Weekly roundup of ATC News from Eastern Africa and the Indian Ocean islands, First edition December 2013

AVIATION

TOURISM &

CONSERVATION

NEWS EAST AFRICA

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

You can get your daily news updates instantly via Twitter by following @whthomeor join me on www.facebook.com/WolfgangHThome where the articles also ‘cross load’.

Read the daily postings on my blog via www.wolfganghthome.wordpress.com which you can also ‘follow’ to get immediate notification when a new article is posted. Reproduction of any material will require prior written consent and when consent is granted proper author’s credit.

Much of my material is published on www.eturbonews.com/africa – the global industry leader for e-communications to the tourism and travel trade.

This blog is powered by Smile Communications, Uganda’s first 4G LTE wireless broadband system

(Visit www.smile.co.ug or www.smilecoms.com for more details and how to sign up for Smile services)

First edition December 2013

East Africa News

EMIRATES AVIATION ACADEMY HELPS TO ADDRESS PILOT SHORTAGES

(Posted 28th November 2013)

Emirates, the award winning national airline of Dubai, has responded to both, constant misgivings from in particular African airlines over recruiting ‘readymade‘ pilots from the continent and leaving local African carriers to struggle as well as their own recognition to get more actively engaged in pilot training to meet their future pilot requirements, with launching a 137 million US Dollar project of a brand new aviation academy.

Located at the new Dubai World Central airport in Jebel Ali on a 150 hectares site, the new facility will be able to teach initially some 400 students at the same time, will have their own fleet of trainer aircraft, an own runway, an own airport code, an own control tower plus flight simulators, lecture rooms and accommodation on site, aimed to support the already in place national pilot cadet training programme the Dubai government has put into place to attract more nationals into an aviation careers. Some 150 teaching and administrative staff will be employed when the new facility is ready in 2015 and once graduations start turn out about 160 pilots each year, who according to information obtained will already have firsthand experience with jet aviation, an advantage when they are placed as pilot cadets on commercial flights before earning their third stripe as a First Officer.

(A model the new Emirates Aviation Academy on display at the recent Dubai Air Show)

Recent forecasts published by Boeing during the Dubai Air Show talked of a pilot requirement of up to 40.000 in the Middle East and the Gulf region over the next 20 years, with a further 50.000 aircraft technicians and engineers needed to keep up the pace of aircraft maintenance. Emirates has nearly 400 new aircraft on order to be delivered over the next 10 – 20 years and urgently needs to recruit the pilots, cabin crew and ground personnel like technicians to actually operate these new aircraft when they start to arrive. At the Dubai Air Show did Emirates place the largest order in aviation history, with 150 firm orders for the new B777X, a further 50 options for this aircraft type and another 50 Airbus A380’s worth just under 100 billion US Dollars at current list prices.

Watch this space for breaking and regular news from the world of aviation.

WORLD ROUTES PUBLISHES SUMMARY OF FINDINGS OF LAS VEGAS MEETING

(Posted 26th November 2013)

Routes has now published the findings of the Strategy Summit 2013 and produced a Conference White Paper in which it outlines the discussions and conclusions of the aviation industry’s top executives who attended the World Routes Summit in Las Vegas in early October this year.

Aaron Heslehurst, News Anchor and Presenter for BBC World Television, who chaired the Summit and Shruti Vijayakumar, Air Transport Specialist at The World Bank have produced the document in which they are reporting the findings of the World Routes Strategy Summit 2013 alongside the 19th World Route Development Forum.

The Summit, which was held in partnership with ICAO and The World Bank and sponsored by Oman Airports Management Company (OAMC), brought together senior leaders and key stakeholders from aviation, tourism and cargo to participate in discussions that will set the commercial and political agenda for the industry. The event attracted airline and airport CEOs, Ministers of Tourism and leaders of industry associations worldwide.

Dr. Charles E. Schlumberger, Lead Air Transport Specialist at The World Bank Group who moderated the panel discussion entitled A Sustainable Future for Aviation said about the Summit: ‘The World Routes Strategy Summit is the annual ‘D Check’ or ‘Heavy Maintenance Visit’ of the air transport industry. During two days each year, top airline and airport executives, aviation authorities, and officials of international organizations gather during the World Routes Forum to discuss, dismantle, and analyze every part of our fascinating air transport system. Their insight and conclusions are outlined in a White Paper, which can be seen as health bill of the industry’. Nigel Mayes, Commercial & Relationships Director for Routes added his own voice when he commented: ‘The World Routes Strategy Summit is the only forum where senior executives from airlines, airports, tourism authorities and governments gather to discuss the issues and thrash out the solutions facing the aviation and tourism industry. We had over 1,000 executives play their part in this year’s conference making it our largest summit ever’.

The report details the conclusions from each of the sessions which took place over the two day event which covered many aspects of the industry. Points raised include the fact that collaboration across the airline, airport and tourism sectors is key to adapting to a challenging market environment whilst governments also play a key role to success. This was the finding from The Golden Triangle – Airports, Airlines and Tourism session and speakers during this insightful session also raised the need to improve connectivity across the US to promote domestic travel to international visitors.

The Addressing CO2 Emissions session found that the decision which was made at the 38th ICAO assembly to commit the organisation’s 198 member states to develop a global market-based mechanism (MBM) to address international aviation emissions by 2016 was hailed by the EU but viewed by others as a missed opportunity. The session found that the industry remains committed to carbon neutral growth whilst highlighting the need for the industry to remain involved. The State of the Industry session saw panellists emphasising that whilst the industry remains fragile growing collaboration with stakeholders is a positive sign for the future and that there is a need to open the lines of communication with passengers to improve service particularly in view of the expected growth in demand for air transport in the rising middle classes and emerging markets.

The World Routes Strategy Summit Conference White Paper, which includes more detail on the above sessions and more, is available to view online for all registered Routesonline users at: http://www.routesonline.com/suppliers/2355/routes/80/latest-developments/#latest-developmentsContent

Africa News

WTM AFRICA ON COURSE TO REACH TARGETS

(Posted 27th November 2013)

The inaugural World Travel Market Africa is attracting interest from senior buyers from around the globe, with a number of travel businesses confirming that they will attend and are looking to sign deals with African and international exhibitors. The first even World Travel Market Africa will take place in Cape Town from 2-3 May 2014 and is taking place alongside other key African travel events at the same venue.

The event is cording to information received from Lloyd Orr, who are undertaking the PR for the event on behalf of Reed Exhibitions, on track to sign up its target of 700 exhibitors, a major incentive of course for buyers planning to attend the event. Senior Contract Manager, Thomas Cook Northern Europe (Sweden) Goran Cosic was typical of many buyers when he said: ‘We are looking for new contacts and knowledge about opportunities for incoming tourism. Africa is a large continent and WTM Africa provides an accessible platform to meet with the right people’.

Elsewhere Senior Director of Market Management, Eastern Med, Africa, Middle East and Indian Ocean, Expedia Travel (Spain) Diego Lofeudo, noted that ‘Reed Exhibitions has mastered the art of putting buyers and sellers together’.

He added that WTM Africa gives his company the opportunity to meet everyone at the same time under the same roof. It is extremely cost effective and scalable.

WTM’s global reach and appeal also means that buyers with interests in African travel from across the world are planning to attend and many regular attendees of the WTM main event in London are expected to come to Cape Town for the inaugural Africa fair.

WTM Africa will be one of three co-located travel industry events at the Cape Town International Conference Centre (CTICC) that form Africa Travel Week 2014.

The others will include IBTM Africa (Incentive, Business Travel & Meetings) and ILTM Africa (International Luxury Travel Market) which will take place from 28 – 30 April.

Africa Travel Week events are:

ILTM Africa 28 – 30 April 2014

IBTM Africa 28 – 30 April 2014

WTM Africa: 02 – 03 May 2014

Africa Travel Week will be run by the newly formed Thebe Reed Exhibitions, the new joint venture between Reed Exhibitions and leading South African exhibitions organiser Thebe Tourism Group.

Hosted Buyer places are limited so it is strongly recommended to register any interest immediately at www.wtmafrica.com/Hosted-Buyer-Programme

For more information about WTM Africa or information for potential exhibitors please visit wtmafrica-sales

#AFRAAAGA45 ENDS MEETINGS WITH AWARD TO KENYA AIRWAYS’ DR. TITUS NAIKUNI

(Posted 27th November 2013)

AFRAA’s Distinguished Service Award for outstanding services to African aviation went to Dr. Titus Naikuni of Kenya Airways, the CEO of the host airline for the 45th Annual General Assembly, to the applause of his CEO colleagues from among the airline members present at Mombasa’s picture perfect Diani Beach where the Leisure Lodge Resort had prepared for a beach side dinner for the nearly 400 delegates and invited guests who attended the gala dinner. Also honoured during the closing of this year’s proceedings was Ethiopian Airlines for their impressive growth over the past year and to recognize their efforts to partner with regional airlines in Africa.

(Dr. Naikuni seen here with this correspondent at the 2013 World Travel Award Ceremony)

AFRAA will move to Algeria for the 2014 AFRAA general assembly as Air Algerie was chosen to host next year’s event between November 02 – 04 at a venue still to be advised.

South African Airways CEO Monwabisi Kalawe was elected as new chairman of AFRAA’s Executive Committee, the organization’s main decision making body between general assemblies.

The three-day conference was held under the theme ‘Challenging times – Africa’s Strategic Alignment’and brought together over 360 high profile delegates from 55 countries across the world. For future updates on AFRAA’s meetings, events and activities visit www.afraa.org and follow them on Twitter and Facebook for access to their latest postings.

AFRAA ASSEMBLY DISCUSSES THE FUTURE OF AFRICAN AVIATION

(For the full article with all graphs and pictures click on this link: http://wolfganghthome.wordpress.com/2013/11/26/african-aviation-the-challenges-and-opportunities/ )

(Posted 26th November 2013)

The AFRAA Secretary General, Dr. Elijah Chingosho, provided the 30 member airlines and hundreds of delegates registered at the ongoing Annual General Assembly with an array of details about African aviation, underscoring once again the key points of the need to improve aviation safety, the high regulatory costs, high fees and taxes on tickets, far lower loadfactors compared to the rest of the world, the lowest passenger numbers and air movements in comparison with all other continents and the challenges of by and large ageing fleets, apart from the top airlines.

In addition did the Secretary General’s annual report also highlight the range of activities undertaken by AFRAA across the year on behalf of and in conjunction with member airlines before outlining the challenges ahead for the year 2014 and beyond.

Many readers, especially those keenly following the aviation reporting here, have specifically requested to make more details available about the proceedings in Diani Beach’s Leisure Lodge Resort and to provide them with the various presentations, the data and graphs, topics covered and conclusions drawn.

In view of this I have requested AFRAA to provide the full presentation of Dr. Chingosho, which they have done together with their permission to reproduce key elements from what was said yesterday on opening of the AGA. In addition has AFRAA asked to publish on their behalf the details of how to follow the events via Twitter, Facebook, on their website and a specially created link to access streaming content from the conference hall, when proceedings are in progress:

The 45th AFRAA Annual General Assembly is streaming live through the link: http://goo.gl/9g3yyL

Follow us on Twitter: @AfricanAirlines

Follow us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AFRAA.AfricanAirlinesAssociation

The official AFRAA AGA 45 hashtag: #AFRAA45AGA

Relevant information from the closing day of AFRAA’s 45th Annual General Assembly will be provided as and when details become available through the AFRAA Secretariat on location in Diani Beach or their headoffice in Nairobi. Watch this space for regular and breaking aviation news and ongoing coverage of this key African aviation event.

INTRODUCTION

Mr. President, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen; in response to the MC’s invitation, allow me now to present to you the customary report of the Secretary General. This is a summary. The Annual report is included with your AGA documentation.

In this particular time of great opportunities, we ought to take stock, evaluate the state of our industry, appreciate our strengths and weaknesses, take cognizance of the driving forces of the market and strategize accordingly so as to exploit the opportunities and come out as sustainable and strong winners henceforth.

This report will, therefore, be structured as follows:

Performance of the industry globally and in Africa

Main Secretariat activities during the year

The future challenges and opportunities

Conclusions

STATE OF THE AIRLINE INDUSTRY

Africa has the potential to be a significant force in aviation on the back of robust economic growth forecasts, with Africa having among the fastest growing economies worldwide. North African economies are also rebounding after disruptions arising from revolutions in 2011.

The areas I will briefly cover are shown on the screen.

African Air Transport Growth Prospects

Tourism

Global Airline Industry Performance 2012

Airline Global Performance

African Airline Performance

Freight Traffic

Fleet Composition and Development

Jet Fuel Cost

African Air Transport Growth Prospects

The performance of the African aviation industry is lagging behind those of the rest of the world at less than 3% of global RPKs. The growth is heavily constrained by the high industry costs, inadequate infrastructure at several airports, slow implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision, lack of a single traffic rights negotiating body with respect to third parties like the EU. Nonetheless, demand for air transport has increased steadily over the past years with passenger numbers and freight traffic growing significantly.

Over the period 2010-2015, Africa will be one of the fastest growing regions in the world in terms of international traffic with an average growth rate of 6.1% compared to the global average of 5.8%. However, African aviation needs to grow at double digit rates to be a significant player in the global industry.

Middle East and Asia Pacific will however surpass Africa’s growth at 7.9% and 6.9% respectively. Europe, Latin America and North America are projected to record lower international passenger growth of 5.0%, 5.8% and 4.9%, respectively. The positive growth trend is expected to continue in the coming years due to robust economic growth, demographic boom, increasing urbanization, and emergence of the middle class.

Tourism

According to UNWTO, international tourism arrivals reached 1.035 billion in 2012; 39 million more than in 2011. Global tourism contributed 9.1% to world GDP, 5.9% of worldwide exports and 4.5% of global investment in 2012.

The breakdown of international tourism traffic is shown on the figure with Europe accounting for more than half, followed by Asia Pacific with 22% international tourist arrivals in 2012 and Africa representing only 5%.

Africa saw the second highest growth across the world with 3 million more tourist arrivals in 2012. This is equivalent to a 6% increase. According to UNWTO, in 2012, Africa attracted 52 million visitors and receipts from tourism for 2012 amounted to over US$36 billion. Sub-Sahara Africa is outpacing other regions in tourism growth. Africa’s tourism revenues are rising fast and are set to contribute more and more to world activity.

Source: UNWTO

Global Airline Industry Profitability 2012

Global airline profitability declined in 2012 to a net profit of US$7.4 billion or about 14% on 2011, way below the strong performance of the industry in 2010 when net profits were above US$19 billion. Results were mixed across regions, but Asia Pacific airlines achieved the strongest results with a net profit of US$3.9 billion. African airlines however made a loss of US$0.1 billion.

Source: IATA

Global Traffic Performance

According to IATA global passenger air traffic (RPKs) improved by 5.3% in 2012 compared to 2011. International markets had an increment of 6.0% while domestic markets grew by 4.1%. In line with the traffic upward trend, seat capacity (ASKs) increased by 4.3% and 4.0% on international and domestic routes respectively. With this, the average load factor increased to 79.2%.

IATA estimates of scheduled world cargo traffic (FTK) decreased by 1.1% in 2012 compared to 2011. International freight traffic, which accounts for more than 87% of total FTKs, decreased by 1.3%, while domestic freight traffic increased by 0.3%. IATA member airlines freight traffic (FTKs) on all scheduled services suffered a decline of 0.5% compared to 2011’s decline of 0.4%.

System-wide, the Asia Pacific region was the world’s biggest air transport market by RPKs performed (31.4%) in 2012, followed by Europe and North America at 26.3% and 24.6% respectively. Africa remains the smallest market, accounting for about 2.8% of global RPKs.

African Airlines Performance

Passengers Carried

Passenger numbers has grown consistently year on year since 2004 except in 2011 where the numbers dipped as a result of the Arab Spring and political instability in parts of North Africa. From less than 40 million passengers carried in 2004 by African airlines, passenger numbers have increased to 62.9 million in 2012; a cumulative growth of 61.5% (average annual growth 7.8%), up from the 2011 figure of 56.4 million.

The high GDP growth experienced in 2012 coupled with the attractiveness of Africa as a source for mineral resources and an increasingly attractive investment destination continue to attract foreign investments. African airlines therefore continued their aggressive network expansion, new markets development and further penetration of their domestic and intra-Africa markets. As a result, passenger numbers increased on domestic, intra-Africa and intercontinental routes. The total number of intercontinental passengers carried increased to 26.7 million from 23.6 million in 2011.

Domestic and Intra-Africa Passengers

Domestic passenger numbers increased by over 8% to 19.4 million due an increase in access to air travel, lower fares and new routes launched in 2012. The growing competition in many domestic markets and the resultant improvement in service quality and lower fares continue to stimulate demand. Low Costs Airlines, particularly in South Africa, Kenya, Egypt, Kingdom of Morocco and lately Tanzania continue to aggressively promote and attract more passengers, some of whom had never flown by air before.

Intra-Africa passenger numbers went up 12.75% to 16.8 million, up from 14.9 million in 2011. This growth was driven largely by the rapidly growing business and trade between African countries and the growing middle class, some of whom now prefer air travel.

With a population of over 1.07 billion, spread across the vast the continent of 54 countries, there is huge potential for growth in intra-Africa air travel. The major constraint to the growth of intra-Africa growth is the slow pace of liberalisation and the over-dependence Bilateral Air Services Agreements (BASAs) by many States as well as the high taxes, fees and charges on passengers, fuel and other services.

Intercontinental Passengers

Intercontinental passenger numbers in 2012 increased by 12.9% over 2011. African airlines share of this was 5.1% in the year under review, bringing total passengers carried on intercontinental routes to 26.7 million. Non-African airlines carried 7.8% more passengers. The continued economic slowdown in the Eurozone reduced the traffic flow from that market, especially leisure traffic. The political crisis in some countries in North Africa also shied away tourists to the region in the year under review. This was however compensated for by an increase in the number of passengers from Asia, the Middle East and the Americas to sub-Sahara Africa. Non-African airlines still carry the bulk of traffic to/from Africa, accounting for 78.4% of all passengers carried on intercontinental routes in 2012.

Passenger Distribution

Intercontinental passenger market segment remains the biggest with 42% of all passengers travelling between Africa and other regions of the world. The domestic market segment represents 31% while the intra-Africa market is 27%.

Passenger Load Factor

The imbalance of capacity and demand continues to create inefficiencies in many African airlines. Average passenger load factor (PLF) improved marginally by 0.8% to 69.7%. This compares unfavourably to global average PLF of 79.2% for 2012.

Mismatch of capacity to demand, limited commercial cooperation and the uncoordinated networks among most African operators are some of the reasons for the poor load factor on intra-Africa routes. The deployment of high-capacity aircraft on low and mid-density markets drives down load factor and also acts as a disincentive to more frequencies where they may be needed.

Freight Carried and Traffic

Air freight shipment in Africa is still very low. In 2012 the continent airlines carried about 788500 tonnes of total global freight carried, representing 1.8% of total air freight shipment. AFRAA member airlines in 2012 carried a total of over 710800 tonnes. In FTKs, this represents a growth of 11.7% compared to 2.7% in 2011. The Middle East and Africa recorded the highest year-on-year air freight growth of 12.8% and 11.0% respectively.

Already, major African carriers such as Egypt Air, Ethiopian, Kenya Airways, and South African Airways are investing substantial resources to grow their air freight business. This will reduce the hitherto over reliance on belly-space for cargo shipment, which is limited and subject to baggage load.

However, the failure by many African airlines to develop the cargo component of their operations has led to dominance of the intercontinental sector by non-African airlines. On the domestic and intra-Africa segments, the bulk of freight is transported by rail or road due to lack of capacity and bureaucratic customs clearance processes at airports.

Freight Traffic Forecast

IATA survey showed that airlines on average expect air freight tonnes to grow by 3% annually over the next 4 years to 2016 on international markets. The manufacturers in their long term forecast expect air freight demand (FTKs) growth to average 4.9 – 5.2% over the next 20 years. IATA maintains its long term forecast of 5% average growth.

Fleet Composition and Development

Global commercial airline fleet in 2012 was composed of 20,320 passenger aircraft and 1,730 freighters according to Boeing. By 2032, this is expected to double to 41,240. Between 2013 and 2032, 35,280 new aircraft are expected to added to or replace some existing fleet in operation. The total cost of the additional fleet is estimated at over US$4,860 billion.

Africa passenger aircraft make up of 690 (3.4%) of the total global fleet. There are also about 10 freighters in operation. AFRAA airlines in 2012 operated a total of 573 aircraft or 83% of total African commercial fleet

Africa Fleet and Forecast

Currently 61% of the total of 690 aircraft in operation in Africa is made up of single aisle type. Wide body (large, medium and small) constitute up 24% and regional jets 17%.

Africa is forecast to require 1,070 new airplanes over the next 20 years to 2032. Of this, about 70% will be single aisle aircraft, 19% small wide body and 9% regional jets. Medium wide body aircraft will constitute about 3%. The total number of commercial aircraft to be in operations in Africa by 2032 will almost double to 1,500.

The average age of the current African fleet is about 14 years. Fleet is composed of 150 large to small wide body, 420 single aisle planes and 120 regional jets.

Jet Fuel Cost

According to IATA, in 2012 on average, fuel accounted for 33% of total airline operating costs, although higher in some regions. In Africa for instance, fuel accounted for between 45-55% of operating costs.

The price of jet fuel in 2012 increased by 1.7% to average US$129.5 per barrel compared with US$127.5 in 2011. This meant that fuel price stayed at the high level reached in 2011 for the most part of 2012, placing sustained pressure on the airline industry profit margin.

AFRAA SECRETARIAT VALUE ADDED ACTIVITIES

The activities of the Secretariat are guided by the AFRAA Business Plan approved by the Executive Committee.

The report covers safety, training, industry costs, enhancing image of African airlines, environment, liberalization of air transport services, strengthening AFRAA’s continental representation and leadership role. I now highlight the activities by the Secretariat to meet specified targets.

Safety

Safety is the top priority of AFRAA but still remains a major challenge. To enhance safety, AFRAA is committed to work with several stakeholders including ICAO, AFCAC, IATA, AASA and regional economic communities.

Currently 39 African airlines are IOSA Certified and the number of airlines preparing for IOSA certification continues to increase.

AU Heads of State Endorsement of IOSA

Following recommendations of Ministers responsible for Aviation after their conference in Abuja on 16-20 July 2012, the Heads of State of the African Union endorsed the requirement for all African airlines to be IOSA registered by 2015. This is a major milestone which should see safety standards in Africa reach world levels and ensure that all African States and airlines are out of the EU banned list.

AFRAA is working closely with IATA, AFCAC and ICAO to facilitate the achievement of the safety targets for Africa by 2015 mainly through capacity building and providing advisory services for airlines preparing for IOSA audits.

Safety Training

AFRAA conducted 14 safety courses and workshops by October this year mainly focused on helping airlines seeking IOSA registration. We are gratefully to IATA who sponsored 4 of the courses to enable airlines attend for free.

Training and Human Capital Development

Developing people is among the top priorities of AFRAA to ensure that African aviation continues to grow using highly trained and capable personnel.

In 2012 the AFRAA Secretariat conducted 17 training courses and 4 workshops/seminars. Our collaboration with the IATA Airline Training Fund (IATF) for the development of capacity continues to grow. In 2012 IATF sponsored 6 free courses which were allocated to airlines to assist them in preparing for IOSA registration. AFRAA in collaboration with IATA conducted 4 workshops/forums which were well attended by airlines.

World class African training centres in Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Kingdom of Morocco, Seychelles and Tunisia are on the AFRAA website and Annual Report to facilitate bilateral co-operation among airlines.

AFRAA Fuel Project

AFRAA in 2011 launched the joint fuel project. Following the initial success, the second tender was issued in 2012 for jet fuel procurement in 2013. The number of airlines has increased from 8 to 14 and the pooled fuel volumes more than double to over 1.0 billion litres. Negotiations are on-going for the 2014 tender and expected to conclude by the end of November.

To develop capacity in cost effective fuel management, AFRAA in partnership with IATA organised a two-day course on fuel at the AFRAA Headquarters in Nairobi in October, attended by 25 trainees from 12 airlines.

Taxes, Fees and Charges

Taxes, fees and charges on African airlines, and passengers are still among the highest in the industry. During the year, AFRAA did analysis and identified the various high taxes and charges applied to airlines by some States and service providers. This information enabled us to do lobbying work for reduction.

AFRAA and IATA have joined hands in lobbying to reduce charges, fees and taxes on fuel, and indeed some progress has been noted as follows:

In Angola, the national oil company agreed to reduce fuel taxes in 2012 by 20% with the resulting savings of about US$ 110 million annually for airlines operating to that country;

In Ghana, the Government reduced by 75% the stabilisation fund cross- subsidy on the country’s jet fuel price formula, which is estimated to save airlines flying to that country US$ 37 million annually;

In Seychelles, the government replaced a 15% goods and services tax (GST) on a ticket with a VAT zero-rated for international travel, saving airlines US$ 22 million annually.

In West & Central Africa, the air navigation service provider, ASECNA, agreed to continue to freeze charges from the region for eight consecutive years.

Route Network Coordination

AFRAA launched a Route Network Cooperation Task Force aimed at optimising the schedules of participating airlines, develop virtual alliances and deliver incremental revenues. A number of airlines have shown interest in the project.

The project consultant is Sabre Airlines Solutions, which has vast experience in supporting similar initiatives in the Middle East and Latin America. A MoU was signed in March between AFRAA and Sabre. The project potentially could increase passenger revenue significantly.

Ground Handling Cooperation

AFRAA is promoting a Joint Ground Handling Project to address some of the common challenges faced by airlines at some airports as well as reducing costs.

Regulatory Issues

Aero-political and regulatory priorities throughout the year were focused on pushing for the full implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision (YD), the operationalization of the Executing Agency of the YD, promoting the adoption of the Montreal Convention of 1999 by all States, lobbying for more States to accede to the Cape Town Convention and Protocol, lobbying against the EU banned list and EU ETS scheme as well as updating airline legal and regulatory affairs officers of global and regional developments in the sector.

AFRAA is pleased that the 38th ICAO Assembly came up with a global deal on aviation emissions in early October this year. The agreement puts in place a fair and equitable solution that respects the special circumstances and respective capabilities in which a number of countries, especially third world countries, find themselves.

Land Development

AFRAA has a piece of valuable unused land at its headquarters in Nairobi. The Association wants to develop this land to generate additional revenue. This will enable AFRAA to fund more activities for the benefit of members. We are currently reviewing proposals to develop the land on a Build-Operate-and Transfer basis, as directed by the Executive Committee.

Communication and Information Dissemination

One of the key areas of focus by AFRAA is to enhance the knowledge base of its stakeholders about developments within the African aviation industry. In this regard, AFRAA has developed a number of communication channels through which it disseminate accurate, relevant and timely information to member airlines, partners and other stakeholders. Stakeholders now receive regular communication through a variety of publications.

We have consistently published a monthly e-newsletter, quarterly Africa Wings magazine, made regular press releases and media interviews designed to promote the image of African aviation. The world class MROs, training centres, and simulator providers have been featured in our revamped website.

New Members and Partners

The Association continues to recruit new members and partners with the objective of providing support to airlines.

We warmly welcome the one airline and 8 partners that joined AFRAA this year. The new member airline is Marsland Aviation Company. The 8 new Partners are: Atlantic FuelEx, IC Publications, HADID International Services FZE, Linkham Consulting, Marsh Ltd, MTU Maintenance, WireCard Technologies, and ACS Aviation Solutions .

AFRAA partners continue to provide valuable support to the development of African aviation through financial and non-financial contributions to the Secretariat and member airlines. We greatly value their support.

Working with other Organisations

AFRAA cooperates with the African Union Commission, NEPAD, AfDB; other major industry organisations including IATA, AASA, AACO, ICAO, AFCAC, ACI-Africa; governmental and non-governmental bodies, Regional Economic Communities (RECs) – ECOWAS, EAC, COMESA, SADC, UEMOA; manufacturers and service providers. This collaboration accords AFRAA goodwill and a broad framework resources and assistance that benefits members, protecting their interest and provides support for better economic environment for their operations.

Recovering Intercontinental Market share and African Aviation Vision 2063

The Secretariat carried out a study on how African airlines can recover intercontinental market share which is currently heavily dominated by non-African airlines. The study was debated by the Executive Committee who made many insightful contributions. The study has since been distributed to member airline CEOs for them to incorporate some of the ideas into their strategic plans.

The African Union celebrated 50 years this year. This was an opportune moment for the organisation to reflect on its performance in the past 50 years and to chart a vision for the next 50 years.

AFRAA and AFCAC were requested and jointly came up and submitted the Vision 2063 for African Aviation for incorporation into the AU Vision 2063.

FUTURE CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES

In this section I highlight the major future activities and opportunities for African aviation that are shown on the screen:

Safety

African carriers recovering intercontinental market share

Industry costs

Improved infrastructure and use of the latest ICT technologies

Promotion of the implementation of AFCAP

Human capital development.

Safety

Going forward, safety will continue to be the greatest challenge facing African aviation. We need to tackle safety issues seriously and head-on. AFRAA will strengthen collaboration with various organisations particularly IATA, AFCAC and ICAO to jointly facilitate the attainment of industry best practices in safety.

AFRAA will assist airlines to attain and maintain IOSA registration by providing training as well as facilitating cooperation and assistance among African Airlines particularly in availing expertise and sharing of experiences in this area. AFRAA has teamed up with Aviation Compliance Solutions (ACS), an IATA IOSA approved auditing firm, to develop IOSA auditors so as to reduce cost and make it more affordable for airlines to obtain and maintain IOSA registration.

African Carriers Recovering Intercontinental Market Share

Currently non-African carriers transport about 80% of the intercontinental traffic to and from the continent. It is necessary to ensure that African aviation plays its part in ensuring the economic, social and political integration of African States. In this regard, it is critical that the African Union puts in place policies that facilitates the development of African aviation such as ensuring full implementation of YD, negotiating ASAs as a block and not as individual countries, ensuring an even playing field and avoid favouring non-African carriers that are given more frequencies of services by some States that are denied their African counterparts, ensuring that costs of doing business in Africa are competitive and helping in ensuring the establishment of a major African hub in West and Central Africa.

Industry Costs

The Association will re-double efforts to sensitize and lobby Governments, airports and other service providers on the need to reduce taxes and charges and improve efficiency and services. AFRAA will also vigorously lobby for the removal of monopoly service providers to facilitate efficiency and provide choice to carriers. As this requires collaborative effort we will closely work with all relevant stakeholders.

Improved Infrastructure and Use of Technology

Currently, infrastructure in many African States is deficient, dilapidated and not coping with the growing airline industry. Although there are a significant number of exceptions, there is need to develop and expand airports, runways and air navigation services facilities. Airports should be open 24 hours a day and not just during daylight hours. There is need for the relevant authorities to be proactive and plan for the expected rapid expansion of African aviation.

The industry is behind the world in the adoption of cost effective technologies. It is important to take advantage of the latest information communication technologies including the use of mobile telephones, to minimise operating costs.

Promote the Implementation of AFCAP

Africa now has a common aviation policy endorsed in early 2013 by AU Heads of States. This is a major step forward, however, it needs to be implemented. This policy document should serves as the aviation development blueprint for Africa. The AU through the States should establish a monitoring mechanism for its implementation. There is need for an action plan with timelines for the implementation of specific goals. This can be done under the auspices of the AU and AFCAC. With this policy, Africa has an opportunity to adopt a common approach to many of the aviation challenges confronting the continent.

Human Resource Development

AFRAA will continue to strengthen the training unit to increase the number of training programmes that benefit members. We will continue to strengthen collaboration with IATA, our partners and others to jointly hold courses and seminars to keep African airlines abreast with the latest developments in the industry.

AFRAA will also continue to market the world class training facilities at member airlines including in Algeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Kingdom of Morocco, South Africa and Tunisia.

CONCLUSIONS

Ladies and Gentlemen: Thank you for your commitment and dedication. We have recorded many successful achievements but also face several challenges.

Africans are running a high risk of losing totally the African sky if appropriate measures are not immediately put in place to rectify the situation.

The biggest risk is seeing African carriers run out of business once by one with all the negative consequences such as job losses and lack of transportation facilities to promote the African tourism industry and to support the noble objectives of economic, social and political integration of the Continent.

AFRAA will continue to work with member airlines, its partners and other stakeholders so that collectively, we can overcome the challenges that confront us.

AFRAA MEETING KICKS OFF IN KENYA

(Posted 24th November 2013)

The 45th Annual General Assembly kicked off yesterday afternoon with the 162nd meeting of the Executive Committee of the African Airlines Association among the picture perfect background of the Indian Ocean.

Held this year at the Leisure Lodge Resort in Diani Beach – the last AFRAA annual meeting in Kenya took place in 1997 in Nairobi – a difference of some sort compared to the 2012 venue in Johannesburg. AFRAA, formed in 1968 and based in Nairobi / Kenya, now has 30 members including all the leading airlines on the African continent.

The meetings will be chaired by the Kenya Airways CEO Dr. Titus Naikuni who plays host to nearly 400 airline representatives from across the African continent and a large number of observers from the aviation industry across the rest of the world. Present at Diani Beach will be senior executives of aircraft manufacturers, other regional airline associations, IATA and ICAO, all watching from the sidelines how aviation’s last frontier continent, Africa, is shaping up to face present and future competition from global players.

Changing Times – Africa’s Strategic Alignment’ is the befitting theme for Africa’s most important aviation meeting of the year during which such topics as aviation safety, aviation infrastructure, market access and cooperation as well as environmental challenges will be on the agenda. Dr. Naikuni was quoted in a media release to have said: ‘The 45th Assembly will seek to build on the existing cooperation among African airlines, improve industry competitiveness and further enhance the gains made in safety and capacity development. While much has been done by African airlines to improve connectivity across the continent, the high operating costs environment and limited market access, continue to be serious drawbacks to the airlines’ growth and profitability’.

Dr. Elijah Chingosho, the Secretary General of AFRAA in the same media briefing added his own voice when he according to the media release said: ‘The AGA will evaluate the growing air transport opportunities in Africa and how operators can provide safe, reliable, efficient and profitable air services to support the continent’s development. By taking stock of the market realities, African airlines will be able to mobilize the necessary resources and forge partnerships to grow their market share. The AFRAA AGA is the premier gathering of senior global aviation executives in Africa. Annually, it brings together global aviation leaders, aircraft/engine manufacturers, service providers and suppliers to take stock of aviation development and plan the future. Air transport in Africa is an economic bridge – linking people, goods and capital to markets and industries and integrating the vast continent’.

The AFRAA Secretary General is expected to present a detailed state of the industry in Africa report highlighting the achievements, challenges and plans for the future. His presentation and the address by the Director General and CEO of IATA, Tony Tyler, are expected to set the mood for discussions of the two day summit.

The 45th AFRAA AGA is expected to conclude with the adoption of a number of resolutions urging airlines, governments and other stakeholders to act in concert to advance the course of African aviation. AFRAA will also use the occasion to present Awards to individuals and companies that distinguished themselves in the industry in 2012.

On the sidelines of the Assembly will an exhibition of aviation, equipment, component, supplies and IT solutions take place, giving airline executives first hand information on the latest state of the art equipment and services. Other exhibitors who have signed up for the exhibition include training resources, consultancy, financial and aircraft leasing service providers with more than 30 companies in total present at the venue.

Also participating in the 45th AFRAA AGA will be AFCAC, civil aviation authorities, airport companies and air navigation services providers like ASECNA.

Watch this space for breaking and regular news from Africa’s aviation industry.

Uganda News

NILE BRIDGE CONTRACT SIGNED

(Posted 27th November 2013)

The Ugandan government has finally signed the long awaited contracts with Japan’s Zenitaka Corporation and with Korea’s Hyundai Engineering and Construction Company for the new bridge over the River Nile in Jinja. Construction is now due to commence in early 2014 with a construction time of nearly 4 years anticipated before the new bridge can be opened in late 2017. Part of the road works have already commenced on both sides of the river but compensation for tenants on land which had to be acquired by the government took a while and cost a whopping 16+ billion Uganda Shillings until now, with more to come yet.

The cost of the bridge was given at approximately 350 billion Uganda Shillings and the new crossing will be a dual lane highway crossing, unlike the present bridge where oncoming traffic has made a speed limit of 20 KM/h necessary. The present bridge across the Owens Falls dam will undergo repairs and added maintenance to make sure that it remains safe and sound until the new bridge opens, after which the old bridge will according to information received from Uganda’s national roads authority offices only be used as a backup.

Transport experts have, considering the present road over the Owen Falls dam is the only direct link between the border with Kenya and the capital Kampala, questioned the wisdom of having only one road crossing, with some claiming the rush to get the Bujagali Falls project underway a few years ago caused this critical element to be neglected, when in fact Bujagali too could have been designed to have a main road cross the river there, letting an opportunity to create redundancy go to waste. Watch this space for regular and breaking news from Uganda, the Pearl of Africa.

KENYANS DOMINATE THE MTN KAMPALA MARATHON ONCE AGAIN

(Posted 25th November 2014)

Dominic Kimwetich won his second MTN Kampala Marathon in a row when he beat a large field of runners in unusually cool conditions, followed by another Kenyan runner with a Ugandan coming third. The half marathon however was an exclusive Ugandan affair on the winners’ podium as all three top positions were taken by the home boys. In the ladies full marathon did Kenya’s Glady Chepchirchir claim the winners’ medal, followed by two more Kenyan runners making this once again an all Kenyan affair too. The women’s half marathon though, like for the men, was again a Ugandan One Two Three on the podium, showing the growing talent in Uganda for long distance running, many of course inspired by Olympic and World Champion Stephen Kiprotich whose success on the international stage produced a rush of youngsters also joining the athletics sports teams across the country.

The two full marathon winners, besides honours and medals, also claimed MTN’s top prize of 14 million Uganda Shillings each.

This year’s theme was ‘Running for Water’ as shown on the poster above, raising funds to provide in particular rural and impoverished urban areas with sources of safe drinking water. Congratulations to the winners, to all the participants who finished the race, to the Uganda Police and other security forces for keeping the route and spectators arenas safe and to MTN for once again staging an event which has over the years brought top international marathon runners to Kampala to compete in the event.

Meanwhile was the annual Nile Marathon in Jinja, many had asked over the past few months what happened to that event, postponed due to logistical difficulties and will now take place in 2014. Be sure to watch this space for updates, as and when available.

Kenya News

TOURISM STAKEHOLDERS FURIOUS OVER LACK OF FUNDS FOR NEW CONVENTION CENTRE

(Posted 29th November 2013)

When tourism stakeholders from Mombasa were told yesterday during a meeting with county government officials, that plans to build a second national convention and conference centre at the coast where shelved due to lack of funds, widespread disillusionment set it, finally dousing the euphoria of past months that the new devolved system of government would work in the favour of the tourism industry. The mood turned outright angry even, going by comments received, when it was learned that the Mombasa County Government needed to raise four times as much revenue as last financial year in order to make ends meet. Two sources, which had in the past opposed the new constitution, under which a devolved system of government was created and which is now eating up Kenya’s tax revenues at record pace for recurrent expenses like salaries and allowances instead of leaving sufficient funds for investments, felt vindicated in their stand and one of them wrote: ‘If that vote for the constitution would be repeated tomorrow, no one in their right mind would again vote in favour. The devolved system of government has already shown to full of problems if not already a failure. It has instantly turned into another eating frenzy by lower level politicians. I am happy the president launched the new railway in Mombasa yesterday which is a big infrastructure investment but what we at the coast also need are roads, bridges, water, sewerage and electricity connections and we also need that second national conference centre to bring big conventions to the coast. That was promised long ago and now we are told there is no money. Kenya as a destination has a lot going for it but we are messing ourselves up the way things are run at county levels. How dare they to demand a 500 Shilling bed tax when already our occupancies are half of last year. Forget Christmas and New Year business, after that our beds will be empty and yet they want to tax them, how come?

Meanwhile is another rebellion brewing as Kenya’s tour and safari operators are demanding that KWS halt plans to raise park entrance fees from 80 US Dollars per person per day to 90 US Dollars per person per day. ‘Together with the bloody VAT on a range of tourism services this will make Kenya yet more expensive again at a time when the numbers of tourists are going down. How can we justify higher prices when our key markets still suffer from the fallout of their economic crisis and when our reputation abroad is under a cloud because of all the anti travel advisories but of course also because of what happened in Kenya. There are concerns people have and they must be addressed. I am waiting for KTB to publish the latest arrival figures for the quarter ending September 30th. Are they dragging their feet because the figures are poor or what? We should know, the sooner the better but what we do know at the coast is that our booking forecasts for the period of after New Year to Easter are as bad as they have not been since 2008. Our politicians speak with forked tongues to us. We were promised an Utalii [Kenya’s national hotel and tourism training
college presently only operating in Nairobi] campus in Mombasa, for years we hear about a second big convention centre in Bamburi, a bypass to reach the south coast and I have not even started about potholes, rubbish all over the place, beach boys etc. Something has to give because the prospect of job losses will be a big challenge for the new government. They are too preoccupied with too many things other than our key economic sector which is tourism. Maybe Hersi [Mohammed Hersi, Chairman of the Mombasa and Coast Tourism
Association and CEO of Heritage Hotels] can get through to his bosses and let them know how desperate the situation is down here at the coast’ lambasted one regular source from Mombasa the present situation. And I am not even tempted to say time will tell because time clearly is running out before more woes beset Kenya’s coast tourism sector. Watch this space.

STOP KILLING YOUR AIRLINES WITH TAXES IATA CEO TELLS AFRICAN GOVERNMENTS

(Posted 29th November 2013)

When addressing the assembled aviation community from across Africa earlier this week at the AFRAA 45th Annual General Assembly, did IATA Director General and CEO Tony Tyler not mince words when outlining some of the key obstacles African airlines face in doing business.

He in particular laid into the Kenyan government, which while professing to be business friendly in fact has taken outright hostile action against the aviation community when slapping a 1.5 percent rail levy on the aviation fuels imported into Kenya. The IATA Director General was quoted by several sources, including the Kenyan media, to have said verbatim: ‘The latest example of a misguided charge is right here in Kenya. The new rail levy tax applied on jet fuel for international flights adds an estimated US $13 million to airlines’ fuel bills every year. The VAT applied on the KPC pipeline from Mombasa to Nairobi is another example that directly affects airline costs. Global standards and recommended practices for fees and taxes also exist, particularly with regards to fuel for international flights and infrastructure charges. Unfortunately, many governments in Africa ignore them, treating aviation as a luxury rather than as a vital enabler of development’.

There was predictably no response from any government body or spokesperson to this broadside, nor is there any response in fact expected as the Kenyatta government has not exactly shown itself available and ready for open dialogue with the business community over the many issues raised vis a vis for instance the VAT act. There, as said by the IATA CEO as well as by many individuals in the tourism industry, the sector is now facing a downward spiral of less tourists in the face of sharply risen cost to which government showed not just intransigence but outright deafness to the outcries of the country’s tourism gurus.

How can we as airlines be expected to finance a transport competitor through a levy I wonder. Is there a levy anywhere in place to finance aviation in Kenya? This is the most ludicrous decision the Kenyatta government has taken and there were a few as you keep outlining in your articles’ wrote a regular aviation source in the context of this article and the comments made by Tyler while in Kenya.

The Chief Executives of Ethiopian Airlines and of South African Airways too hit out against the taxation policies of African governments resulting in 25 percent higher fuel cost compared to other parts of the world, while others decried the level of regulatory fees and taxes on tickets which often more than doubled the base fare given by airlines when it comes to paying a ticket. Meanwhile though are foreign competitors, in particular Gulf airlines, taking full advantage of their lower taxation base to siphon off more and more traffic share from African airlines, and by the consensus of delegates present at the AFRAA meeting, not just over the level of services but largely over the price of their tickets which are by and large free of taxes African airlines have to pass on to travelers.

Watch this space for breaking and regular news from the aviation industry.

IT IS AIR SHOW TIME AT WILSON AIRPORT AGAIN

(Posted 28th November 2013)

The Kenya Breweries sponsored ‘Tusker Air Show’ is returning to Nairobi’s Wilson Airport on the weekend of 14th and 15th of December, offering two days of aerial spectacles, acrobatic flying, parachuting and more for those making their way to Africa’s busiest airport. Coinciding with the long holiday weekend, on December 12th will Kenya celebrate their 50th year of Independence from Britain, the show is the aviation sector’s contribution towards the Golden Jubilee by showcasing how far the industry has come over the past 5 decades. Organizer is the Aero Club of East Africa, headquartered at Wilson Airport and has already been cited as Africa’s biggest air show ever.

Performing will the Kenya Air Force and the South African Air Force besides a host of private performances, fly pasts and more from participants across the continent and beyond.

The Aero Club will put up a tented ‘Air Show Village’, a food court and countless aircraft will be on static display with close up views and visits possible for the up to 20.000 participants expected to come to Wilson. Kenya’s top bands and music performers will give the audio background and on the evening of the closing day, 15th December, will fireworks entertain the crowds still in situ. This is truly a not to be missed event though there will be plenty of other performances during the week of Independence Day and the following weekend, before Kenya then goes into the holiday mode for Christmas and New Year.

For more information visit www.kenyaairshowfestival.com

TODAY IS D-DAY FOR NEW RAILWAY LINE

(Posted 28th November 2013)

President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to attend the ground breaking ceremony later today, when the new standard gauge railway line between Mombasa and Nairobi is launched.

With all contracts now in place, work of the first section between the two cities is expected to take until late 2016 with work on the second section from Nairobi to the Ugandan border at Busia commencing thereafter.

Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan have agreed on the construction of the new railway line to link East Africa’s main port of Mombasa with the hinterland, connecting in particular Rwanda and South Sudan which presently have no railway links and therefore depend on their entire imports and exports to be transported by road. The new railway is also expected to resume passenger train operations – presently Rift Valley Railways only operates three passenger trains per week between Nairobi and Mombasa and none at all to Kisumu – to make long distance transport safer and more affordable for the people of East Africa.

The project is largely financed by Chinese banks and the loans are guaranteed by China’s Exim Bank while Kenya will contribute to the cost of the project through a dedicated railway fund with a levy of 1.5 percent on the landed cost of all imports, which this year alone will already bring some 15 billion Kenya Shillings into the coffers of the project.

Only yesterday was it learned that for next year the Kenya government will triple its funding allocation to the railway project, showing some keen commitment to not just get it off the ground later today but to get it completed on the fast track too.

While the financing of the Kenyan sections of the new standard gauge railway is already secured are Uganda and Rwanda still negotiating over terms and conditions. South Sudan, not yet a member of the East African Community, which will incidentally hold its regular Head of State Summit this coming weekend in at the Commonwealth Resort in Munyonyo, a suburb of the capital Kampala, is also seeking to find finance for the section from the Uganda border to Juba, a substantial challenge for them as South Sudan is at the same time also seeking foreign finance for the proposed pipeline to the new port of Lamu in Kenya as well as the railway link which will run parallel to the pipeline corridor.

In a related development it was also confirmed that the new railway line will get support from the port of Mombasa which has reportedly signed an MoU with the Kenya Railways Corporation guaranteeing an unspecified amount of cargo to be committed to the new rail operation. This has raised the alarm with Rift Valley Railways it is understood, which has in recent months moved towards full compliance, if not exceeding targets, with their own concession agreement running the present narrow gauge rail line between Mombasa via Nairobi to Kampala and reactions are awaited in coming days, just how the distribution of cargo volumes will eventually play out between RVR, the new standard gauge railway very likely operated directly by Kenya Railways and the freight companies using road transport to carry containers inland.

In view of the short time available after getting the information yesterday evening it was not possible to ascertain if Presidents Museveni and Kagame will join the ground breaking ceremony in Mombasa as was for long expected.

Watch this space for regular and breaking news from across the entire East Africa.

UKUNDA AIRSTRIP DUE FOR EXPANSION

(Posted 28th November 2013)

Ukunda Airport
IATA: UKA ICAO: HKUK
Summary
Owner Kenya Airports Authority
Location Ukunda, Kenya
Coordinates 4°17′49″S 39°34′17″E
Runways
Direction Length Surface
m ft
01/19 1,174 3,851 Tarmac

The Ukunda airstrip, Diani Beach’s main aviation link to the rest of the country and preferred takeoff point for tourists going on safari using light aircraft, is due for a runway expansion it was learned.

Local visitors from Nairobi, when visiting the coast, have the option to fly from Wilson Airport with daily scheduled flights by Safarilink helping to avoid the traffic bottleneck of going via Mombasa and being subjected to the potholes, uncollected garbage and often long delays at the Likoni Ferry, plus the added driving time. The runway length at present is perfect for light single and twin engine aircraft and even larger turboprops with STOL abilities (Short Take Off / Landing) but insufficient for smaller jets like the Embraer E-jets or Bombardier’s CRJ.

The just concluded AFRAA annual general assembly brought the spotlight back on the infrastructure at the Ukunda airfield after some of the delegates suffered at the hands of the Likoni ferry with over 3 hours delay and usually well informed sources confirmed that planning for the runway expansion is well advanced, though the project has not yet reached tender stage.

Wrote the source: ‘Suffice to say that plans to increase the Ukunda airstrip’s runway length [are] at an advanced stage’. South Coast hoteliers have of late expressed their increasing frustration with central and local governments for the continued lack of a direct road link from the international airport to bypass the notorious Likoni ferry and not only spare visitors the untidy sights around the ferry landings but also get them to their resorts without often hours of delays. It is little wonder that there is increased resistance towards attempts to saddle the hotel industry with yet more taxes while service delivery and infrastructure improvements have been largely absent. Watch out for more news on Ukunda airfield developments right here, as and when more details become available.

COAST HOTELIERS TAKE ADVANTAGE OF ANTI TERRORISM TRAINING

(Posted 27th November 2013)

The Mombasa and Coast Tourism Association has on behalf of their wide ranging membership endorsed the training opportunity availed by what has been described as a ‘specialized team from Israel’, which is currently at the Kenya coast to offer special anti terrorism training.

According to information received have a number of hotels and resorts sent in key security personnel to participate in the course who can then in turn also train other staff in the new surveillance and intelligence gathering skills they acquired in the week long exercise.

The subjects taught will include mostly how to profile individuals and deal with suspect characters, the use of modern scanning equipment and the techniques used to, if necessary, overpower or contain potential attackers.

Tourism to the Kenya coast has taken a serious downturn since last year, aggravated by the Westgate attack in Nairobi, as anti travel advisories were swift to be slapped on Kenya once again by supposedly friendly countries, which in turn have encouraged Kenya to be part of the multinational force in Somalia and by form of a thank you note then in the same breath try to destroy Kenya’s crucially important tourism industry with their sharpish warnings. The latest bad news came in fact overnight when TUI Nordic apparently confirmed that their last charter arrival into Mombasa will be on 17th February already, instead as expected run the flight series until after Easter, citing low sales in the face of a reputation crisis Kenya’s adversaries have managed to spread around the world.

South Coast hoteliers, who just had an occupancy boost during the AFRAA meetings in Diani, also pointed out the lengthy waiting periods caused by Kenya Ferry Services at the Likoni ferry crossing, which according to at least one source saw delegates for that conference wait up to 3 hours to cross, not the best way to greet visitors from across Africa. ‘I agree with my colleagues who demand that Mombasa must clean up their garbage, seal the potholes and for the ferry services to finally give priority to tourism vehicles. It is bad enough they keep delaying wananchi but delaying tourists to or from their resorts damages our reputation abroad and makes our recovery marketing efforts even more difficult. Our tourists know it, their tour operators know it and the county government in Mombasa should know it if they are not busy playing ostrich about our problems or hatch new schemes to tax us more’ ranted a regular coast based source. Challenges galore for sure but there is of course the option to turn adversity into opportunity. Time will tell how well that works for coast tourism. Watch this space.

ENASHIPAI RESORT WELCOMES JAMES RATTOS AS NEW GENERAL MANAGER

(Posted 27th November 2013)

James Rattos, the immediate former Director of Sales and Marketing at the Kampala Sheraton Hotel, has now taken up his new work station in Naivasha at the Enashipai Resort & Spa. James served for the past 12 years at the Sheraton Kampala Hotel in various capacities and while in Uganda also made a significant contribution to Skal Kampala when he led the chapter as president.

The Enashipai, one of the more recent additions to the hospitality scene around Lake Naivasha, has instantly made an impact on the local Kenyan scene for its Spa concept, and with less than 100 kilometres from the Kenyan capital city of Nairobi enjoys already a growing following of health and fitness aficionados, some of whom even drive there just for the day.

Lake Naivasha is one of the Rift Valley lakes, fresh water unlike most other lakes, and has become a tourism hub in its own right with a wide range of accommodation facilities, the Naivasha Sailing Club on Crescent Island and the former home, now turned museum, of George and Joy Adamson of ‘Born Free’ fame.

Visit www.enashipai.com for more details of James’ new workplace and his new contact details can be made available on request through this correspondent.

LEOPARD BEACH AND KENYA AIRWAYS JOIN HANDS TO PROMOTE KENYA IN BANGKOK

(Posted 26th November 2013)

Promoting Kenya was on top of the agenda when the Rembrandt Hotel & Towers in Thailand’s capital of Bangkok recently hosted a Kenya Food Festival, made possible by the initiative of the Rembrandt’s General Manager Eric Hallin who staged the event with the support of Kenya Airways, which flies daily from Nairobi to Bangkok, and the Leopard Beach Resort & Spa, aka The Chui.

Executive Chef Mugami Muthunguhad gone for a stint to the Rembrandt to get up to date insight into the latest of fusion cuisine, which is popular in Thailand. Mugami will bring home with him recipes and techniques ahead of the Chui’s opening of their new African Asian Fusion Restaurant ‘The Lemon Grass’ which is due to launch soon when the new villas, named ‘The Residences’ at the Leopard Beach are commissioned, to make sure the food served will be authentic, adding no doubt to the already high culinary reputation of the Chui.

The Rembrandt and Kenya Airways had also worked hand in hand to put together the grand prize during a recent joint function of the Skal Clubs of Nairobi and Mombasa, where the winner got a free stay at the Rembrandt and was flown there courtesy of The Pride of Africa.

The Kenya Food Festival at the Rembrandt raised a lot of interest and managed to showcase Kenya from its sunniest side and the main prize was again a ticket on Kenya Airways to Mombasa, via Nairobi, a stay at the Leopard Beach Resort & Spa and a safari to the Satao Camp in Tsavo East, where game galore awaits the winner.

(From left Senator Mutahi Kagwe, Hataiporn Suwanmethajarn – Country Manager Kenya Airways for Thailand and Mekong, Dr Fred Okengo Matiangi – Cabinet Secretary for Information, Communication and Technology, Kamolnuch Bhiromsawad- Director Sales & Marketing , Diana Kiambuthi- Charge d Affaires Embassy of Kenya in the Kingdom of Thailand and Eric Hallin – Host and GM of the famous Rembrandt Hotel & Towers)

NATION ARTICLE GOT IT WRONG CLAIM TOURISM STAKEHOLDERS

(Posted 25th November 2013)

Utter rubbish’ and ‘When will these people ever get their facts right’ were just two of nearly two dozen comments received by this correspondent over an article posted by Kenya’s Daily Nation a few days ago, which spoke of 30 charter flights a week and suggested a ‘Tourism Boom’ amid acid comments from coast hoteliers operating at half their occupancies from last year and talk of worse to come.

One regular commenter, for obvious reasons wishing to remain unnamed to avoid being torn into by scribes with a now surely injured ego – something which in his mail equally applies however to the aiport manager in Mombasa who was challenged to own up and provide the real number of flights to Mombasa – had this to say, the mail slightly altered to avoid even a hint of detectability:

Reference is made to yesterday’s article in the NATION.
Considering that this incorrect reporting is widely read one must not be
surprised that our industry is not given any form of rescue package but instead is taxed more and more.
If I am not mistaken we have / will have every week
– 05 flights from Germany
– 01 flight from Switzerland until Feb 24 only
– 01 flight from NL
– 01 flight from BE
– 01 flight from the UK
– 02 flights from Poland
– 05 flights from Italy with one of them for 01 Christmas rotation only and 02 ending in February already and the 2 others in March
– 01 flight from Sweden w.e.f. Dec 24 only
– 01 Flight from Czech Republic w.e.f Dec 28 to Feb only
—-
– This totals to 18 Max.

I stand to be corrected but can some please ask Mr. Kangugo when Mombasa will
‘’hit’’ 30 flights per week and how many of these flights operate in combination with TZ and ZNZ.
Can ‘someone’ please also try and explain to Mr. Ringa of the Nation that:
– The majority of the above charter rotations are shared with ZNZ and JRO and so are ET’s and TK’s scheduled flights with the bulk of pax getting out in ZNZ and / or JRO
– Our industry cannot possibly make enough profit in 03 months to survive 09
other months with very few (5-6) charter flights only per week for some
30.000 beds (and jobs…) in the continued absence of more scheduled flights to MBA

– I am told that Mr. Ringa interviewed the MD a big safari company who
explained why Edelweiss is stopping to fly to MBA:
– a few years ago Kenya had 80% market share now reduced to 48% with the bulk
booking TZ and ZNZ
– a few years ago Kenya had 37-38.000 Swiss tourists per year – now reduced
to 18-19.000 with the market share having shifted to TZ and ZNZ
– I wonder if this will be also reported by Mr. Ringa in the Nation

Stinging criticism this is, suggesting that the author is either inept or else otherwise motivated to peddle such a wrong picture of the tourism industry at the coast, with whoever gave the information from Mombasa airport however equally culpable. Talking optimism should not be mistaken for simply peddling fiction or outright untruths which, like in this case, can be unmasked with ease and leave future statements of such nature immediately under the cloud of suspicion and mistrust. There is no wonder that the unease among coast hoteliers is growing, especially as such articles have already been used by county governments to justify their latest round of tax increases, saying ‘but the hotels are doing very well again, it is even written in the papers’.

There is todate still no indication that a national dialogue for the private and public sector is being arranged to openly and candidly discuss the present state of the industry and the where to and how to get there, something felt by many of my readers to be of crucial importance, as only by dialogue can a substantive strategy for a recovery marketing blitz in key existing and crucially important new and emerging markets can be formulated. Watch this space.

ANOTHER POACHER KILLED IN SHOOTOUT

(Posted 24th November 2013)

Information received from conservation sources in Kenya speaks of yet another shootout between rangers and poachers at the Lewa Conservancy, only 4 days after a female and reportedly pregnant Eastern Black rhino was poached on the conservancy. Information from the public was received by intelligence personnel which allowed for the ranger team to be ready and arranging for an ambush in the area where the poachers planned to enter the conservancy. During the shootout were at least three suspects injured but managed to escape for now while one of the suspected poachers was shot dead. A rife, magazine, national ID card and most important for further investigations a mobile phone were recovered from the body, while those who escaped are now being hunted by teams from KWS and other security organs involved in anti poaching operations.

Kenya in August this year formed a special task force to deal with poaching, comprising of KWS rangers, members of the paramilitary General Service Unit or in short GSU and personnel seconded from other government security agencies including regular police and intelligence services.

The source also confirmed that the group of four was involved in the poaching incident last week and earlier poaching incidents on Lewa and neighbouring conservancies and national parks. This incident follows fairly closely after two other poachers were shot dead two weeks ago, which was also reported here.

Rangers employed by conservancies are now regularly drafted into the Kenya Police Reserve, which allows them to carry arms and operate under general terms of engagement issued by the Kenya Police, after they received additional arms and operational training, a move which has already shown results as in the past rangers on private conservancies often had to wait for regular police or security services to arrive, by which time poachers had already escaped. Kenya’s new hardline approach to poaching, which has seen a number of suspects gunned down anti poaching operations, has been widely hailed as positive by the conservation community and the few objections by human rights activists over the unspoken and undocumented ‘shoot to kill’ approach been largely drowned out in a sea of overwhelmingly positive comments, that poachers at last are getting what they have been doing to Kenya’s elephant and rhinos or in the words of another regular contributor ‘Those who live by the sword die by the sword’. Hence no apologies at all when concluding, that this poacher too got what he deserved, said on behalf of Kenya’s endangered wildlife.

TAITA TAVETA EXPECTS TOURISM BOOST FROM NEW ROAD

(Posted 23rd November 2013)

The planned new highway between the border town of Taveta and Voi will open up the area to more tourist visitors when complete, allowing easier access to the more remote parts of Tsavo West and of course the Taita Hills Game Reserve, a 28.000+ acres private sanctuary owned and operated alongside the Taita Hills Lodge and the Salt Lick Lodge. The present road, arguably one of Kenya’s worst in an area of such importance to tourism and trade – this is the missing link between Arusha and Mombasa, where all other sections are now on first rate tarmac – has in the past often been cited as the key obstacle to bring more tourists into the Lake Jipe or Lake Chala area, allow visitors to pay their respects at the Commonwealth War Cemeteries at Maktau and Taveta, see the remnants of the great East African battlefields of World War I and generally stimulate economic growth and bringing in more investments into the area.

In coming days will the selected contractor be announced and it is then only a matter of time before the official ground breaking will take place, launching the construction of a modern road costing around 10 billion Kenya Shillings, which will connect the two East African neighbours of Kenya and Tanzania will go underway. Once complete the new highway link will permit the opening of a new safari circuit which includes Tsavo East, Tsavo West, the Taita Hills game sanctuary and the Wundanyi Hills, Lakes Jipe and Chala and on the other side of the border Mt. Kilimanjaro National Park and of course the little explored hills and mountains of Pare, Usambara and the hardly visited Mkomazi National Park. Trade too is thought to benefit as Tanzanian farmers will be able to ship their produce to the key market of Mombasa at a fraction of the time required now, due to the often nearly impassable dirt track, on the maps shown however as a major road to the rude awakening of foreign travellers on self drive.

The area has a lot to offer’ said a regular Mombasa based source from the safari operations side of things before adding ‘Tsavo East and West, and the Taita Hills, are an important destination for tourists from the coast. We would be happy to add for instance Lake Chala or Lake Jipe, where there are even lodges and camps, but the road right now is a real torture, for our tourists and for our cars. It is not worth breaking shocks [shockabsorbers] and springs or have the tourists disgruntled because they have to travel on such bad roads. When the new highway is ready it will be a walk in the park so to speak to send our tourists there too but for now, it is far too costly considering the damage to our cars this road does’.

Meanwhile has the Taita Taveta County also participated in the 2013 Miss Tourism Kenya event to publicize the wide range of tourism attractions in this region to the rest of the country and the wider world. With the new road coming, there is no doubt that this part of Kenya is destined for greater visibility and definitely a lot more visitors, especially as the world moves towards the centenary commemoration of World War I, and the anticipated renewed interest among war buffs to see the Battlefields East Africa. For more details on this see http://wolfganghthome.wordpress.com/2012/06/24/battlefield-east-africa/ and http://wolfganghthome.wordpress.com/2013/08/04/99-and-counting-battlefield-east-africa/. Watch this space.

Tanzania News

FASTJET ANNOUNCES LAUNCH DATE FOR LUSAKA FLIGHTS

(Posted 30th November 2013)

FastJet yesterday announced the launch date for their second international destination out of their base in Dar es Salaam. It will be Lusaka / Zambia and flights are due to commence on February 01st 2014, subject to all regulatory approvals, this pointed out as a result of the South African civil aviation body only recently pulling a fast one on FastJet, pun intended, when they halted the inaugural flight just hours before takeoff over sudden requests for additional documentation, in airline lingo and reading between the lines a message that they had bowed to pressure from a third party at the time to keep FastJet off the route for a bit longer.

FastJet will use their Airbus A319 for their next destination and has proposed to fly initially twice a week, joining Zambia’s Pro-Flight on the route. Cost for the ticket was given as approximately US Dollars 75, one way, and in typical FastJet style subject to all regulatory fees and taxes. This position of advertising only a fragment figure of what a traveller has to pay continues to baffle both consumer advocate groups and aviation observers, why the airline cannot, as it by the way has to under local law in South Africa, show the full cost of the ticket a client has to pay, always with the rider of course of extra charges for checked in baggage.

Watch this space for news updates nearer to the time of the inaugural flight, and to learn of any other new destinations FastJet may intend to launch until then.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY FASTJET

(Posted 29th November 2013)

Tanzania’s low cost airline FastJet is today reaching their first anniversary since taking to the skies a year ago with a flight from Dar es Salaam to Kilimanjaro and Mwanza.

During the past 12 months has the airline carried around 355.000 passengers, an impressive number by any standards for an upstart airline, especially in Africa. Since then has FastJet added more destinations, on the domestic routes to Zanzibar and to Mbeya, where after only a few weeks of operations the sign are that FastJet will go from 3 flights a week to daily flights, while Johannesburg turned out to be FastJet’s first international destination instead the much awaited flights to Nairobi. FastJet faced huge hurdles put in their way for the flights to South Africa when the South African civil aviation body allegedly succumbed to pressure by home boys SAA to keep FastJet off the route a little longer with surprise last moment demands for more documentation one the very eve of the inaugural flight. SAA according to sources in Dar es Salaam is already facing the music over such what has been considered and mentioned repeatedly ‘foul play’ and is suffering from having to offer lower fares and flying with lower occupancies on their daily flights.

For today has FastJet announced the special sale of 1.000 seats on their entire network at the cost of the lowest fare, normally only obtainable weeks in advance, being 160.000 Tanzania Shillings to Johannesburg and 32.000 Tanzania Shillings for domestic flights to give travellers the opportunity to sample what it is like over the skies of Tanzania and down to South Africa.

One issue continues to dog the airline however, which is the fact that they continue to refuse to outright advertise the final cost of a ticket, to which in addition fees for checked baggage have to be paid on check in. This issue has remained a thorn in the side of consumer protection bodies as well as others promoting honest advertising, citing the way European regulators have imposed rules to only show the final cost one has to pay and do away with the early days of false advertising by LCC’s showing 1 Pound or 1 Euro fares to which then a huge amount of money had to be added for regulatory charges, taxes and fees.

That notwithstanding however, today it is Happy Birthday to FastJet in Tanzania and happy landings for the next twelve months and beyond.

TANZANIA RISKS GOODWILL OF CONSERVATION FRATERNITY OVER CITES APPLICATION

(Posted 29th November 2013)

Crush it or burn it’ was the tenor of reactions when it became known that Tanzania was still scheming to get CITES permission to sell ivory stocks, after running into global opposition at the last CITES meeting and following a number of objections by the CITES Secretariat in Lusaka over glaring anomalies of the application vis a vis the reality of conservation and anti poaching measures on the ground at the time.

Tanzania then withdrew the application, or so media releases suggested, making the local, regional and international conservation fraternity sit up and take notice when none other than the Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism Amb. Khamis Kagesheki, seemed to suggest at a workshop earlier in the week that the application to sell ivory was back on the table. Kagesheki was quoted by a source attending the meeting to have said that the proceeds would go towards conservation and anti poaching work, but both his predecessors in office were faulted over vague commitments and leaving too many back doors open that some of those funds a potential sale of blood ivory could generate would go to other budget lines, a stark reality of course for all those who know the inner workings of governments in the region, if not worldwide.

Sale of ivory must no longer be tolerated. The carving businesses in Vietnam and China and Thailand and elsewhere in the Far East must be put out of business and any form or trade or processing or possession criminalized because otherwise in ten years our elephant will be gone. CITES must at last realize that this is a historic opportunity for them and failure will not be tolerated. If America can crush all those ivory pieces they confiscated, and those were of immense value on the black market for their carvings and all, then Tanzania can at least emulate Kenya and either burn the ivory they have or else emulate America and crush it. This would bring global focus back on Tanzania as a country which means conservation when they utter the word and the tourism industry could capitalize big time on such an event’ wrote the source when passing the information.

While Kagesheki himself enjoys a reputation as a ‘doer’ and a no nonsense man, can his assurance nevertheless not be taken for granted in the wider context of how the Tanzanian government has in recent years behaved vis a vis conservation, with the source citing such well known examples like the withdrawal of the UNESCO WHS status application for the Eastern Arc Mountains, the controversial Serengeti highway and the even more controversial mining for uranium in the Selous, to add to the latter the planned hydro electric dam at Stieglers’ Gorge and the planned destruction of the Coelacanth habitat through a new deep sea port at Mwambani.

Kagesheki’s mention of the need for political will in fighting anti poaching also went to the core of the problem in Tanzania, which according to available data lost at least 10.000 elephant last year and in all likelihood even more this year, following a record find of blood ivory only recently in Zanzibar and other seizures in Dar es Salaam before. Hard choices must be made by governments in Africa within the elephant ranges, if to continue turn a blind eye to the escalating problem of commercial scale poaching or to protect their wildlife and in the process secure the foundation for their largely wildlife based tourism sectors. Watch this space.

SERENA’S KIRAWIRA CAMP GETS TOP RATINGS BY CONDE` NAST – AGAIN

(Posted 29th November 2013)

The latest Conde Nast rankings are out and Serena Hotels, only recently named as Africa’s Best Hotel Brand during the 2013 World Travel Award Ceremony, has once again made it into the top rankings in the world, when their Kirawira Camp in the Western Serengeti made it to the 10 position of Africa’s very best safari camps and lodges.

On Conde Nast’s coveted Gold List – Best Places on Earth did Kirawira achieve a 172 out of a possible maximum 182 points, underscoring the level of consistent quality Serena offers in their properties across the Eastern African region. Besides Kirawira did other Serena properties make it into the top 25, with Amboseli Serena coming in on 14th place, Serengeti Serena in 15th and Mara Serena in 18th place, making it an astonishing four among the top 25 in Africa for Serena.

All of Serena’s East African city hotels, Kampala, Kigali, Nairobi and Dar es Salaam got recognized by the World Travel Awards as the best of the best in these respective cities and notably did the Amboseli Serena Lodge, now listed among the Conde Nast top 25 in Africa, also get an award at the time.

Serena Hotels now owns and operates 24 safari camps, safari lodges, resorts and hotels in East Africa and Mozambique, among them several others deserving of a top ranking by Conde Nast, like the two properties in the Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania or the Elementaita Serena Camp on the Soysambu Conservancy at Lake Elementaita. Plenty of scope still and all winners in their own right. Visit www.serenahotels.com for more information about locations, tariffs and bookings and www.condenast.com or www.condenasttraveler.com for added information on Conde Nast’s best around the world.

FASTJET TANZANIA APPOINTS NEW DIRECTORS

(Posted 29th November 2013)

FastJet yesterday announced the appointment of new directors to the board of their Tanzanian company, adding a total of four new names to the current number of directors already in place. Notably were two local Tanzanians appointed to the board as non executive directors, one Mr. Ami Mpungwe and one Mr. Lawrence Masha.

Mr. Ami Mpungwe, according to the FastJet media release, has been described as one of Tanzania’s most respected diplomats. He spent 25 years in the Tanzanian diplomatic service, including six years as Tanzania’s first Ambassador to South Africa. In 1999, he received the Order of Good Hope, South Africa’s highest award granted to foreign citizens for his contribution to Peace and Democracy in South Africa and in the SADC region and for establishing closer bilateral ties between South Africa and Tanzania.

Mr. Mpungwe brings a wealth of regional business experience to the fastjet Board. He is Non-Executive Deputy Chairman of AIM-listed Richland Resources Ltd and is Chairman of TanzaniteOne Mining Ltd, SAGCOT Catalytic Fund and MultiChoice Tanzania. Other directorships include ILLOVO Sugar Ltd., Tanzania Breweries Ltd and NIKO Insurance Ltd. Mr. Mpungwe holds a BA (Hons) degree in International Relations and Political Science and a diploma in International Law.

The second Tanzanian director, as per the media release at hand, is Mr. Lawrence Masha, described as a prominent lawyer and businessman with strong political ties throughout Africa. He is Managing Partner at IMMMA Advocates (a member of the DLA Piper Group) in Dar es Salaam and has served in a variety of senior political positions in the Tanzanian Government.

In 2005, he was elected as Member of Parliament for Nyamagana Constituency (the City of Mwanza) and between January 2006 and November 2010 he held the roles of Deputy Minister of Energy and Minerals, Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, as well as Minister of Home Affairs. Mr Masha has held senior positions in a variety of businesses within Tanzania, including being Managing Director of Tanzania Oxygen Limited, the first company to be listed on the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange. Mr. Masha holds an LL.B (Hons) from the University of Dar es Salaam and a LLM in International and Comparative Law from the Georgetown University Law Center in Washington DC. In 2010 the World Economic Forum nominated Mr. Masha as Tanzania’s first Young Global Leader. Mr. Masha currently serves as Chairman of the Tanga Cement Company and Ecoprotection Tanzania Limited and is a Non-Executive Director of Basix East Africa Limited and Blue Financial Services Limited.

Also appointed to the board were Mr. Richard Bodin, Chief Commercial Officer of Fastjet PLC and Angus Saunders, the CFO of the company.

The full announcement, as required incidentally under the rules of the London Stock Exchange where FastJet PLC is listed, can be found through the following web link: www.londonstockexchange.com/exchange/news/market-news/market-news-detail.html?announcementId=11788173

Watch this space for breaking and regular aviation news from the Eastern African region.

SWAHILI FASHION WEEK VERSION 6.0

(Posted 26th November 2013)

The 6th edition of the Swahili Fashion Week is gearing up to its ‘active phase’ with model casting concluded last Sunday at the Golden Tulip Hotel in Dar es Salaam. The main events for this year are now coming up fast with a Shopping Festival where Swahili Fashion is on sale, runway shows and of course the grand finale, the Award Gala Night, all taking place also at the Golden Tulip Hotel. This year will 26 Tanzanian designers showcase their creations as will a further 18 from 9 countries in the wider East African region.

Unlike last year’s event, where the Swahili Fashion Week made regional appearances, this year’s event will be restricted to Dar es Salaam alone.

Inspired by the success of Mustafa Hassanali’s Swahili Fashion Week have similar events, showcasing local designers, fabrics and even accessories sprung up, notably represented by the recently concluded Zanzibar Fashion Week and the Nairobi Fashion Week a few months ago with Uganda and Rwanda expected to launch their own evens in 2014.

East African fashion clearly has arrived on the scene, putting its own mark on the world of the Haute Couture and making waves in the shops and boutiques too where the latest creations reportedly sell like hot cakes as the clientele has become more fashion conscious and more aware of just what great variety of uniquely East African colours, fabrics and designs are now available.

Visit www.swahilifashionweek.com for more information including where to get tickets for the finals which take place between 05th and 08th of December.

Rwanda News

THREE TWO ONE – GIRDLESTONE WINS TOUR OF RWANDA ON THIRD ATTEMPT

(Posted 25th November 2013)

South Africa’s Dylan Girdlestone won the Tour of Rwanda on his third attempt, following a runner up second place last year and his third place two years ago when he made his first appearance in the land of a thousand hills.

The annual cycling event keeps drawing in more and stronger teams every year, putting Rwanda on the continental map of cycling, with this tour event part of the African cycling racing calendar.

The 804 kilometre tour across almost the entire country is also helping Rwanda to showcase her cultural and natural attractions like the three national parks or the scenic shores of Lake Kivu, promoting travel to the country beyond just cycling events.

Another major cycling event is according to a regular tourism source in Kigali planned to coincide with the 10 edition of the annual Festival of the Gorillas, aka Kwita Izina in June next year. The programme in 2014 is expected to run for 10 days ahead of the actual naming ceremony to give opportunity to showcase a conservation symposium, cultural tourism, nature based tourism and sporting tourism events from Kigali across the entire country. Well done to the winner and all participants in this event.

South Sudan News

FLY DUBAI TO GO DAILY TO JUBA

(Posted 28th November 2013)

Fly Dubai has announced plans to move from their present 4 flights a week between Dubai and Juba to daily flights in 2014. The airline made the announcement at the end of the Dubai Air Show when giving an overview on their future route developments. The increase in flights is according to a source in Juba justified as many of the flights are sold out as a result of attractive prices and for offering nonstop flights to Dubai unlike other airlines. Juba was also among the first international routes where Fly Dubai offered their new premium business class, a novel approach for an otherwise LCC airline.

Fly Dubai during the Dubai Air Show placed orders with Boeing worth 11 billion US Dollars for up to 100 of the new generation B737Max as well as a further 11 B737-800NG’s. This year alone has Fly Dubai added 16 new destinations and as new aircraft are delivered additional frequencies and new destinations are served. Notably though is Dubai’s low cost airline only flying to Addis Ababa and Juba at present of all the possible East African destinations though usually well informed sources from civil aviation authorities in the region have reported that additional airports have apparently been researched by Fly Dubai. Only Air Arabia is presently serving Nairobi with daily flights of all the Gulf’s LCC’s, clearly leaving room for expansion. Watch this space for breaking and regular aviation news from the entire Eastern African region.

Vanilla Islands

Mauritius

MAURITIUS LOSES OUT TO MALDIVES ONCE AGAIN

(Posted 28th November 2013)

The slogan ‘Mauritius, it’s a pleasure’ is for certain not on the lips of many tourism stakeholders, after details became available that the Maldives, a recent addition to the Vanilla Island Organization, of which Mauritius appears to be a rather reluctant member, have already exceeded the one million visitor mark this year.

For many years was Mauritius the destination among the Indian Ocean islands off the African mainland but has over the past few years progressively lost ground to in particular the Maldives, which for the first time ever in 2012 overtook Mauritius and claim top spot in terms of arrivals. Even Sri Lanka, which popularity got a boost earlier this month when the island hosted the Commonwealth Summit which added to its visibility in key core markets for their tourism industry. In contrast have Mauritius’ hotelier and DMC’s taken issue with their own tourism promotion agency, the MTPA, which has been accused to have gone stale, doing copycat acts on neighbours Seychelles’ successful marketing juggernaut and failed to come up with a strategy to restore Mauritius tourism leadership, in terms of not just numbers but also in terms of respectability and global industry recognition.

Wrote a regular source from Port Louis when discussing the latest setback, after information became available that the Maldives went through the million visitor mark on 24th November already, giving them 6 more weeks to establish a new visitor record for any of the Indian Ocean islands: ‘We struggle with our government to relax their tight hold on aviation so that we can have more seats on more airlines. We appreciate the efforts and contributions Air Mauritius makes to our sector, there cannot be any doubt that they are trying hard, but a lot more must be done to fill all the new beds which have come up. When you tell me that the Maldives have a bed occupancy now of nearly 74 percent average per year, that is a figure hoteliers in Mauritius can only dream of. Seychelles has increased their visitor number year after year for the past 5 years and we have lost ground. That can have many reasons, but a bad product is not one of them. We have some of the Indian Ocean’s best resorts and they get awards year in year out for their exceptional quality. The main issue is that we have failed to showcase ourselves to the world as we used to do in the past and only a fundamental change at MTPA can accomplish that. We need to take a leaf from what the Seychelles did in 2008 when they started to restructure their tourist board and bring the private sector on board. The second issue is to re-enfranchise all communities in Mauritius and make them part of the whole. Internal divisions and segregation continues to haunt us and do not think for a moment that this has gone unnoticed abroad. For me it is almost as if we have developed our own form of apartheid, politically and as a society. We have top resorts, excellent beaches and even a new look airport, what is lacking is to come together and reinvent ourselves, rebrand ourselves abroad but MTPA the way they are cannot deliver that any longer’.

Harsh words but not new sentiments, as this had been lingering for a while now but with no light as yet on the horizon that the Mauritius government will indeed take notice or understand what it takes to rekindle the destination appeal the island once had. Watch this space for breaking and regular news from the Vanilla Islands.

Reunion

REUNION TOURISM HOSTS SOUTH KOREAN DELEGATION

(Posted 28th November 2013)

The IRT, aka Reunion Tourism, last Saturday hosted the first ever group of Korean travelers, staying at the Reunion Island from 23rd to 28th November 2013. Since their arrival has the group been every day on the trails of the island to explore the tropical vegetation, volcanic landscapes and other natural attractions of Reunion Island.

DMC ‘21st Parallel’ provided a program tailor-made for the twelve Korean travelers. The Korean visitors have already discovered the beautiful country with a tour of Saint – Denis on the first day before exploring the lush Salazie. Also on the programme for the Korean group was a visit to the Piton de la Fournaise, one of the most active volcanoes in the world, for a hike through the lunar landscape of this natural site listed as World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The Korean travelers spent their last night at a Saint-Gilles resort for an opportunity to discover the beaches of the island.

(Reunion Tourism CEO Pascal Viroleau seen here welcoming the first ever tour group from South Korea)

Korea has been identified by IRT as a source market with high potential where Reunion Tourism intends to promote the destination and its wide range of attractions, offering beaches, mountains, trails and tours through the often picture perfect countryside. Reunion, part of the recently launched Vanilla Island Organization, has in recent months made special efforts to widen its visitor base after relying in the past almost exclusively on the French domestic market. Visa waivers were put into place for South Africa and similar arrangements are being prepared for Chinses visitors to the island, to circumnavigate the otherwise much more stringent Visa conditions for non EU visitors to France. Towards that end has Reunion Tourism worked closely with the Seychelles where it will next April for the fourth time attend the Carnival International de Victoria with an official delegation, using the media exposure this Vanilla Island event generates to position itself as a unique Indian Ocean island destination in its own right. For more details check www.reunion.fr about visits to this French Indian Ocean Island with its unique blend of European infrastructure and Creole culture.

LUX RESORTS INTRODUCE PROACTIVE BLOG FOR GUESTS

(Posted 24th November 2013)

The Reunion, Mauritius and Maldives based LUX Resorts have now introduced a new way to interact with their guests and let them express their experiences while on location or when back home. LUX operates three top of the range resorts on the island of Mauritius, one in the Maldives and one, visited back in September, on the French Indian Ocean Island of La Reunion. Until now guests only had the option to file their feedback either directly with the resorts or else write reviews on TripAdvisor (http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g298470-d1473791-r177962334-LUX_Ile_de_La_Reunion-Saint_Gilles_Les_Bains_Arrondissement_of_Saint_Paul.html) to which the LUX management incidentally responds promptly but the introduction of an interactive blog gives guests the added option to share their experiences with other guests, close up, personal and in real time.

The Reunion LUX Resort is by the way rated by TripAdvisor as St. Gilles Les-Bains number one resort out of 17 among the 17 listings for that location on TA. Time to visit then, and time to do some blogging.

Seychelles News

SEYCHELLES TOURISM BOARD’S ROLE REDEFINED

(Posted 29th November 2013)

The just concluded annual marketing conference of the Seychelles Tourism Board, held at the Le Meridien Barbarons, this year discussed not only the way forward for the year 2014 and beyond but also took stock on the various distribution of functions, aimed at making STB an even more effective marketing force.

Information received from Mahe speaks of the new set up, likely to be reinforced by the planned move of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture into new purpose built premises where the Ministry will share the building with STB, which would move from their present offices in Bel Ombre, to give a clearer understanding of the functions carried by the various government bodies.

It is understood that the Ministry will give policy guidelines to the sector, both private and public, provide regulations and set standards for tourism businesses and issue relevant licenses among other functions like international relations within the government’s regular framework.

With STB now fully concentrating on their marketing function, a new department will apparently be created to address the organization and running of events, very likely then also situated in the same joint premises which should be ready by the second quarter of next year.

Minister Alain St. Ange, when delivering the key note address, confirmed that the Seychelles were on course for a new arrival record with approximately 228.000 visitors at the end of December, well ahead of the forecast increase which at the beginning of 2013 was cautiously given as between 3 and 4 percent. Minister St. Ange also confirmed that while Europe remained the archipelago’s largest market, Asia was catching up fast and with visitor numbers from China alone growing this year by a remarkable 74 percent, Asia overall was up by 21 percent compared with 2013. South Africa, now connected with the Seychelles three times a week with the Air Seychelles Airbus A330, has emerged as the islands’ third largest single market while the Gulf region too has registered a growth of 11 percent year on year.

The Seychelles Tourism Board will in upcoming activities pay special attention to reclaiming the lucrative cruise business by attracting cruise lines to come back to call on Port Victoria, as part of either global itineraries or else as part of the Vanilla Island Organization’s focus to have cruiselines begin to offer a regional cruise itinerary.

The private sector also expressed satisfaction over the announcement that a dedicated senior marketing position for small and medium sized Seychellois owned businesses has been created, tasked to vigorously promote such niches as Seychelles Secrets and budget accommodation facilities, which play an increasing role in helping to fill the added seats now available by airlines flying into Mahe.

Last but not least was it revealed that a new proactive website was in the making due to be launched sometime in 2014, as was a new destination documentary being finalized to showcase the Seychelles islands from their best side and to stay ahead of the regional and global competition. As the saying goes: Seychelles, truly Another World. Watch this space for regular news updates from the Seychelles islands.

(Minister Alain St. Ange seen here with the entire team from STB and key individuals from STA and the Ministry’s tourism department)

AND in closing the weekly dose of worthwhile reads from Gill Staden’s The Livingstone Weekly

National Airline in Zambia

There were a few reports this week about Zambia planning to re-establish a national airline; some reports stating that it will happen next year. Definitely it would be good to have another airline to give Proflight some competition, but I doubt that it will happen. According to one report the government is looking for a private investor. As we know, Proflight prices are very high; also we know that British Airways has recently stopped flying to Zambia. There has to be a financial reason for this. Unless the government subsidises a National Airline as Zimbabwe does, I cannot see that it is really on the cards.

BOTSWANA

A missed opportunity on elephants

Editorial in the Ngami Times

When word started getting around that Botswana is to host an emergency African Elephant Summit on December 2-4, 2013, residents of Chobe and Ngamiland naturally started rekindling hope that finally the elephant problem is being addressed.

Looking at the provisional programme for that summit, clearly such optimism turns out to be misplaced. The emergency elephant summit is exclusively about illegally killing of elephants and the illegal trade in ivory, and its objective is to adopt a commitment and accompanying urgent measures to that effect.

The elephant burden of over-population that Botswana carries is nowhere covered in the summit agenda. Yet the country has the highest population of African elephants in the world, with Chobe and Ngamiland being home to more than 90% of the Botswana’s 207 545 elephants.

These numbers are not only growing exponentially annually but have also surpassed the elephant habitat’s carrying capacity. As a result, elephants are expanding their range to encroach on settled areas, leading to the otherwise avoidable human/wildlife conflict.

In its report in August this year, the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) rightly called for the necessity “to balance the elephants’ role as a contributor to the maintenance of biodiversity on the one hand, and ecosystem degradation on the other.”

It, therefore, comes as a shock that the Botswana government has missed this rare opportunity to include the concern of over-population into the agenda of the forthcoming emergency elephant summit. We strongly feel this issue is equally important as those of illegal killing of elephants and illegal trade in ivory; and should have been included in the agenda.

Strangely though, the Botswana government together with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) were charged with developing the first draft of the urgent measures to be considered at the summit.

Is it perhaps because our government does not regard the over-population issue as a crisis? Conclusively then, Botswana’s stance on the elephant over-population issue remains as clear as mud.

For instance, the selection of the location for the hosting of this important summit could be indicative of government’s apparent confusion on the matter. Why would one choose Gaborone for such an important summit on elephants while Kasane in the Chobe could have been the most appropriate venue?

What a missed opportunity to take summit delegates on a short tour of the nearby Chobe National Park to witness first hand the devastation wrought by elephant over-population! As we have previously pointed out in this newspaper, this is another glaring evidence of government’s appalling lack of communication and lobbying skills.

Government cannot continue to wish this problem away. Chilli peppers and wildlife corridors approaches cannot be the only solutions. By the time government awakens to this reality it will be too late for the country’s conservation, including the elephants themselves.

NAMIBIA

Conservation and tourism intersect

From Informanté

Uamunikaije Tjivinda squat­ted in the sand and threw a few strips of dried giraffe meat into a pot of boiling water. Like many Himba women in the arid, north­western part of Namibia called Kaokoland, she wore sandals, a goatskin skirt and little else. Her skin and long, plaited hair were a striking rust-red, rubbed with ocher dug from the earth.

From nearby hills, other women with young children converged, standing quietly around Tjivinda’s domed hut, their eyes downcast. Remy Scalza and his wife, tourists to Namibia unpacked gifts brought on the advice of their guide – corn­meal, tea, sugar and other supplies hard to find here.

Though no longer a novelty for these women, these sorts of encounters with tourists are still new enough to be awkward. Only when the food came out did they smile and start to talk.

“The conservancy has been good for us,” Tjivinda said in the local Otjihimba dialect, which our guide translated. “Wildlife are cared for like our own livestock, and money from tourism goes into our conservancy bank account.” Goats wandered by as the women sat down to braid hair.

For nearly two decades, Na­mibia residents, has been part of an ambitious experiment in both community tourism and wildlife conservation, known as commu­nal conservancies. “The idea was to fight poaching by restoring control over wildlife to the local people,” said John Kasaona, the director of Integrated Rural De­velopment and Nature Conserva­tion, the primary NGO behind the initiative.

In 1996, groundwork laid by the organisation paved the way for new laws giving tribal communi­ties – who previously had limited rights to resources on communal lands – the ability to form conserv­ancies and self-manage their wild­life. “We wanted to show them that they could benefit financially from keeping these animals alive, in particular from wildlife tour­ism,” said Kasaona, who would spend years canvassing the coun­tryside, explaining the model vil­lage by village. “Try convincing people who were made these same promises years ago by a colonial regime and then robbed of their land,” he said. “At first, no one trusted us.”

In the years since, the plan has been a resounding – and rare – suc­cess story for African wildlife. Seventy-nine conservancies now cover a full 20% of Namibia. Populations of desert lions, de­sert elephants and black rhinos, all threatened with extinction in the early ’90s, have increased several times over, while poach­ing has plummeted. (One rhino was poached in Namibia last year, compared with 668 in neighboring South Africa.) Meanwhile, con­servancies throughout the country have teamed up with international tourism operators, giving ordinary travelers unprecedented access to both animals and local culture. …

SOUTH AFRICA

Biodiversity Stewardship

Recently the Chief Executive Officer of Kwa-Zulu Natal (KZN), Bandile Mkhize, has announced that 100,000 ha (1,000 sq km) has come under the Biodiversity Stewardship Programme. It also seems likely that another 300,000 ha will come under the same programme – discussions are underway with landowners. It made me find out more about the programme, so here are details from Conservation South Africa with a map I have borrowed from the web.

Biodiversity Stewardship as a mechanism for adaptation to climate change

It has become a priority in conservation organisations across South Africa to develop projects that will ensure the maintenance of an environment that can enable biodiversity to adapt to changing climate. The Biodiversity Stewardship Programme, begun by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and now managed by Wildlands Conservation Trust, aims to achieve just that by securing core conservation areas and employing Biodiversity Stewardship as a tool for improving the conservation management of these sites.

How it works

Stewardship processes identify land of critical importance for biodiversity conservation and/or the provision of ecosystem services and encourage private and communal landowners to engage in biodiversity conservation and other sustainable land use practices. They maintain ownership of their land, receive guidance and management assistance, and are supported to diversify their land-based activities to create sustainable livelihoods, all the while protecting the country’s unique biodiversity against the threat of climate change.

KZN is home to a rich diversity of plant and animal life. Currently, at least 80 percent of the important biodiversity lies outside formally protected areas, on privately or communally owned land. The Biodiversity Stewardship Programme helps to secure some of these areas for long-term biodiversity conservation while maintaining the productivity of the landscape for landowners as well. A further, central aim is the creation of a network of protected areas linked as corridors across the landscape in order to improve the ability of species to adapt to climate change. Biodiversity Stewardship involves formal, legally binding agreements with landowners for a minimum of 30 years. …

From the Painted Dog Foundation

Makwandara Primary School is the newest school to be added to our free of-charge Children’s Bush Camp programme. All because of a goat!

In my last update I told the story of dogs killing a goat. Rather than seeking compensation or retribution for his lost goat, the villager, Mr. Nyathi, accepted his loss because he understood how PDC has helped his community at large with projects such as the HIV/AIDS programme and the construction of bore holes to provide fresh water.

After hearing of Mr. Nyathi’s reaction, Forgie, Wilton, Jealous and I discussed how we could acknowledge his trust in us and how we could show our appreciation to the entire village. The unanimous decision was to invite his community’s school to become part of our world-class Children’s Bush Camp programme.

Wilton followed all the necessary protocols and the day came when the PDC delegation arrived at the school to meet the Headmaster, teachers and parents. Mr Nyathi was guest of honour.

Speeches were made by all and a certificate handed over as the formal invitation for the grade six children to attend our Bush Camp in 2014. We then arranged a familiarisation tour of our facilities for selected parents and village representatives. The excitement and enthusiasm was evident and a delight for all of us here at PDC to witness.

This small moment in the life of a village represented a truly significant breakthrough for us. Shifts such as these, from attitudinal change to behavioural change, will help pave the way to a brighter future for the dogs.

Hwange National Park:

Life on the front line of conservation has many ups and downs. Many of you have become all too familiar with the sagas that have unfolded over the years, often captured in these updates. This year has been no exception. Earlier in the year I wrote of our ultimately futile attempts to save the life of the Kutanga pack’s alpha female, Ester. As I write this, the Kutanga pack is again in turmoil following the death of Shoulder Spot and the alpha male, BT, leaving only MK and Surf. But a ray of hope emerged recently when a new female, named Kerin, bonded with Surf, breathing new life into what we still refer to as the Kutanga pack.

Four packs (that we know of) in the Hwange Main Camp area had pups this year. The highest number we have recorded in a long time. We cling to these glimmers of hope. . The Nyamandhlovu pack had ten pups, bringing the pack total up to 15. Currently, however, only seven pups survive with the five adults. One of the pups almost drowned in a concrete water trough but was fortunately rescued by a park scout.

Surely an example, if ever there was one, that anything can and does happen to the pups and that the fate of the lost three is for speculation or a wild guess. Jealous saw the pack only yesterday and they are very fit and healthy. Our optimism for their survival remains high as calving season begins soon and will provide the adult dogs with a relatively easy and abundant source of prey to feed the hungry pups.

Jealous is busy. He has recently tracked down the Broken Rifle pack, which had been sighted first at the Broken Rifle water hole during September and then again at Ngweshla water hole. This pack of seven adults and four pups is new to us and a real pleasure to watch.

The elusive Kanondo pack spends most of its time in the Gwayi Conservancy to the East of us and, as a result, is rarely seen. A recent sighting, followed upon by Jealous, confirmed that the pack consists of four adults and five pups.

This Sisele pack typifies the problems in Hwange. On average the pack sizes are still small and so pup survival is not great. The simple equation is that the more adults in the pack, the more pups survive.

How the dogs are able to reach those magic numbers like we see in Mana Pools, where packs of 20+ exist, provides us with many sleepless nights. Still, we cling to any positive news, no matter how small, and for now we are celebrating seeing more dogs in and around Hwange Main Camp.

Greg has spent time this year in the Sinamatella / Robins region of Hwange, which is to the west of us and indicated on the map. He reports seven packs there. He estimates the Hwange National Park population to be 30 packs numbering approximately 120 dogs. Fewer than would be expected in a National Park that is almost 15,000 square kilometers (5,700 square miles) in size. Still it is the best it’s been for many years, so it brings out that famous big smile of Jealous!

Below is a map illustrating the approximate locations of the six packs in and around Hwange National Park that Jealous will search for on any given day. You can follow his daily Notes From the Field on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Painted-Dog-Conservation/189193720940

2 Comments

Comments are closed.