Wednesday, May 16, 2012

► KENYA: Virgin Atlantic to drop Nairobi from September 2012.

Virgin logo
Richard Branson's Virgin Atlantic Airways (VS) will, with effect from September 24, end its London Heathrow - Nairobi flights sighting low passenger numbers and higher overheads amongst other factors. No doubt, this will come as relief to Kenya Airways who in January 2012 issued a profit warning for the First Quarter of 2012.

Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Atlantic's B747-400

“During the past five years a combination of record fuel prices, higher and higher taxes imposed by the UK Government and a poorly timed slot not providing connections from London, have made it uneconomical to fly from Nairobi,” said Sir Branson in statement from London.

“For the past five years our team in Nairobi have worked incredibly hard and we hope to return should the economic situation change.”
Read More Here [Business Daily Kenya]

This comes at a time when various European carriers are axing various African routes citing route viability problems: of recent note Iberia (Johannesburg)TAP (Johannesburg).

Virgin Atlantic has stated, however, that it will maintain its other African routes to Accra, Lagos and Johannesburg.

► SOUTH AFRICA: Emirates to boost Durban to B777-300ER daily from June.

Since its inauguration in May 2010 in time for the FIFA World Cup of 2010 held in South Africa, Durban's King Shaka International Airport has being growing from strength to strength.
Durban Airport
Durban's King Shaka International Airport
Following reports last week that regional carrier SA Express were to start Durban to Lusaka flights effective July 2012 with the intention of hopefully then expanding out into sub-Saharan Africa with routes to Harare and Lubumbashi, so Emirates Airlines (EK) has thrown its hat into the ring and is to replace its current Dubai - Durban daily service using an Airbus A330, with a larger Boeing 777-300ER with effect from June.
"The introduction of the Boeing 777-300ER is in response to strong demand on the route. In 2011, Emirates carried over 165 000 passengers between Durban and Dubai with a high average seat factor of 83 percent,” said Jean Luc Grillet, Emirates senior vice-president for commercial operations in Africa."

► RWANDA: RwandAir orders Q400NG; adds Mwanza from July.

Following on from yesterday's conclusion of the Bombardier Q400NG Roadshow in Kigali, RwandAir has announced its intention to buy a Bombardier Q400NG turboprop, to replace its existing ageing fleet of Bombardier Dash 8s, which presently fly short routes from Kigali to Kamembe, Gisenyi, Bujumbura and onto new destination, Mwanza in Tanzania.

Bombardier Q400 NextGen Africa Tour
Bombardier Q400 NextGen Africa Tour

 "After a flight demonstration to Kamembe by the Bombardier team yesterday, RwandAir’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), John Mirenge, said that the move is part of the carrier’s expansion plans.“This is a good aircraft with new features and enough seating capacity,” he pointed out.       

The Sales Director for Bombardier Aerospace, Sameer Adam, said the 74 seat capacity aircraft has the ability to operate from shorter runways and deliver the quietest and most vibration free passenger cabin of any propeller driven aircraft.  He explained that the aircraft was designed to meet the requirements for high-density, short-haul services. "

Bombardier's aircraft appear to have become a hit with the Rwandan airline, as in March, they decided to replace their two CRJ-200 with two CRJ-900NGs to be delivered in October of this year.

In addition to the new aircraft, it was also announced that RwandAir would start a 3x weekly Kigali - Mwanza, Tanzania service using a Dash-8, with effect from 2 July 2012.

RwandAir: Kigali - Mwanza (from 2 July 2012)
  • WB401 KGL1115 – 1315MWZ DH8 136
  • WB402 MWZ1345 – 1345KGL DH8 136
Read More Here [Airline Route]

► GHANA: LCC FastJet to lease 15 new aircraft "soon".

FastjetBacked by EasyJet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou and Lonrho-related "Rubicon Diversified Investments", Ghana's soon-to-be LCC FastJet plans to lease 15 aircraft of type and size unknown as of this writing, though co-shareholder Rubicon has insisted that aircraft are maintained to a "European standard".
"Fastjet.com, pending government approvals, is also expected to target routes into Senegal, Cameroon, Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Benin. Abidjan in Cote d’Ivoire is now the second largest route from Accra and Monrovia in Liberia is the third largest route.

The other potential Fastjet.com routes currently have little or no service. The carrier is likely to steer clear of countries such as Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali because the security levels in those countries are still considered dangerous by many Western governments."

This news follows on from an announcement 2 weeks ago by fellow Ghanaian start up, Starbow Airlines, that it intended to lease another BAe146 prior to commencement of regional services.

► ETHIOPIA: Ethiopian postpones B787 service 'til August.

It seems the delayed entry into service of Ethiopian Airlines' (ET) Boeing 787 Dreamliner will have a knock on effect, as its first route Addis Ababa - Johannesburg, has been postponed 'til 1st August 2012.

Ethiopian 787
Ethiopian's first Dreamliner in Seattle 2011.
  • Addis Ababa – Dubai ET600/601 Delayed from 15JUN12 to 01AUG12 (777-200LR operating from 15JUN12 to 15JUL12, 767-300ER from 16JUL12 to 31JUL12)
  • Addis Ababa – Johannesburg Delayed from 15JUN12 to 01AUG12 (767-300ER operating from 15JUN12 to 31JUL12)
                Planned Boeing 787 service on following routes remains unchanged:
  • Addis Ababa – Harare 4 weekly (Day x246) eff 16SEP12
  • Addis Ababa – Lusaka 3 weekly (Day 246) eff 18SEP12
Read More Here [Airline Route] 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

► RWANDA: Bombardier's Q400 roadshow ends in Kigali.

BombardierCanadian aircraft manufacturer Bombardier Aerospace has just concluded its tour in Africa showcasing its successful Q400 turboprop aircraft, having started in West Africa, before coming to East and Southern Africa, in hopes of attracting potential customers. 

► EGYPT & LIBYA: More derelict WW2 aircraft discovered in The Sahara.

Egyptian flag
Whilst going through the international press this last week, we at The Tribune came across a piece in the UK's Daily Mail that we found rather interesting. 

The derelict Kittyhawk in the Sahara
The derelict Kittyhawk in the Sahara (Daily Mail)
During a prospecting mission for oil in the Western Desert (part of the Sahara) Egypt, a oil worker recently came across a derelict Royal Air Force Kittyhawk P-40, that, given its age and location, was in reasonably good condition.

The aircraft itself, flown at the time by Flight Sergeant Dennis Copping,  went down in June 1942, during the North African Campaign fought between the legendary "Desert Fox" German General Erwin Rommel and British Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery.

It seems Copping was attempting to make his way home, only to lose his bearings, and ultimately, crash land in what is literally, the middle of nowhere. From what has been seen lying around the crash site, he then took what he could salvage from the damaged fighter, and wandered off into the desert, never to be seen again. 

The cockpit of the plane (Daily Mail)
Since the crash site is about 200 miles from the nearest town and no human remains have been found at the site, its believed that the pilot’s decomposed body may lay anywhere within a 20 mile radius of the aircraft (Copping is not known to have any close living relatives).

But this isn't the first time the Sahara has been a repository for abandoned aircraft.

In February 1959, a British Petroleum oil exploration team discovered the nearly intact "Lady Be Good", a USAF American B-24D Liberator, 448 miles southeast of Soluch, again in the untravelled Western Desert. 

Investigation at the crash site confirmed that the crew had bailed out after exhausting their fuel.after returning from an April 4, 1943 bombing raid on Naples, Italy as part of the 514th Bomb Squadron, 376th Bomb Group. At the time, the plane was assumed to have crashed into the Mediterranean Sea and its nine crew members were classified as Missing in Action.

Lady Be Good, Libya
The USAF Bomber "Lady Be Good" found in 1959, Libya
The Lady Be Good apparently overflew its base and did not see flares fired to attract its attention and continued into the interior of North Africa for two more hours. At 2 a.m., the crew parachuted to the ground and the Lady Be Good continued on for 26 km (16 miles) more with no one aboard and crash-landed in the Calanshio Sand Sea of the Libyan Desert. A search and rescue mission from Soluch Air Base to find the missing bomber was unsuccessful and no trace of the crew or aircraft was found.

After the crew abandoned the aircraft in mid air, it continued flying southward. The mostly intact wreckage and evidence showing one engine was still operating at the time of impact suggests the aircraft gradually lost altitude in a very shallow descent, reached the flat, open desert floor and landed on its belly.
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Upon rediscovery of the wreckage in 1959, despite the plane being broken into two pieces, it was immaculately preserved, with functioning machine guns, a working radio, and some supplies of food and water. A thermos of tea was found to be drinkable. No human remains were found on board the aircraft, nor were parachutes found. Evidence aboard the plane indicated that the men had bailed out. Records in the log of navigator Lieutenant Hays, who was on his very first combat mission, ended at Naples. 

No human remains were found at the crash site, but in February 1960, the United States Army conducted a formal search for the remains of the airmen, and five were found. Finding evidence that three other crew members had continued walking northward to seek help, the exploration concluded their bodies were likely buried beneath sand dunes.

► ETHIOPIA: See Ethiopian's B767 - now with Winglets!

As reported by Ethiopian Airlines (ET) in March, its Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) Unit scored another first in Africa, by successfully fitting winglets to one of Ethiopian's Boeing 767-300s - ET-ALJ - which, it says will "reduce fuel burn by up to 5% and carbon dioxide emissions by up to 5,000 tons per year. The blended winglets will improve the 767-300ER performance from Addis by increasing the takeoff weight to 2.0 - 2.5 tons and the payload range by 204 nautical miles"

Ethiopian 767 with Winglets
Ethiopian's 767 ET-ALJ at Accra, Ghana (PRM)
"Ato Tewolde Gebremariam, CEO Ethiopian Airlines said, "I would like to congratulate our MRO team for the outstanding performance and for the job well done. From an economics point of view, the winglets will allow the airline to make substantial cost saving, through lower fuel consumption, which is highly critical at a time when the industry as a whole is feeling the brunt of persistent high fuel prices. This fitting will also reduce engine maintenance cost. The winglets will enhance our take-off performance specifically from our high altitude hub and increase our payload including the flight range.""
Read More Here [Ethiopian Airlines]

■ NIGERIA: Phase II of airport renovations to begin in June; Abuja to get new International Terminal.

FAAN logo
Nigerian's Aviation Minister Stella Oduah has announced plans by the Nigerian Government to embark on the second phase of a project to renovate and remodel various airports in Nigeria, in order to "upgrade the quality of services being rendered at airports across the country."

The Minister also said that airports involved in the first phase - amongst them Murtala Muhammed International Airport (Lagos); Nnamdi Azikiwe Intenational Airport (Abuja); Owerri Airport; Yola Airport and Benin Airport - were to be reinaugurated by the end of May, with Phase 2 to begin on 1st June 2012.

Nigerian airport
Asaba Airport, Nigeria (Ken Iwelumo)
Oduah also announced that plans had been concluded to build a new international terminal at Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, Abuja this year, with the existing international terminal being turned into a domestic terminal, while the old domestic terminal would now be General Aviation (GAT) and Hajj terminal.

"According to her, the projects are being strictly monitored to ensure that contractors do not deliver substandard jobs.
She said, “We have our quality control group working with the contractors at all times; we want to make sure we don’t play with users’ safety, which is why we are doing total restructuring and remodelling."

The call for enforced transparency follows the attempted arrest on Monday of the Managing Director of the Lagos-based Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), George Uriesi, on suspected allegations of graft by the Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. Uriesi evaded arrest as he was said to "have left for Abuja on an official duty."

■ SOUTH AFRICA: VelvetSky in liquidation; SAA likely to get USD$750m government cash injection.

South African Airways logoSouth African Airways (SA) says it is optimistic that its request for ZAR6billion (USD$733million) from the South African Government will be granted, thereby allowing it to proceed with its planned fleet renewal as reported previously by The African Aviation Tribune.

Monday, May 14, 2012

■ BOTSWANA: Open Skies deal signed; will Air Botswana survive more competition?

Air Botswana
The Botswana Government has recently signed two Bilateral Air Services Agreements (BASA) with Mauritius in Gaborone agreements bringing to nine the number of BASAs signed - the other eight being with Belgium, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

► ZAMBIA: Zambezi Airlines to resume flights next month.

Zambezi Airlines logoFollowing numerous court cases and the repossession of its aircraft by lessor GECAS, Lusaka-based, Zambian airline Zambezi Airlines (ZJ), is scheduled to restart services from next month.

► SOUTH AFRICA: SAA boosts Mumbai service from June.

South African Airways logoFollowing Jet Airways' suspension of Mumbai - Johannesburg with effect from 12 June 2012, so South African Airways (SA) has moved to fill the gap by tentatively (i.e. subject to government approval) increasing its frequencies from Johannesburg to Mumbai, from 4x weekly to 5x weekly, using an Airbus A330-200.

● ETHIOPIA: See the renderings for Ethiopian's new HQ and hotel.

Ethiopian Airlines

With almost 50 aircraft in its fleet and another 43 state-of-the-art jets on order, a much coveted Star Alliance membership, and a profit for 2011 of USD$25million making it one of the few profitable African airlines, Ethiopian Airlines has much to be proud of.


Based out of Addis Ababa's Bole International Airport, Ethiopian Airlines last year put forth its future plans in a paper entitled "Project 2025" which set out its goals and objectives to make Ethiopian "the most competitive and leading aviation group in Africa by providing safe, market driven and customer focused passenger and Cargo Transport, Aviation Training, Flight Catering, Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO), Ground Services, Domestic and regional services by 2025."

Having surpassed its original goals set out in 2005 in its "Vision 2010", the airline states that its overall target for Vision 2025 is to implement a new restructuring program that will transform Ethiopian Airlines into an aviation investment group.

Vision 2025 objectives & goals summarized:
  • Construction of Maintenance Hangar
  • Expansion & upgrading of Ethiopian Aviation Academy
  • Construction of Simulator building for different fleet type
  • Construction of 5 star hotel
  • Expansion of Cargo Terminal
  • Construction of new Catering facility
  • Construction of parking building
  • Construction of new Headquarters
Herein we will discuss the two administrative/hospitality projects slated under Vision 2025 - The 5 Star Hotel & The head quarters.


In 2009, Ethiopian issued a tender to indigenous Ethiopian companies for the design and supervision of contract for it's new headquarters at Bole Airport. However, the airline was not satisfied with the submissions and only second to fifth place of the design bid were announced on Monday, April 11, 2010, with no actual winner being declared.

“Our company is the only one that received a very good result from the airline on the evaluation form,” Samuel Alebel, Technical Assistant of Ultimate Plan Plc, told Fortune.

The bidders were told by the airline to wait until a formal decision was made as to the next step to be taken, according to Samuel.

“We are not satisfied with the designs,” Girma Wake, CEO of Ethiopian, told Fortune, “because most of them do not meet the requirements set by the airline. Most likely, we will go for an international bid. However, it is still under process.”   

In theory, the "winner" was the second placed bid Ultimate Plan Plc, then Sileshi Consult Plc, Mulugeta Asfaw Consult, and finally Gereta Consult in fifth place, respectively. Berhanu Mussa Architecture & Engineering had also entered the bid but did not make the top five.

UltimatePlan Ethiopian Airlines Headquarters Submission
UltimatePlan PLC's 2nd place bid. (UltimatePlan)

A second round tender was announced in September 2011. In February 2012 Ethiopian Airlines finally made its decision settling instead for a design by Ethiopian architectural firm BET Architects Plc, in collaboration with Soehene Partners Architects, an Austrian company. 


This proposal is also intended in creating a high class international standard building and a structure that would address the requirement of its growth, active operation and accomplish its Vision-2025. The administrative blocks are in a floating form that resembles mountains and canyons. Similar to the landscape that flows into the building the lobby is also floating and rising. There are gardens in between the blocks which are made up of landscapes with trees and art sculptures. The sun shade of grand lobby around which the office blocks are situated is symbolized with timber trees.

Location: Bole Airport, Addis Ababa
Net Area:
15.000 sqm
Expansion Area: 4.500 sqm
Planned Number of Employees: 1450
Estimated Completion: 2014
Estimated Cost: USD$20million

Ethiopian Airlines
Ethiopian Airlines
Ethiopian Airlines
Ethiopian Airlines
Ethiopian Airlines
Ethiopian Airlines
The winning bid (SoehnePartner Austria)

The deal was signed by Yissehak Zewoldi, Vice President of Alliances & Corporate Strategic Planning with Ethiopian and Tesfamariam Teshome, Manager, Senior Partner, and Architect at BET Architects plcon May 17 February 2012.

The 4 or 5 Star Hotel

Anyone who has ever had the "pleasure" of missing their Ethiopian connecting in Addis Ababa will know of the Riviera International Hotel in down town Addis - the hotel used by Ethiopian Airlines for passengers in transit. While not necessarily dreadful, in light of Ethiopian's membership of Star Alliance, it could do with a far smarter hotel - something that is presently in the pipeline under the guise of a  proposed joint venture between Ethiopian (to have 53% shareholding) and China's Hainan Air (18.8%) and the China Africa Development Fund (CADF) (28.2%) with a value of USD$60million. 

Addis Ababa Hotel
The plot of land to be used near Bole Airport (Addis Fortune)
"It had announced a bid in January 2009 to hire consulting firms to design and supervise the construction of the hotel, where domestic companies such as National Consult Plc, Ultimate Plan Plc, and ETG Designers & Consultants Plc, all in partnership with their international associates, had made their offers. Nonetheless, the management had cancelled this in November 2009, claiming to have an interest in searching for other alternatives."
 Read More Here [Addis Fortune Ethiopia]

Addis Ababa Hotel
The rendering for the hotel (Addis Fortune)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

► NIGERIA: Air Nigeria gets its two A330s; to get four 787s?

Air Nigeria's A330-300 leaves for Lagos (Nigeria Aviation News)

In other Air Nigeria related news, following in the footsteps of local competitor Arik Air, who in 2007 placed an order for 7 Boeing 787s, Air Nigeria has placed an order for 4 of the Dreamliners, to be used between Lagos-London, and ultimately, Lagos-Baltimore and Lagos-Dubai-Beijing, though this has yet to be confirmed by Boeing.

Nigerian press reports state that the deal, worth nearly USD$900million, is to be financed by the USEXIM bank.
"THISDAY checks revealed that each of the aircraft will cost the airline $221,775,000, totalling $887,100,000 which will be financed by the USEXIM Bank.
According to the chairman of Air Nigeria, Mr. Jimoh Ibrahim, who confirmed the aircraft orders, as initial deposit, the airline will be required to sign and pay four per cent of the total cost of the aircraft amounting to $35,484,000 by May 22 in London. On delivery, he said the aircraft will fly the Lagos-London, Lagos-Baltimore and Lagos-Dubai-Beijing routes, while one plane will be kept in reserve.
If everything goes according to plan, Air Nigeria will be the first West African airline to have the Dreamliner aircraft in its fleet. Ethiopian Airways has already placed orders for the Dreamliner aircraft, but delivery date is set for 2016."
Read More Here [ThisDay Nigeria] 

► UGANDA: Turkish Airlines flight to Johannesburg diverts to Entebbe.

Turkish AirlinesA Turkish Airlines Airbus A330 TC-JNM recently enroute from Istanbul to Johannesburg, South Africa was forced to divert to Entebbe, Uganda following engine problems.

The aircraft landed safely, though passengers were forced to wait for a replacement aircraft to be dispatched from Turkey.

THY Turkish Airlines
THY Turkish Airlines A330 TC-JNM (Alfonso Rodenas Pena)
"A Turkish Airlines Airbus A330-300, registration TC-JNM performing flight TK-40 (dep May 10th) from Istanbul (Turkey) to Johannesburg (South Africa) with 250 passengers, was enroute near Entebbe (Uganda) when the crew needed to shut an engine (CF6) down. The aircraft diverted to Entebbe for a safe landing."
Read More Here [The Aviation Herald]

Saturday, May 12, 2012

► TANZANIA: Air Tanzania's B737-500 finally arrives (Pic included).

Air TanzaniaTwo days late, but better late than never or so the saying goes. Tonight Saturday, Air Tanzania finally received its Boeing 737-500 leased from AeroVista of Dubai.

Friday, May 11, 2012

► SOUTH AFRICA: SAA pilot incapacitated during flight from Hong Kong to Johannesburg.

South African Airways logoA South African Airways pilot was incapacitated during a scheduled flight from Hong Kong's Chek Lap Kok Airport to Johannesburg on 30 April.

► UNITED KINGDOM: British Airways to replace BMI codes on 3 Moroccan routes.

British Airways
British Airways (BA) is to replace 3 BMI coded flights (BD) to Morocco with effect from 23 May 2012.

London Heathrow – Agadir 
  • BD44x > BA816x
London Heathrow – Casablanca
  • BD44x > BA816x
London Heathrow – Marrakech 
  • BD44x > BA816x
Read More Here [Airline Route]

British Airway's parent company International Airlines Group (IAG) bought British Midland International from Lufthansa in April.

► TANZANIA: Air Tanzania's mysterious B737 fails to pitch up - again.

Air TanzaniaFollowing on from our initial report, Air Tanzania were indeed lined up at Dar es Salaam on Thursday, and when that failed to happen, again today to receive their Boeing 737-500 wet leased from Aerovista of Dubai.