Friday, June 22, 2012

► SOUTH AFRICA: Emirates again postpones A380's return to Johannesburg over wing crack concerns.

[UPDATE 30 AUGUST 2012] Emirates (EK), the Dubai based megacarrier, reports that repairs to the wings of its fleet of Airbus A380s is likely to cost at least USD$100million and will have far reaching consequences on its operations in the months to come.

Amongst the routes affected include Dubai - Johannesburg, South Africa, originally scheduled to have its A380 service restarted from 1 October onwards, but due to the aforementioned problems, will now only receive them from 1 December 2012.

Emirates A380
Emirates Airbus A380 (Emirates)
Emirates: Dubai, UAE - Johannesburg, South Africa

  • EK761 DXB0440 – 1050JNB 77W D
  • EK763 DXB1015 – 1625JNB 77W D
  • EK765 DXB1440 – 2050JNB 77W D

  • EK762 JNB1400 – 0010+1DXB 77W D
  • EK764 JNB1915 – 0515+1DXB 77W D
  • EK766 JNB2220 – 0820+1DXB 77W D
Read More Here [Airline Route]

The cracks issue, discovered earlier this year, resulted from the use of a material known as '7449' that was used in A380 wing rib feet construction. The European Aviation Safety Agency issued an airworthiness directive, extended to all in-service A380s, ordering mandatory inspections of the wing ribs.

►[UPDATE 30 AUGUST 2012] See this post: ► SOUTH AFRICA: Emirates cancels intended A380 service return to Johannesburg.

► NIGERIA: FirstNation flights suspended 'til July; Air Nigeria grounded by NCAA again.

first nation logoThe local civil aviation scene in Nigeria continues to undergo a severe shake up as a consequence of the  Dana Air Flight 9J-997 tragedy.

► ZIMBABWE: Air Zimbabwe given 90 day IATA reprieve as CAAZ hypocrisy stifles newcomers.

Air ZimbabweFollowing our report this week on Air Zimbabwe's pending suspension from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) for failing to comply with the Association's stringent Operational Safety Audits (IOSA), so IATA has issued a press statement to the effect that Air Zimbabwe has 90 days to comply with the IOSA criteria or risk losing its membership of the Association.

From an outside perspective, it seems like a fairly straight-forward affair - spruce up the MA60s and ageing Boeing 767s & 737s and invite IATA in. Yadayadayada, certificate issued, and problem solved.

Unfortunately, it doesn't work like that, especially not with quasi-bankrupt Zimbabwean parastatals who may, or may not be operating a fleet of rented Airbus A320s in the hopes of eluding creditors.

Harare Airport, Zimbabwe
A common sight at Harare Airport - nothing. (Bill Whaley)

According to the Zimbabwean Government, yes there is.

What hypocrisy!

And straight, too, from the horse's mouth. 

Air Zimbabwe lacks a current IATA IOSA Audit certificate, yet is allowed to operate; two local indigenous airline's capable of doing the job but are held back because of Government protectionism for an airline that practically does not exist, and that no one seems interesting in flying on, or investing in.

A tragedy indeed.

► NAMIBIA: Air Namibia to get A330s; aims to become profitable by 2016.

Air NamibiaNamibian national carrier Air Namibia (SW) is "to soon get rid of" its ageing Airbus A340s and replace them with newer Airbus A330s in an effort to modernize and thus bring the quality and standards of the airline up to a globally competitive level - along the lines of Dubai-based mega-carrier, Emirates.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

► GUINEA: Air Guinée to be resurrected?

Air Guinée

Air Guinée Route Network
Air Guinée's Route Network pre 2002 (Winne)

Reports suggest that Chinese aircraft manufacturers China Aviation Industry Corporation (AVIC) are discussing a possible joint venture with the Guineans, following the collapse of another joint venture in 2009  - Air Guinée International - which was to be 85% owned by Hong Kong-based China International Fund (of Sonangol Angola fame). However, due to the unstable political climate in Conakry following the Coup d'etat of 2008, the deal was never fully implemented.

Air Guinée International Airbus
Air Guinée International A320 (Romain Salerno)

Since then, Guinea has been left with no national carrier, relying instead on other regional carriers as well as Air France for air routes into and out of the country.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

► SUDAN: Tarco Air leases Boeing 737 from Gambia's Aeolus Air.

Tarco Air logoSudanese domestic-carrier Tarco Air (TRQ) has signed a lease with Gambian ACMI Aeolus Air for a Boeing 737 as the airline seeks to increase its share of the booming Sudanese aviation pie, by starting regional and international operations.

► MOZAMBIQUE: Qatar Airways to fly to Maputo from October.

Qatar Airways
In another positive development for Mozambique's aviation industry following last week's announcement by TAP Air Portugal (TP) that it would increase frequencies between Lisbon and Maputo, Qatar Airways (QR) is to start flights between Doha, Qatar and Maputo, Mozambique effective 31 October 2012.

The flights will operate as Doha - Johannesburg - Maputo and will be flown 3x weekly with a Boeing 777-300ER.

Qatar Airways B777 at Johannesburg
Qatar Airways B777 at Johannesburg (Daniel Fretwell)
Qatar Airways: Doha, Qatar - Johannesburg, South Africa - Maputo, Mozambique
-Effective 31 October 2012
  • QR584 DOH0105 – 0825JNB0935 – 1040MPM 77W 357
  • QR585 MPM1210 – 1315JNB1425 – 2325DOH 77W 357

Recently, Qatar Airways started an aggressive expansion into Africa, adding Kilimanjaro, Zanzibar and Mombasa to its network, along with increasing its flights to Cairo and Algiers. Rumours are also afoot for potential Harare, Zimbabwe and Kinshasa, DRC services in 2013.

► ZIMBABWE: Air Zimbabwe suspended from IATA - again.

Air ZimbabweThe International Air Transport Association, IATA, has suspended ailing Zimbabwean airline Air Zimbabwe from its registry following Air Zimbabwe's failure to renew its registration with IATA's Operational Safety Audit (IOSA), a fundamental requirement of IATA membership.

Part of the letter from Quality and IOSA Project Coordinator, Catalin Cotrut, IATA's director for Global to Air Zimbabwe's Edmund Makona, Air Zimbabwe's Lead Auditor, read:

"Please be advised that tomorrow, June 14, 2012, Air Zimbabwe will be removed from the IOSA registry as the operator failed to renew its registration before the expiry date."

So what exactly is this IOSA, and what does it entail?

According to IATA's website
Air Zimbabwe 737
Air Zimbabwe in better days (Savvas Garozis)
"IOSA provides a standardised audit programme for cost-effectiveness and safety based on internationally-recognised standards and a structured system for the sharing of audits. IOSA audits are conducted by a select group of experienced Audit Organisations that have each undergone a rigorous and consistent IATA accreditation process. IATA Member Airlines are committed to being audited to IOSA standards."

The consequences of the suspension however, are unclear, seeing as Air Zimbabwe's operational mandate is at present, also unclear. Rumours and unconfirmed press reports claim the airline is still flying domestic Zimbabwean routes, albeit using leased aircraft, though these reports are still to be corroborated. If that is the case, then an IATA suspension may not necessarily hurt the airline internationally, though the damage to its already shoddy image, will have been done.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

► NIGERIA: Air Nigeria gets a nasty visit from Mr Tax Man.

Air NigeriaIn the ongoing saga that is Air Nigeria (VK) - having first been grounded by a strike, then a public slinging match with an ex manager over air safety and financial indebtedness, then by an investigation into its airworthiness - has now had its Managing Director, Kinfe Kahssay, arrested over failure by the airline to remit USD$31.4million (NgN4,87billion) in taxes to the Federal Internal Revenue Services (FIRS), Nigeria's tax man.

An FIRS statement read:
Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) Nigeria"The arrest is aimed at recovering arrears of taxes accruing to government from Withholding Tax (WHT) and Value Added Tax (VAT). The enforcement is part of a bigger move to recover the N170. I Billion (N170'132'089'411.46) outstanding taxes owed to government by public and private organisations as well as ensure that all taxpayers are captured in the tax net."

Armed police raided Air Nigeria's offices on Monday morning and took Kahssay away for interrogation, where, it is alleged he "agreed that Air Nigeria had tax liabilities but pleaded for more time to clear the bills."

However, Air Nigeria in a press release on its website moved to distance itself from the debacle claiming that the taxes in question, in actuality, dated back to the day's of Richard Branson's Virgin Nigeria Airlines and were still to be settled with the Nigerian Government and questioned as to why the FIRS had "spent the past 8 years doing nothing".
"The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) stormed Air Nigeria office on Monday, 18 June 2012, with mobile policemen armed with guns to demand for past taxes allegedly owed during the period when Mr. Richard Branson of Virgin Atlantic was running Virgin Nigeria, now Air Nigeria. These taxes have been in dispute and needed to be reconciled and agreed upon."
The airline then goes on to allege that the last 2 incidents (see the opening paragraph) have been part of a greater conspiracy to see the airline fail.
"We suspect that one other line of action will be coming in the coming week to further attempt to damage us in the public eye; but we assure the instigator of such uncivilized approach that Air Nigeria will not compromise its corporate values and development strategy. "
Read More Here [Air Nigeria Press Release] 

So, if Air Nigeria's prophecies are true, what will happen next? Stay tuned for another thrilling episode...

► SOUTH AFRICA: SAA pushes further into Africa with Abidjan & Brazzaville.

SAA logoSouth African Airways (SA) will, from 17 August 2012, resume its suspended Johannesburg, South Africa - Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire service that it last plied 3 years ago. The flight will be operated by an Airbus A330-200 twice a week.

Monday, June 18, 2012

► TANZANIA: Precision Air adds Zanzibar to Dar - Joburg route.

Precision Air Tanzanian airline Precision Air (PW) will, with effect from 1 July 2012, switch its Dar es Salaam - Johannesburg, South Africa flights to daytime flights. Presently, the Boeing 737-300 operated route departs Dar es Salaam in the late afternoon on the outbound leg,, whilst the return leg operates in the late evening.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

► ANGOLA: TAAG boosts Dubai; looks to expand greatly in coming years.

TAAG logo
Angola's flag carrier TAAG Angolan Airlines (DT) has announced, that effective 10 September 2012, it will add a third weekly Wednesday frequency to Dubai from Luanda and it is also looking to further increase its international presence by opening new international routes to Frankfurt, Germany, Paris, France and an as yet undisclosed destinations in the US.

With Angola's growing regional importance, both as a trade route and as an economic hub - with its vast oil wealth to boot - so the need to establish a direct air link between the US and Angola has grown ever more crucial. At this time, the only airlink between the two countries is that of SonAir Angola operates the 3x weekly "Houston Express" from Luanda to Houston, USA using a leased Atlas Air Boeing 747-400  which caters more for the oil industry's needs than anything.

Recently, Angola signed bilateral agreements with Argentina amongst which saw the Angolan airline opening a ticket office in Buenos Aires, that some see as being the first step in the opening of a future Luanda - Buenos Aires route.

TAAG Angolan Airlines: Luanda - Dubai
-Effective 10 September 2012
  • DT550 LAD2100 – 0800+1DXB 772 135
  • DT551 DXB1020 – 1520LAD 772 246
From 28 October 2012, Day 1/2 service operates with Boeing 777-300ER instead of -200ER.
Read More Here [Airline Route]

TAAG Angolan Airlines Africa Network
TAAG Angolan Airlines Africa Network
Meanwhile, ATWOnline reports that chairman and CEO of TAAG, Pimentel Araujo, disclosed that it plans to phase out its last three 737-200s and is considering acquiring either additional 737-700s, of which five are already in service, “or a lighter aircraft for some domestic routes,” he said. In January 2011, the airline retired its fleet of Boeing 747-300s to make way for the first of their Boeing 777-300ERs, of which another three are due for delivery in 2016.

TAAG, in keeping up with international trends, also launched its own Frequent Flyer Programme called the "Umbi Umbi Club" which it will use to build a customer loyalty base.

► MOZAMBIQUE: TAP Air Portugal boosts Maputo flights; considers Nacala.

TAP Air PortugalWith Portuguese companies gaining various large contracts and growing numbers of young Portuguese professionals moving to ex-colony Mozambique in hopes of escaping the Euro-zone Crisis, so Portuguese carrier TAP Air Portugal (TP) is set to boost direct flights between Lisbon and Maputo from 3x weekly, to 4x weekly, with the addition of a Monday flight effective 2 July 2012. The route is serviced by an Airbus A340-300.

TAP AIr Portugal A340 Mozambique
TAP Air Portugal in Maputo (AChaves)

So strong has performance on the route been, that TAP in January 2011 axed its Lisbon - Maputo - Johannesburg, South Africa  flight in order to better focus on the Mozambique market.

TAP Air Portugal: Lisbon - Maputo
-Effective 2 July 2012
  • TP281 LIS0950 - 2120MPM  343 1247
  • TP282 MPM2305 – 0915+1LIS 343 1247
Also being considered are flights from Lisbon to the northern Mozambican port of Nacala, in Nampula Province, the site of enormous coal and phosphate deposits (in addition to the various infrastructural improvements they will need), currently being exploited by a fellow Lusophone country Brazil's, Vale S.A. 

"The current average occupancy of flights to Maputo is estimated at 80 percent and Couto said that her company is taking into consideration the possibility of flying to Nacala in the northern province of Nampula in case the number of clients is significant and if the airport rehabilitation allows it to host planes operated by TAP."

Nacala Airport, Mozambique
A Rendering of Nacala Airport (ADM)
Presently, Nacala Airport is being upgraded by Brazilian firm Odebrecht International and entails the construction of passenger and cargo terminals, a control tower, maintenance building, firefighting building, runway, taxi ways, a parking lot and all necessary equipment and systems. The project will involve 23 months of construction work, with delivery scheduled for March 2013. The runway will be 3,400 metres (11,200 ft) long, able to handle a Boeing 757 or 767 whilst the airport itself will be able to handle 500,000 to 600,000 passengers a year.

► ZIMBABWE: Air Zimbabwe to get second A320?

Air ZimbabweUnconfirmed reports from Zimbabwe claim that troubled Zimbabwean flag carrier, Air Zimbabwe (UM), will "soon" lease a second Airbus A320 from China Sonangol International, in an attempt to revive the ailing airline's flagging fortunes. 

Air Zimbabwe received its first Airbus A320 (F-WTBL) on 16 January 2012, leased from SouthJet Two Limited, though it is uncertain as to what role the aircraft has actually played in servicing the airline's routes.

Air Zimbabwe A320 Airbus
Airbus A320 "F-WTBL" in Harare.

"Radio VOP was briefed this week that some representatives of the airline from the quality assurance department and some engineers on Saturday flew to France to carry out an aircraft acceptance inspection and finalise the paperwork processes before the delivery of the aircraft expected before next Tuesday."

Presently Air Zimbabwe is confined to flying domestic routes exclusively as the threat of repossession by unpaid creditors in the UK and South Africa is still very real. In April 2012, Robert Mugabe - the Zimbabwean President - was forced to return home from Malaysia aboard the leased Airbus, as opposed to Air Zimbabwe's Boeing 767s, as the latter was neither financially nor technically feasible.

It is therefore likely, that as part of its rejuvenation programme, Air Zimbabwe has chosen to use leased aircraft as opposed to buying them, as this theoretically will still allow Air Zimbabwe to operate foreign routes, albeit without the threat of repossession looming over their heads.

Air Zimbabwe A320 Airbus "F-WTBL"
Airbus A320 "F-WTBL" in Harare.
It should be noted however, that in the past, Air Zimbabwe has laid some wild claims to aircraft acquisition, most notably:
Both of which have turned out to be unfounded Big Talk.  

In a spin off effect, Zimbabwe's Civil Aviation Authority (CAAZ) has lamented the lost Passenger Tax revenues it has suffered as a consequence of Air Zimbabwe's demise.
Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe Board Chairperson, Advocate Jacob Mudenda said although the exact figures on the actual amount lost have not been put together the Ministry of Transport, Communication and Infrastructural Development is looking into the issue and restructured Air Zimbabwe in an effort to bring efficiency that would see in improvement in revenue inflows for organisations that have been affected.
Read More Here [ZBC News]

Friday, June 15, 2012

► KENYA: FastJet shows off livery (Pics); Fly540 brand to go.

FastjetFollowing on from this week's acquisition of Lonrho Aviation (t/a Fly540), FastJet Ghana's parent company Rubicon Investments, of which Stelios Haji-Ioannou of EasyJet fame is a 5% shareholder, has outlined its plans and future prospects for the transformation of and integration of Fly540 into a Pan-African LCC giant.

A Low Cost Carrier headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, Fly540 has franchises in Angola, Ghana, Tanzania and Ghana, and operates ATR 72s, CRJ-100s, DHC 8-100s and McDonnell Douglas DC 9s. Collectively, its route network includes various cities in Kenya, Tanzania, Angola, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Burundi, Liberia, Nigeria, South Sudan and Uganda.

FastJet Airbus airplane
A FastJet Airbus A319 rendering

Ultimately, FastJet aims to carry more than 12 million passengers a year, by focussing on Africa's burgeoning middle class - a phenomenon that is fast becoming a reality in Angola, Kenya and Nigeria, where substantial economic growth in recent years has meant more money in the pocket for the ordinary man on the street.
""If you take the four countries, they have a total population of 100 million people. If you estimate that all our customers come from just those countries alone, you could see three million of them becoming customers with us, flying a couple of times a year. That would generate something like 12.8 million passengers [annually]." "

At the helm of FastJet will be many of Haji-Ioannou's colleagues from his days at EasyJet: Richard Boden, a former Contracts Manager at EasyJet, Ed Winter, FastJet's new CEO and formerly easyJet's Chief Operating Officer, whilst Haji-Ioannou himself, will be a consultant.

► SOUTH AFRICA: British Airways switches Cape Town to night flight from Winter 2012.

British Airways
British Airways (BA) will, from Winter 2012 (28 October 2012), switch its seasonal flight BA042 from Cape Town, South Africa to London Heathrow to a night time departure.

The flight will be operated by a Boeing 747-400.

British Airways' B747-400 at Cape Town
British Airways' B747-400 at Cape Town (Sara Joachim)

British Airways: London, Heathrow - Cape Town, South Africa
- Effective 28 October 2012
  • BA043 LHR1735 – 0700+1CPT 744 D
  • BA059 LHR1930 – 0855+1CPT 744 D
  • BA058 CPT2050 – 0625+1LHR 744 D 
  • BA042 CPT2220 – 0800+1LHR 744 D
Read More Here [Airline Route]

Citing route viability problems, South African Airways last week announced it would drop its Cape Town - Heathrow service effective August 2012.

► ZAMBIA: Zambezi Airlines recommences flights as of 17 June.

Zambezi Airlines logoAs of Sunday 17 June 2012, Zambian carrier Zambezi Airlines (ZJ) is set to return to the skies after a 7 month hiatus from service, following various safety issues raised by Zambia's Civil Aviation Authority, that have since been settled.

► CONGO (KINSHASA): flyCongo to start Johannesburg from late June.

flyCongoCongolese carrier flyCongo (EO), previously known as Hewa Bora Airways, has announced 2x weekly Boeing 767-200ER flights from Kinshasa to Johannesburg, South Africa via Lubumbashi, DRC, with effect from 27 June 2012. 

The new route will be flyCongo's first regional route as it currently only serves Congolese cities. 

flyCongo's 767
flyCongo's Boeing 767-200ER

flyCongo: Kinshasa - Lubumbashi - Johannesburg
From 27 June 2012
  • EO031 FIH0900 – 1215FBM1315 – 1530JNB 762 3
  • EO061 FIH0900 – 1215FBM1315 – 1530JNB 762 6
  • EO042 JNB1020 – 1235FBM1345 – 1500FIH 762 4
  • EO072 JNB1020 – 1235FBM1345 – 1500FIH 762 7
Read More Here [AirlineRoute]

Presently, the Kinshasa - Johannesburg route is serviced by Korongo Airlines and South African Airways.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

► EGYPT: 4 drunks onboard Oman Air arrested on arrival in Cairo.

Oman Air
Four drunken male passengers have been arrested in Egypt after their Oman Air flight WY405 from Muscat, Oman touched down at Cairo International Airport yesterday.

Oman Air 737 A4O-BB Cairo Airport Arrests
Oman Air 737 "A4O-BB" (Paul Moiser)

The Aviation Herald states that the four men were intoxicated during the flight and causing an inconvenience to other passengers. 

Shortly after the Boeing 737-800 (A4O-BB) landed, the 4 men apologized to the captain for their behaviour, who accepted their apology. 

They were then over handed over to Egyptian Police and taken into custody.

■ SOUTH AFRICA: Business booming at Durban's King Shaka Airport.

International Airport, Durban
After Kwazulu-Natal's aviation sector suffered years of stunted growth due to the old Durban International Airport's infrastructural limitations, it seems its hefty investment is finally paying off: the recent introduction of a Boeing 777-300ER by Emirates on its Dubai - Durban route and South African Express set to make it its hub for expanding into Africa, business is certainly booming at Durban's new King Shaka International Airport (KSIA).

KSIA is now moving to lure bigger carriers from further abroad, and in particular, is looking at a future London service using British Airways. Why British Airways and not South African Airways - the logical choice after all? Well, after last week's dramatic axing of the age old Cape Town - London Heathrow service (which is now routed va Johannesburg) due to viability problems, it seems unlikely that SAA would venture into a future Heathrow - Durbs route. 

Said Mr. Ahmed Bassa, Dube TradePort’s aeronautical executive, at a business breakfast organised by the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry recently:
Emirates SkyCargo 747 Durban
Emirates SkyCargo 747 at Durban (GVD)
"“London is our biggest market, with approximately 100 000 passengers that travel between the UK and KZN. Besides a connecting flight via Joburg, an increasing number of these passengers currently fly on Emirates via Dubai to the UK.

"We are looking strongly at British Airways to start a route from King Shaka to either London’s Heathrow or Gatwick airports. Virgin Atlantic airlines won’t come into Durban because they are a small airline with just 24 planes that fly on the high-profile routes.” He said that after London, Dubai, with Emirates’ non-stop service, was the next most important market for Durban."

In the 80s, British Airways did serve Durban, albeit with a stopover in Harare, Zimbabwe.

Last year, Comair, British Airways' franchise holder in Southern Africa,  too applied to British Airways to see if Comair’s franchise to carry BA passengers in southern Africa could be extended to a proposed route between Durban and London. Nothing came of it, as BA considered Durban to simply be marginal, warranting only feeder-route status.

► MOROCCO: Royal Air Maroc, Delta Airlines drop code-share agreement.

Royal Air Maroc RAMWith effect from June 2012, American carrier Delta Airlines (DL) and Moroccan flag carrier Royal Air Maroc (AT) will cease their 12 year long code share agreement.

● IATA: Strong growth for Africa in 2011/2012 but lower profits; The winners & losers so far.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents some 240 airlines worldwide and comprising 84% of total air traffic, has released its annual statistics for the year 2011/2012, with Africa showing very strong growth in terms of actual passengers carried, as well as freight tonnage hauled, in stark contrast to crisis ridden Europe, which has struggled some what.

► KENYA: Kenya Airways announces vast changes to Summer Schedule.

Kenya Airways
Kenya Airways (KQ) has announced sweeping changes to its Summer Schedule, suspending several routes most notably Rome (Italy), and Muscat (Oman) due to low uptake, whilst announcing new destinations that are to be launched between July and October 2012 including Kilimanjaro (Tanzania), Eldoret (Kenya), Abuja (Nigeria) and Beirut (Lebanon).

Kenya Airways Network
Kenya Airways Route Map
The optimized schedule comes as the airline moves to increase frequencies on existing routes to meet changing and growing demand, while opening new routes in Africa and the Middle East. Kenya Airways Group Managing Director, Dr. Titus Naikuni said the decision to halt operations on the routes was also based on insufficient demand to sustain the routes.
"“Owing to the decreased passenger volumes on these routes, we have decided to re-align our capacity across the entire network to meet growing demand on other destinations including new ones,” said Dr Naikuni."

Kenya Airways' Summer 2012 Schedule

Kenya (Domestic) 

  • Kisumu City boosted with introduction of an extra frequency over the weekends bringing it to 4x daily. On specific weekdays the airline will maintain its 3x daily flights. An Embraer E190 will be deployed on the route especially in the mornings and evenings. 


  • All Lagos daytime flights to Accra are combined as KQ 534 operating Nairobi – Lagos – Accra – Nairobi. As a result, Kenya Airways will be flying into Accra 12 times a week and 9 times a week to Lagos.  
  • Additionally, the introduction of wide-body capacity into and out of Lagos and Accra is set to have significant impact on Kenya Airways’ passenger and cargo revenue streams as it will enable it to offer more capacity and minimum connecting time between Guangzhou, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Dubai, Mumbai and West Africa.  
  • Ndjamena increased to 3x direct flights a week.
  • Dakar will now connect through Ouagadougou which increases flights to OUA to 3 times a week. 
  • Bamako flights will operate via Cotonou 3 times a week; this is expected to ease out on the payload issues that the Bamako passengers have experienced in the past. 

Middle East & Asia

  • Mumbai, India is increased from daily to 10 flights a week with 3x weekly flights to Delhi. 
  • Jeddah, Saudi Arabia has an extra flight added, bringing the frequency to 3x weekly effective July 2012. 
  • New direct flight to Dubai which will operate 3x a week with late evening departures from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to capture the late connecting traffic arriving into Nairobi. This is in addition to the daily Dubai service that the airline operates. The airline will now operate 10 non-stop flights to Dubai.


  • Europe has a capacity increase despite the suspension of Rome flights.
  • Effective July 2012, flights to London Heathrow will increase to 10 flights per week on the 322 seater Boeing 777-200. This is to cater for increased traffic demand during the Olympics. 
  • Paris flights will increase to 6 weekly flights during the July – August peak period and the daily Amsterdam capacity will be upgraded to a Boeing 777-200. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

► UNITED KINGDOM: Stelios Haji-Ioannou acquires Fly540's parent company Lonrho Aviation; FastJet one step closer to reality.

FastjetEasyJet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou's Rubicon Diversified Investments today acquired Lonrho Aviation, the parent company of Nairobi-based LCC Fly540, for USD$87.5 million.

Stelios Haji Ioannou
Stelios Haji-Ioannou (easyGroup)
As part of the deal, Haji-Ioannou's easyGroup Holdings Limited will own 5% of the ordinary share capital of Rubicon with the option of acquiring a further 10% in addition to receiving royalties equivalent to 0.5% of revenue. Rubicon will also avail its substantial financial resources and experience with its successful Fly540 brand, to allow for the realization of "FastJet", the soon-to-be Ghanaian startup that will service West Africa.

Lonrho Aviation t/a Fly540 is a Nairobi-based LCC with franchises in Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana and Angola, who, as of 31 December 2011 had Total Assets of US$ 83.5 million and in the 15 months to December 2011, made a loss after tax of US$ 19.0 million. The majority of these losses were predominantly due to the start-up and establishment costs of opening the Angola and Ghana operational hubs.  

"In addition to the partnership with easyGroup, a key benefit of the Transaction to Lonrho is the substantial cash resources held by Rubicon (£8.8m as at 31 December 2011) which will be available for continued investment in the airline business following Completion.  

Fastjet will focus on developing a true low cost airline for Africa based on the existing Lonrho Aviation platform which, in its existing operations as Fly540, had turnover of US$57 million and carried 525,375 passengers in the 15 months to 31st December 2011. Passenger loads continue to increase with Fly540 carrying 53,225 for the month of May 2012."

► NIGERIA: Air Nigeria grounded for safety checks; 787 deal likely a farce.

Air NigeriaIf its not strikes grounding Air Nigeria (VK), then its likely government departments acting too little, too late in the interests of public safety.

Ten days after Dana Air flight 9J-992's tragic crash whilst on approach into Lagos' Murtala Muhammed International Airport in which 153 people perished,  Harold Demuren, the Director-General of Nigeria’s Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) himself under heavy pressure since June 3, ordered grounded, the country's second largest carrier so as to carry out a safety audit.
"It is a routine action to enable us look at the airline’s operations before allowing it to go back to operations again, having been on strike for days. This is normal." quoted NCAA spokesman Sam Adurogboye. 

Air Nigeria boss Jimoh Ibrahim swiftly moved to deny that his airline had been grounded insisting instead, that his airline had willingly ceased operations of its own volition, and not, as reported, under duress.
“We are not grounded by anybody, but we decided not to fly today because we just felt that we should reorganize and create particular awareness because we’re coming out of (a) strike,” Ibrahim said. He said flights should resume Thursday.

The whole debacle started, it seems, with the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) strike of 1 June where one of the grievances was that management had not availed enough money to the Engineers to allow them to maintain the aircraft adequately. On ending the week-long strike, NAAPE President Isaac Balami rescinded that claim, and restated that in actuality, the strike had only been about "social benefits".

Then, following the Dana Air crash, John I. Nnorom, a former Executive Director for Finance at Air Nigeria who resigned his appointment with the airline on April 1, 2012, published a stinging article in the Nigerian press, condemning Air Nigeria's safety record, and imploring people not to fly the airline for safety reasons. 

John Nnorom
John Nnorom (MercyJohnson)
"He (Nnorom) disclosed that Air Nigeria is in financial crisis because money loaned by Bank of Industry of N35.5Billion has been diverted into Mr. Ibrahim’s NICON INVESTMENT LTD, a non-finance company popularly called wonder bank, leading to air safety being compromised, and stressed that there is a great possibility of a disastrous Air Nigeria crash, which can occur at any time.

He recalled that in Jan 2012, Licensed Engineers in Air Nigeria went on strike because they were being forced to certify unfit aircraft into the air, and another strike was averted in March 2012 following the intervention of the DG-NCAA, Demureen.  Both events, he said, were based on failure on Failure To Meet Safety Standard, and are verifiable information the public is aware of."
 Read More Here [SaharReporters]

Naturally, Air Nigeria moved to rebuff Nnorom's claims by labelling him an "illiterate in the maintenance of aircraft and a criminal".

Then, Nigerian Press investigations revealed that Air Nigeria's claims to have signed a deal to buy four Boeing 787 Dreamliners for $887 million through a loan with the U.S. Export-Import Bank was denied to The Associated Press by officials at both Boeing and the bank 

So, could there be an element of truth in Nnorom's claims? Or is he simply a butthurt ex-employee out to smear his former employers?

In the end, the age old dictum that states "there are three sides to every story: Yours, mine and the truth" is most relevant, though when dealing with Nigeria one can only be assured of ever hearing the "Yours and Mine" part; the Truth? Well good luck with that one...

► RÉUNION: Air Austral restructures Africa routes.

Air Austral
Troubled French carrier, Air Austral (UU), who last month announced the cancellation of several of its Provence France destinations as well as its Australia and New Caledonia routes, is to reorganize several of its African destinations, as it fights back from a miserable 2011 Financial Year, which saw it cancelling its order for two Airbus A380s.

Air Austral A380
A rendering of Air Austral's A380 (flightglobal)
The announced changes:
Air Austral
St. Denis de la Reunion – Dzaoudzi (Mayotte FOT) – Moroni (Comoros):

Twice weekly service moves from Tuesday & Sunday to Monday & Thursday.
  • UU255 RUN1100 – 1210DZA1310 – 1350HAH 738 14
  • UU256 HAH1450 – 1530DZA1650 – 1950RUN 738 14

St. Denis de la Reunion – Johannesburg (South Africa):
Operational schedule changes for the two weekly flights, moving from night-time to afternoon/evening hours, as well as moving from Thursday & Sunday to Monday & Thursday.
  • UU341 RUN1515 – 1725JNB 738 4
  • UU311 RUN1515 – 1725JNB 738 1
  • UU342 JNB1825 – 0015+1RUN 738 4
  • UU312 JNB1825 – 0015+1RUN 738 1

St. Denis de la Reunion – Nossi-Be (Madagascar) – Dzaoudzi (Mayotte FOT/Comoros)
Service increases from 2x to 3x weekly
  • UU203 RUN1100 – 1150NOS1235 – 1320DZA 738 257
  • UU204 DZA1520 – 1605NOS1650 – 1930RUN 738 257

St. Denis de la Reunion – Seychelles
Twice weekly service moving from Thursday & Saturday to Wednesday & Friday.
  • UU431 RUN0900 – 1140SEZ 738 3
  • UU451 RUN0900 – 1140SEZ 738 5
  • UU432 SEZ1230 – 1505RUN 738 3
  • UU452 SEZ1230 – 1505RUN 738 5
St. Denis de la Reunion – Toamasina (Madagascar)

Service reduces from 3x to 2x weekly.
  • UU555 RUN1530 – 1620TMM AT7 5
  • UU515 RUN1530 – 1620TMM AT7 1
  • UU556 TMM1705 – 1950RUN AT7 5
  • UU516 TMM1705 – 1950RUN AT7 1

Dzaoudzi (Mayotte FOT) – Mahajanga (Madagascar)

Twice weekly service moving from Wednesday & Friday to Wednesday & Saturday.
  • UU244 DZA1310 – 1355MJN 738 36
  • UU245 MJN1445 – 1530DZA 738 36

► KENYA: Gulf Air reduces Nairobi service from October.

Gulf Air
Bahrain-based carrier Gulf Air (GF) will reduce its Bahrain - Nairobi, Kenya service from 6x weekly, to 5x weekly effective Winter 2012 (i.e 28 October 2012).

Gulf Air started services to Nairobi last year in July. 

Of late, the carrier has had viability problems on some of its Africa routes, most notably Entebbe, Uganda, which was axed after just 4 months in service.

Gulf Air Airbus
A Gulf Air Airbus A319 (DJ)
Gulf Air: Bahrain – Nairobi, Kenya
 - Effective 28 October 2012, service reduces from 6x to 5x weekly
  • GF715 BAH1005 – 1515NBO 319 23
  • GF717 BAH2120 – 0230+1NBO 319 456
  • GF718 NBO0315 – 0805BAH 319 567
  • GF716 NBO1600 – 2050BAH 319 23
Read More Here [Airline Route] 

■ MOROCCO: Bombardier to build plant in Casablanca.

Canadian aircraft manufacturer, Bombardier Aerospace, has announced plans to open an assembly plant in an Export Processing Zone (EPZ) in Casablanca, Morocco, pending Moroccan Government approval.

Located near Casablanca's Mohammed V International Airport, the Nouaceur MidParc EPZ offers investors a 5 year tax-free honeymoon period, after which the rate rises to 8.75% for the next 20 years.

intention of investing approximately USD$200 million in equipment, buildings and start-up costs over the next eight years though it has only now decided on an actual site.

A nearly-completed Q400 in Montreal (Steelhead)
Scheduled to be implemented in phases starting in 2012, Bombardier Aerospace’s new Moroccan facility will initially include sub-assembly capabilities for simple structures. The new facility is scheduled to start manufacturing in 2013. Details on the type of components to be manufactured will be finalized in the coming months.

By the end of 2020, employment at the Morocco facility is expected to reach 850 skilled and trained workers. Bombardier Aerospace anticipates that there will be no impact on its current workforce level at other sites as a result of this announcement.

Morocco's economy has seen a minor boom in recent years thanks to free trade deals with international partners, amongst whom there is French car manufacturer Renault who, in February, opened a massive USD$1.5billion plant in a similar EPZ in Tangiers.