uganda’s Port Bell via a still to be constructed new port in Musoma – linked by
rail ferry – and on to an equally newly constructed port at Mwambani, at the
dead centre of the Coelacanth Marine National Park in Tanga.

by the noises coming out of Dar it seems that finally common sense has taken
root again. They are now focusing on the improvement, modernization and
expansion of Tanga port, which is very much underutilized as it is, rather than
getting into another huge global controversy about destroying the Coelacanth
habitat. In any case, Mwambani is far too shallow for a port and therefore far
too costly to construct whereas Tanga has already infrastructure like roads in
place. It also has the option to add more deep sea berths with a fraction of
the cost of building Mwambani just a few kilometres down the coastline. I also
think that Tanzania’s isolationism in the EAC has cooled the desire by Uganda
to invest so heavily in a railway line to Musoma when they have just committed
to the cofunding of the standard gauge line from the Kenyan border to Kampala
and on to the Rwanda border. And there is also a problem for the Central line
extension to Rwanda from Isaka. The political ice age between Kigali and Dar es
Salaam has most likely scuttled that plan and all because someone I shall not
name has shot off his mouth uncontrolled over Rwanda’s most sensitive issue,
their fight with the genocidaires still holed up in Congo. They can never
negotiate with those guys like the Jews could never negotiate with Hitler. It
is total elimination as the only option for Rwanda to see those enemies
destroyed, arrested, prosecuted and jailed. We in Tanzania have done ourselves
a big disservice in alienating our EAC partners to such an extent that they had
to form their own league and develop infrastructure. Let no one be fooled what
some media sections said about Dar being bolstered by their so called victory
in Eastern Congo. That has only added more ice on to the layers in relations
with Uganda and Rwanda and the repercussions will be long and costly for us. If
our forces had been part to eliminate the FDLR first, that would have won us
hearts and minds in Rwanda and Uganda but going after M23 first was again a
tactical mistake of the highest order and only to please the regime in Kinshasa
which has been tolerating and hosting the FDLR since 1994 with not one
significant effort to rout them and bring them to justice. We in Tanzania got
lured into that power game and will be the losers for it.

Yes, the Southern line construction and the Central
line refurbishment will be a huge boost for trade and travel within Tanzania,
and so will the rehabilitation of the TAZARA Railway but those other plans,
Tanga to Musoma and Isaka to the Rwanda border, I am no longer sure. A Rwandan
economics colleague told me tongue in cheek that they would not be part of it
much longer as Tanzania would very likely only use that railway to deport more
Rwandans, so you can see what sentiments recent actions by our government has

said and wrote a regular source from Dar es Salaam, clearly on condition of
strict anonymity for the opinions voiced which would be a recipe for trouble
considering the often harshly repressive reactions of the Tanzanian government
over such open dissent and alternative opinions. An interesting analysis though
from someone always close up to the economic developments in Tanzania, and as
always, time will tell which of the new rail lines can be financed and which
will be built, today in line with viability and no longer as a white elephant.
Watch this space.



14th November 2013)

Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Ambassador Khamis Kagesheki, was
swift to drop whatever he was doing yesterday to travel to Zanzibar’s main
island of Unguja when news broke that a container load of blood ivory had been
seized by authorities at port. The find comes only a day after Tanzania’s
tourism industry, through the Tourism Confederation of Tanzania, had demanded
that government immediately resume ‘Operation Tokomeza’ though privately
key stakeholders did admit that a change of focus of the operations on the
ground was urgently required to target the main poaching areas in the Selous
and Ruaha National Park and shift attention from pastoralists – who by and
large coexist with wildlife – to the commercial poaching gangs, their
financiers and the middle men who facilitate shipments like the one now

days prior had President Kikwete addressed parliament in Dodoma on this issue
and defended the operation as necessary though ineptly handled and conservation
and tourism sources now hope for a swift resumption of the  operation without any delays, though under
closer guidance from tourism minister Kagesheki, who enjoys wide support and
respect for his general no nonsense approach to lazy and corrupt officials.

specific details could be obtained inspite of ongoing efforts to obtain the
number of tusks or the overall weight of the shipment, but the last major one
seized in 2011 – since then small finds had been made – contained over 1.000
tusks representing over 500 slaughtered elephant. ‘This find is evidence enough, as
if we needed any more evidence, that Tokomeza must continue immediately. You
are right when you write about the need to shift focus and hit the gangs and
not the Masai herders, for them another solution must be found but they are
part and parcel of the Serengeti and Ngorongoro and have been treated abysmally
in the early stages of anti poaching operations. I think some officials just
let their own grudges and frustrations take over and those need to be punished.
But with the right direction of this operation, much can be accomplished and if
President Kikwete is good for his word, then the war on poaching can finally
begin for real
’ wrote a regular Arusha based conservation source when
sending the details of the ivory seizure late yesterday.

has in the past been named as one country with the arguably worst poaching
record and an estimated loss of more than 10.000 elephant a year, a dark spot
on the reputation of a country which under founder president Julius Mwalimu
Nyerere was a solid rock for nature conservation and the protection of the
environment. Watch this space.



13th November 2013)

new domestic route from Dar es Salaam to Mbeya has quickly established itself
it seems as demand for seats has already outstripped the available capacity
after the route was launched just two weeks ago.

24th of November will a Sunday flight be added, up from initially
three flights per week to four and according to information received will a
further three flights be added come December 17th in time for the
festive season, by then providing a daily departure to Mbeya.

The airline’s Chief
Commercial Officer Richard Bodin was quoted in a media release, having said: ‘We
are thrilled with the response to the launch of the Dar es Salaam to Mbeya
route.  Although we knew demand for the route was likely to be high,
initial passenger numbers have certainly exceeded expectations.  We are
delighted to be able to once again meet our customers' needs and add more
capacity to this popular route

Additional information
received also talks of added flights from Dar es Salaam to Johannesburg, where
the airline launched three weekly flights in October on their first
international route. Here Richard Bodin commented: ‘We are seeing solid demand for
our recently launched international route from Dar es Salaam to Johannesburg
and are currently looking at increasing capacity on this route

A regular source in Dar es
Salaam has also confirmed that the load factor on the flights by South African
Airways has significantly reduced, probably as a result of the alleged
machinations used by SAA to keep FastJet off the route for some more time when
the South African Department for Civil Aviation stopped FastJet on the eve of
the initially announced launch date and required suddenly more documents, a move
widely seen as protectionist and blatantly biased in favour of their own
national airline. Said the source in a mail communication: ‘Let
them get a taste of their own medicine now. They messed with us for long enough
through over priced tickets and poor customer service because they knew we had
no choice. Now the trend has reversed. From where we stand FastJet will soon
have to go daily and then SAA will see the full impact of their monopolistic
behaviour in the past. It is payback time
’. Harsh words for sure but
from all indications representative of the mood among travel agents and
frequent flyers from Tanzania. Watch this space for breaking and regular news
updates about Eastern Africa’s aviation sector.



12th November 2013)

In news just
in has the Tourism Confederation of Tanzania, the apex body of all tourism
sectoral associations, issued a statement in regard of plans by the Tanzanian
government to halt the current anti poaching operation due to concerns over
human rights abuses and misdirected focus and instead intensify the campaign
and not give the commercial poaching syndicates a break which can be used to
kill yet more elephant. This has been reported here in length already and while
a level of misdirection was evident, as admitted also by President Jakaya
Kikwete in his address to parliament last week, concerns have been expressed
that this could have been engineered by powerful interests involved in poaching
to gain time and regroup and reorganized themselves. The demand by the
country’s tourism apex body is therefore not coming unexpected and it is
anticipated that the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Ambassador
Khamis Kagesheki, will take that message on board when deciding on the way

The full statement is shown


TOURISM Confederation of Tanzania (TCT),
a tourism private sector
body, has appealed to the government to reconsider its decision to
suspend indefinitely the anti-poaching campaign, Operation Terminate
(Operation Tokomeza) on grounds of human rights abuse and violation.
A statement issued by TCT in Arusha further beseeched the government
to continue with the operation.
"It is the position of TCT that the suspension of the operation will
only aggravate the situation by giving poachers and their sponsors
more time to reorganize and plan for some new strategies that may have
devastating effects on the remaining elephant herds in the
wilderness," read part of the statement.
Tanzania's tourism strength, it said, emanates from its staggering
range of wildlife, excellent species diversity, and evocative acacia
and baobab studded landscapes which makes the country one of the
greatest safari destination.
The Netherlands based "
safaribookings.com's" research (2013) has

concluded that Tanzania is the best Safari Destination in Africa.
In terms of natural resources, the annual World Economic Forum
Competitiveness Study for Travel and Tourism (2011) rated Tanzania
second position in the World after Brazil.
Tanzania is also regarded as the last frontier of the worlds' largest
parks allowing free grazing of wildlife. According to the statement,
allowing the continued systematic slaughter of our wildlife through
poaching, elephants in particular, will completely undermine the
competitive advantage that Tanzania has on world tourism.
"TCT therefore strongly urges the government to reconsider its
decision to halt this anti-poaching campaign," the statement added.
The statement further said that the campaign had already recorded
tremendous success.
"In the last two months alone, it was able to recover thousands of
elephant tusks (ivory), arrested over 1,400 poachers, along with
hundreds of illegal firearms including muzzle loaders and 1,400 rounds
of ammunitions.
This is a very positive move which both the government and the people
are proud of," the statement noted. TCT is definitely cognizant of the
abuses that have happened in the course of administering this campaign
and in no way supports this whatsoever, it partly read.
"TCT therefore commends the government for forming a probe team to
look into this serious matter. Our recommendation however is that, in
the interest of tourism, we urge the government to continue with the
operation and at the same time, in the interest of good governance and
upholding of human rights principles, the government continues with
the probe. Both issues can be handled and addressed simultaneously,"
the statement further said.
TCT is an umbrella organization representing tourism private business
sector involved in travel and tourism.
The organisation's current members include Tanzania Association of
Travel Agents (TASOTA), Tanzania Air Operators Association (TAOA),
Hotels Association of Tanzania (HAT), Intra-African Travel and Tourism
Association (ITTA) and Tanzania Hunting Operators Association (TAHOA).
Others are Tanzania Professional Hunters Association (TPHA), Tanzania
Tour Guides Association (TTGA), Zanzibar Association of Tourism
Investors (ZATI), Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO) and
Tourism and Hospitality Professionals Association of Tanzania (THPAT).
Richard O Rugimbana
Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania


Rwanda News


12th November 2013)


leading magazine, the ServiceMag has just invited for
votes from the general public to establish the best and the worst service
providers for 2013, something which predictably is causing unease if not
outright tension in the office suites of Rwanda’s corporations and businesses.

can now be cast online via the following link, making the process all but
incorruptible and giving those pleased with the services they got during the
past year, but also those who are fed up to the teeth with the shabby treatment
they may have received from their own service providers during the past year,
the great opportunity to pass judgment and either award or else punish with
their votes.

is the link to vote:



survey will end on the 06th of December and the audited results will
be announced in January next year, giving the winners a full year to enjoy
their status and repeat their accomplishments while those named as among the
worst will have a year of regrets ahead of them, but also time to mend their
ways and improve their standings with their clients and general public to do
better when the next, the 3rd survey is carried out in 12 months

done for this initiative to the management and staff of the ServiceMag
for this effort to recognize and award excellence and to ‘out’ bad practice and
poor customer care. Watch this space.



11th November 2013)

RwandAir’s latest initiative, aimed to be more user friendly yet, has flight
tracking now become available to allow those expecting passengers to arrive in
Kigali or one of the 14 other destinations the airline flies to be at the
airport right on time without wasting any waiting time.

first step is to use Google Search and entering RwandAir, RwandAir Schedule or
RwandAir Contact and then move on to enter the respective flight number in the
search box’ which will then permit
to see the flight status and location of the particular service one searches

is already one of the region’s most e-savvy in the business, largely as a result
of Rwanda’s commitment to connect the country, make people computer literate
and become Eastern and Central Africa’s main ICT hub and this latest move will
only serve to make the airlines an even greater favourite with frequent flyers
to and from Kigali and beyond. Watch this space for regular news updates from
East Africa’s aviation scene.


Ethiopia News


15th November 2013)

today will the first nonstop service between Addis Ababa and Toronto in Canada
take off, using one of the airline’s B787 Dreamliners, an aircraft capable of
carrying a full load without a fuel stop enroute between the two cities. Until
now had Ethiopian Airlines operated the route using a B767-300 aircraft which
required a stopover in Rome, adding travel time and the cost of landing at an
intermediate waypoint from where ET did not have traffic rights to uplift
passengers, or cargo, on to or from Toronto.

will initially be three flights per week, connecting one of Canada’s greatest
cities with the African continent and making travel to and from easier, as
passengers have seamless connections out of Addis Ababa into Eastern Africa and
to the rest of the continent. Happy Landings to crews and passengers for the
inaugural nonstop flight.

a related development has Ethiopian Airlines also confirmed that they will
commence direct flights to Singapore, after twice postponing the start, on
December 03rd. This flight will be operated with B767 equipment
which requires a tech stop for refueling along the way in Suvarnabhumi.

presently flies from Addis to Entebbe, Kigali, Kilimanjaro and Mombasa
combined, Nairobi and Dar  es Salaam,
offering travelers from Canada and the rest of the world convenient one stop
connections to the beach and safari destinations across Eastern Africa. On
these services ET uses a combination of B737-800 and Bombardier Q400 aircraft.
Watch this space for breaking and regular aviation news.


Sudan News


11th November 2013)

late last year Kenya’s Jetlink halted operations over South Sudan’s refusal to
approve the internationally agreed remittance of ticket sales from Juba to
Nairobi, the extent of the financial cost of the ongoing hostilities between
the South and Khartoum Sudan became very apparent, not that other Ugandan and
Kenyan companies had already felt the pinch when their invoices went unpaid.

cost of military operations by the regime in Khartoum has become financially
unsustainable and yet continue unabated in Darfur as well as the three
territories also seeking to join South Sudan, namely Abyei, South Kordofan and
Blue Nile. Drained of much needed cash has the regime in recent months reduced
subsidies for fuel and other essential items, leading to wide spread protests
and the habitual harsh reaction from the regime, killing scores of people and
raising anti government sentiments across society.

some Arab countries, and reportedly Iran too, continue to pour money into the
all but failed state, this does not reach those most in need of it, the
business community which has since the independence of South Sudan, taking over
80 percent of the oil resources with them, suffered from contractions and had
to shed a large number of jobs.

in the North Sudan had, like carriers operating into South Sudan, made
countless representations to the regime but to no avail, and KLM’s withdrawal
from the Khartoum route earlier this year was setting the tone for more of the
same to come. Now Germany’s Lufthansa has announced that they will halt flights
into Khartoum, as a result of the country’s weak economy and constant troubles
to get their money out as the Central Bank in Khartoum has literally ran out of
hard currency.

is thought that some of the remaining airlines may also withdraw with Turkish
notably the last of the non Gulf or African airlines, though the Gulf carriers
will probably stay, ‘encouraged’ by
their own governments. They are likely to take advantage of a market bare of
much remaining quality competition and any of their losses are likely to be
underwritten by their own governments as a ‘political
’ which incomprehensibly still support a murderous regime whose
leadership is wanted by the ICC over allegations of crimes against humanity and
war crimes they committed in the past and continue to commit.

from Khartoum to Juba are now only operated by South Supreme, a recent upstart
based in Juba, as the one remaining carrier from north Sudan, Marsland
Aviation, ceased operations last week due to lack of spare parts and hard
currency to maintain their aircraft fleet. Tickets in Khartoum are sold in
Sudanese Pound currency but must be converted into US Dollars to be repatriated
by the airlines but as the country is now literally broke, there seems no way
out of it while the regime’s military adventurism continues.

this space for breaking and regular news from Eastern Africa’s aviation scene.


South Sudan News


14th November 2013)

the devaluation of the currency in Khartoum Sudan the day before yesterday has
the Central Bank of South Sudan equally dropped the value of the South Sudan
Pound by 35 percent, delivering an inflation boost and economic shock to the
economy of this emerging nation. Like in the north where the devaluation was
about 23 percent, in the south too has the black market of US Dollar versus the
Pound immediately escalated further down, with a source in Juba quoting that
the rate now stood at between 5 and 6 Pounds to the greenback, due to stabilize
after the initial volatility following the devaluation has worn off.

members of parliament were also quoted to have demanded that the Central Bank
in Juba reverse this decision as the cost of all imports will now
correspondingly rise by 35 percent too, which is likely to affect the trade
with Uganda and Kenya in the short run considerably, as it will affect travel
as ticket prices too will – at least in local currency – rise by more than a

any significant numbers of tourists coming to South Sudan, which they are not,
they could in part at least benefit from the devaluation as they now get 4.5
South Sudan Pound for one of their Dollars as compared to 3.15 Sudanese Pounds
prior to the announcement.

Sudan has undergone an austerity period following the decision last year to
stop exporting oil through the north Sudan controlled pipeline to Port Sudan,
as allegations flew high and low over the unashamed wholesome theft of oil by
the Khartoum regime and outrageous oil transit fees. When eventually oil
production and sale of crude resumed the regime in the north threatened to halt
all exports over their contention that the government in Juba was extending
support to rebels in key border states like Blue Nile and South Kordofan, to
compel Juba into submission and to renounce any such  support, something the government in the
South continues to deny.

devaluation is therefore just the latest blow to the struggling economy of
South Sudan and will lend critics of a fast tracked ascension of South Sudan to
the East African Community more ammunition, as a free currency regime is a
mandatory requirement of harmonization before any country can join the trade
bloc made up of Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi. Watch this space
as more information from South Sudan becomes available. This action was reversed the following day
after the parliament of South Sudan issued a directive to the Central Bank of
South Sudan to rescind their decision and restore the previous official
exchange rates, however the black market rate has remained at a level
reflecting the downsized value of the South Sudan Pound.


Madagascar News


11th November 2013)

long awaited presidential elections in Madagascar produced no final result
during round one of the voting, as no candidate attained the necessary number
of votes to be declared the outright winner. A runoff election, closely
monitored once again by the African Union, will therefore have to take place in
early December and campaigning will continue until then.

took the electoral commission two weeks since voting day to declare provisional
results after 99.9 percent of the voting stations had been tallied in a process
termed as largely free and fair by election observers, which came mostly from
member countries of the African Union but also from Europe and beyond.

has the stage been set to the two main rival political camps to face off once
again, as the candidate backed by ousted former president Marc Ravalomanana
achieved 21.1 percent of the vote while coup leader and self styled president
Rajoelina’s man could in contrast only muster 15.9 percent of the votes cast.

coming weeks are expected to see major wheeling dealing going on to have the
other candidates urge their voters to back a particular candidate, who should
then be able to usher in a renewed period of calm political waters for the
world’s largest island. Independent observers fear that should Ravalomanana’s
candidate win the military needs to be watched closely as they had allied
themselves with coup leader Rajoelina and may still cause trouble.

had suffered severe sanctions from AU and Europe, which impacted on the flow of
tourists to the island where Nose Bay and the main national parks are the key
attractions for visitors. Only recently did a frenzied mob on Nose Bay set two
tourists alight over allegations of them having murdered a young boy, but those
claims have since then long been dismissed by local authorities who in turn
arrested a number of suspects who are now facing a murder trial. Madagascar is
one of the seven Vanilla Islands and was present at the just concluded WTM in
London where the UNWTO Secretary General Dr. Taleb Rifai together with the
Vanilla Islands president, Seychelles’ tourism and culture minister Alain St.
Ange, announced the ‘arrival’ of a
new tourism region on the global scene. Members are Reunion, Mauritius,
Madagascar, Mayotte, The Comoros, Seychelles and the Maldives though invitation
to join the group are expected soon to Zanzibar and the islands off the
Mozambique coast. Watch this space for updates from the runoff election and
signs of any trouble until then or once results are announced in mid December.


Seychelles News


16th November 2013)

extraordinary environmental protection work of the Seychelles, and the fact
that this tiny Indian Ocean island nation has devoted over 50 percent of its
territory to territorial and marine protected areas has found favour at the
highest level of the Commonwealth, of which the Seychelles are a member. None
other than HRH The Prince of Wales has recognized this massive commitment to a
greener world when he publicly commended the Seychelles for their
groundbreaking policies, laws and regulations to protect the environment.
Prince Charles is of course known as an ardent advocate for a greener world and
his endorsement will go a long way for the Seychelles to gain greater
recognition and perhaps a greater influence in the world as climate change and
rising sea levels continue to be one of the greatest threats to mankind ever

James Alix Michel responded to the commendation by saying: ‘We
must strengthen our efforts to establish protected areas which contribute
towards carbon reduction, and Seychelles is proud to have designated 50% of its
land territory as protected- the largest proportion in the world. We have
committed to declare 30% of our Exclusive Economic Zone as protected ocean
areas, which form part of our Convention on Biological Diversity targets. We
[with HRH The Prince of Wales] how we can work together to stop the further deterioration of our ecosystem and slow down climate change as we are both passionate about these global concerns’.

The President spoke to Prince Charles about the blue economy concept which Seychelles is advocating and the way it can be developed through policies and programmes, as well as the HRH’s own charitable organizations. President Michel then added: ‘We discussed how we can work together to stop the further deterioration of our ecosystem and slow down climate change as we are both passionate about these global concerns’.
The President also discussed the ‘Debt for Adaptation’ swaps that has been endorsed by this Commonwealth meeting. It is a practical tool that Seychelles has proposed towards addressing both the debt burden of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) as well as their need to urgently mobilize support for climate change adaptation.
In this regard President James Alix Michel added: ‘We discussed the ways to enhance sustainable fisheries by creating marine-protected areas and leveraging financing to mitigate the loss of income from reduced fishing over a period of time, but raising the value of fishing in the long term, so that fisheries becomes more viable’.
Piracy in the western Indian Ocean was also a topic of discussion, where the role that Seychelles has played in fighting the maritime threat was elaborated, in particular the success of Seychelles’ anti-piracy operations. In closing President Michel said: ‘Your Royal Highness, it has been a great pleasure to meet with you today, and we would like to welcome you to the shores of our beautiful Seychelles. I look forward to many more years of friendship and cooperation with the UK’.

Prince Charles firstborn son and second in the line to the throne, HRH The Duke of Cambridge, spent his honeymoon in the Seychelles on North Island and was able to experience firsthand what results the protection of the environment has yielded for the Seychelles islands and will no doubt also be a valuable ally in the Seychelles ongoing struggle to have the developed and threshold nations of this world reverse their alarming trends of increasing carbon outputs which are today seen as the major contributor to the warming of the earth and the melting of arctic and other icefields. A rise, as was projected by recent UN reports on climate change, of between 26 and over 80 centimetres of ocean levels by the end of the century will be a threat for the very survival of small island countries, foremost to be named the Maldives and some Pacific Ocean nations but also the Seychelles where UNESCO’s World Heritage Site at Aldabra could end up under water. Watch this space for future news from the

Seychelles Islands, on all matters regarding tourism and conservation.


(Posted 12th November 2013)

Air Seychelles, the national airline of the Republic of Seychelles, earlier today announced a further expansion of its codeshare agreement with Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), for travel to Vietnam via Abu Dhabi. The expanded agreement will see Air Seychelles place its ‘HM’ code on Etihad Airways’ daily service to Ho Chi Minh City, offering a total of 17 connections between Mahé and Ho Chi Minh City on the combined Air Seychelles and Etihad Airways network between Abu Dhabi and Seychelles.

Air Seychelles’ Chief Executive Officer, Cramer Ball, said: ‘We are thrilled to offer Ho Chi Minh City to the travelling public and to extend our presence in the strategically important ASEAN market. With our sub two-hour connections over Abu Dhabi, we now offer the fastest connections to Seychelles from Vietnam. We expect the new flights to attract holiday makers as well as business travellers from this thriving city of nine million, and the new ties will open up export and cargo opportunities between the two countries.’

The new codeshare deal follows the recent signing of an air services agreement between Seychelles and Vietnam during a State visit by Seychelles President James Michel in September.

Seychelles’ Minister for Home Affairs and Transport, Joel Morgan who is also the Chairman of Air Seychelles, was quoted in a media release as having said: ‘I am delighted Air Seychelles has been able to get its codeshare to Ho Chi Minh City with Etihad Airways approved quickly. This is a clear demonstration of the value of the partnership between Air Seychelles, Etihad Airways, and our own Civil Aviation Authority, to work together to open new markets for the Seychelles. The positive impact created by the increased connections provided by Air Seychelles and Etihad Airways, on tourism, employment and other economic sectors, is unmistakable’.

The new codeshare flights can be booked online at airseychelles.com, through the airline’s Call Centre on +248 4 38 10 13, at the airline’s sales offices in the Seychelles and their destination offices, or through any travel agency.

The following flight schedules apply for the code shared service from AUH to SGN and back:

Flight No Departs Departure Time Arrives Arrival Time Frequency
EY 440/HM 5349 Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) 19:40 Abu Dhabi (AUH) 00:40+1 Daily
EY 441/HM 5348 Abu Dhabi (AUH) 08:25 Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) 18:25 Daily


(Posted 11th November 2013)

Air Seychelles has now turned 35 years, a major accomplishment in this day and age of aviation, where small airlines have disappeared at an alarming rate, either closed down altogether or taken over with a complete loss of their identity in the process.

When in 1978 the government of the Seychelles decided it needed an own national airline and merged Air Mahe and Inter Islands Airways, Seychelles Airlines was formed to connect the archipelago to the world. Eventually the name changed to Air Seychelles but it was that strategic decision which saw the archipelago connected under their own flag to the world.

For 33 of those years Air Seychelles stood on its own feet, flying to a range of destinations in Africa, across the Indian Ocean islands, to India, Asia and Europe, and through a regular charter operation out of the UK even as far as the Falkland Islands.

However, the global financial crisis and subsequent fallout across the world economy saw the financial returns in 2009/10 and 2010/11 take a turn to the worse and after the retirement of long serving CEO Capt. David Savy came a shortlived period of downsizing the airline to nearly non existence before, seeing the writing on the wall, President James Alix Michel, through his personal friendship with the ruler of Abu Dhabi, accomplished a fundamental change for the airline.

In February 2012 Etihad, Abu Dhabi’s national airline, acquired a 40 percent stake for which it paid 20 million US Dollars to the Seychelles’ government and injected a further 20 million US Dollars as working capital, while at the same time taking over the management of Air Seychelles.

Initially on collision course with many in the tourism private sector, mostly due to a lack of engaging the archipelago’s tourism industry in a comprehensive dialogue to address their fears over the loss of nonstop flights from Paris, London, Milan, Rome and Mumbai and the sharp rise of fare levels between Mahe and Praslin, this changed when the at times stinging criticism reached the ears of CEO Cramer Ball and had him launch a series of direct consultative meetings with the country’s tourism gurus and general business leadership. As a result there was greater appreciation of the need for change and the need to channel traffic from Europe via the main hub of Etihad in Abu Dhabi, from where Air Seychelles was carrying passengers under a code share arrangement with Etihad to Mahe and on to Mauritius and Johannesburg, and vice versa. Not all were in favour either when news broke that the planned route to Beijing would be shifted to Hong Kong and again operate via Abu Dhabi. Air Seychelles had during that first year of cooperating with Etihad disposed of their ageing B767 fleet and acquired two Airbus A330-300 models, which allowed for streamlined crew training at the Etihad Aviation Academy in Abu Dhabi, as well as take advantage of maintenance facilities there, which reduced the cost of keeping the fleet in the air dramatically compared to the B767 days.

Few close observers were therefore surprised when the airline made a million dollar profit in the first full year after the ‘marriage’ with Etihad and during a recent visit to the islands it was confirmed that by and large the private sector had now bought into the concept of routing traffic to the archipelago via Abu Dhabi, to let the economics of scale come to make an impact on the airline’s passenger uplift and financial performance. Only a few days ago did Air Seychelles announce a rise of 91 percent in passenger numbers, quarter on quarter compared with last year and a second year of profits is now obvious for everyone to see and any remaining critics have remained shtumm in the face of economic success and rising passenger numbers coming under these arrangements to the islands.

In another landmark step did Air Seychelles two weeks ago announce the purchase of 3 DHC 6 – 400 state of the art turboprops aircraft, aimed to replace the ageing DHC 6 – 300 types which have flown across the archipelago for between 20 and 30 years already. With over 1.000 flights a month between 4 of these 19 seater STOL aircraft, on scheduled services to Praslin and to other islands on coach and charter services, it is clear that a replacement will benefit Air Seychelles with reduced fuel consumption, state of the art automated engineering reports from the aircraft straight to the base and reduced maintenance cost, which in the case of older ageing aircraft tends to be substantially greater than for new birds.

Since the airline was formed in 1978 it flew a range of different aircraft, ranging from the venerable B707 over the B727, B737-700, the B757 and finally the B767 but also for a while a DC 10 and an Airbus A300 on lease from other airlines. Today Air Seychelles operates two Airbus A330-200, one Airbus A320 wetleased from Etihad on the route to Mauritius (3 times a week) and 4 DHC 6 turboprops, one new – 400 and three older – 300 models.

Flying the Creole Spirit’ will no doubt be with us for a very long time to come and going by the words of CEO Cramer Ball, the airline will continue to evaluate new destinations, perhaps on the East African mainland or further down South, to the Middle East, Europe and Asia, though many of those routes are now already covered under code share arrangements with other partner airlines of Etihad like Air Berlin or more recently with South African Airways, which allows the Air Seychelles flight number to go way beyond where the airline’s own planes now fly. Happy Birthday and Happy Landings for crews and passengers in the years ahead.

AND in closing today once again some worthwhile reads from Gill Staden’s The Livingstone Weekly

Is KAZA Working?

KAZA, Kavango-Zambezi Conservation Area, covers an enormous area around Livingstone, into Zambia, Zimbabwe, Angola, Namibia and Botswana. The plan is to include the villages inside the conservation area and allow the animals free passage from one National Park to another. And the animals, notably, elephant are now moving into and around Sioma Ngwezi National Park. They are moving outside the park and going in to the villages. Although the planting season has not started properly the villagers are already complaining. In a report in the Post: Manyandelo (UPND Chairperson) accused ZAWA of having failed to do their work, alleging that the elephants had been terrorising the area for over two months, but no proper measures had been put in place by the officers.

The story tells us that about 50 elephants are walking around the area and that the people are afraid.

The aim of the KAZA Conservation Area is not to put fear into the hearts of the people and have their crops destroyed, but to allow the wildlife to move. With wildlife comes jobs, but the jobs are not there yet, so what happens now?

For me, I would probably say that it is fantastic to have the elephants returning to their old stomping grounds, but I am not a subsistence farmer who needs to grow his crops. Politicians and Chiefs are also praising Peace Parks Foundation for their innovative scheme of KAZA. But they too are not subsistence farmers either.

Throughout all my travels in Zambia I have found that communities around our parks and GMAs are poor; they gain little from the wildlife which often destroys their crops or kills their domestic animals. We are trying to put up conservancies in the communities but they are not reaping the benefits yet. For the short term, at least, if our wildlife tourism is to grow, the villagers need to have an income and if it is not through their farms, then it has to be through some form of compensation.

Cyanide Handed in

By Alex Bell, SW Radio Africa

Villagers near the Hwange National Park, the site of the mass poisoning of elephants in recent weeks, have reportedly handed over unspecified amounts of the deadly cyanide chemical used by poachers in the park.

According to a report in the Chronicle newspaper, the villagers in Tsholotsho dumped the cyanide on the side of the road, almost a week after the end of a government set deadline to surrender the poison.

Chief Siphoso from Pumula area in Tsholotsho was quoted by the Chronicle as saying that the cyanide was handed over to police. However Chief Siphoso said the people who gave up the chemical could not be identified as they dumped the substance near Pelandaba Primary School, under the cover of darkness.

“I cannot tell who these people are because bafika bajikela endleleni eduze lesikolo (they just dumped it on a path near the school). All the cyanide we got was dumped by unknown individuals. Last time we also picked up some near Phelela Primary. In all these cases we have informed the police,” said Chief Siphoso. …

Western Black Rhinoceros Is Officially Extinct

From National Wildlife Humane Society

Source: HNGN BY:Julia Lynn Rubin

The last time it was seen, it was back in 2006, and now according to the latest review of plants and animals by International Union for Conservation of Nature, Africa’s western black rhinoceros is officially extinct. The subspecies of black rhino was declared extinct in 2011, and recent surveys have failed to locate any individuals. It was critically endangered and on the Red List of Threatened Species, which monitors more than 60,000 animals (25 percent of mammals on the list are at risk) and according to the IUCN, the animals could have been saved if proper conservation efforts had been implemented.

In addition to the western black, Africa’s northern white rhino is "teetering on the brink of extinction," while Asia’s Javan rhino is "making its last stand," according to the latest IUCN report. Poaching for the ivory in rhino tusks has caused populations of these magnificent animals to decline.

"[Conservation] measures must be strengthened now, specifically managing habitats in order to improve performance, preventing other rhinos from fading into extinction," said Simon Stuart, chair of the IUCN species survival commission.