Tuesday, May 31, 2011

First global tourism destination alliance launched

The IIPT Peace Through Tourism conference in Zambia was the venue for the pre-launch for the International Council of Tourism Partners (ICTP) first global travel and tourism destination alliance.
The CEO of the Seychelles Tourism Board, Alain St.Ange and chairman of the International Council of Tourism Partners eTN Publisher Juergen Thomas Steinmetz used Lusaka, Zambia IIPT conference "Meeting the Challenges of Climate Change to Tourism" to make a pre-launch announcement for the new International Council of Tourism Partners destination alliance.
ICTP members will actively support national Green Growth strategies and Carbon Targets and: they will be identified as committed to sustainable Travel & Tourism.
They will receive on line Sustainability Support from greenearth.travel and marketing support by a world class team of marketing professionals.
Greenearth will help them understand the issues and opportunities in Green Growth – economic / climate / social / environment linkages and balance.
Through the Live the Deal program they will be able to understand in simple terms, their governments’ carbon reduction targets as well as best global techniques and technologies for their own programs. It will also provide a source of information and guidance for employees.
ICTP alliance members will benefit from joint marketing and branding opportunities in primary and secondary markets. It may be ideal for smaller to medium size destinations whenever one destination is not able to do it alone. It will include trade shows, road shows, telephone and virtual meetings with tourism stake holders, joint media outreach on a global scale.
The global travel alliance is:
• Ideal for small to medium size destination
• A joint marketing effort. When one destination is unable to do it alone (i.e. provide representation at trade shows, organize/present electronic and virtual conferences, public relations, publicity, advertising and sales promotions projects), the synergy of the alliance will enable even the smallest destination to have representation
• Joint media outreach through the organization of media conferences in primary and secondary markets
• Strategic alliances for public – private partnership development
• Shared market research projects
• Development of a domestic /international Smart Card reward system for trade professionals and leisure travelers
Board of Directors
The alliance initial board members include Geoffrey Lipman, director of Greenearth, former assistance secretary General for the UNWTO, and first president of the WTTC (World Travel and Tourism Council)
Feisol Hashim, owner of the Alam Hotel Group in Indonesia and former head of ASEAN Tourism, and former member of the PATA industry board. Feisol is also the Hon. Consul for Malaysia in Bali, Indonesia.
Alain St.Ange: Head of the Seychelles Tourism Board and pioneer of the world famous Seychelles Carnival.
Juergen Thomas Steinmetz: Publisher of eTurboNews, member of the UNWTO Task Group against exploitation of children through tourism, member of the
US Department of Commerce Export Council, member of the PATA industry board.
Besides the Seychelles and Zimbabwe additional founding members in various parts of the world are interested to join as founding members before the official launch at the World Travel Market in London in November. They include cities, regions and countries on all continents. Their goal is to increase business for alliance member destinations.
The International Institute for Peace Through Tourism and the Africa Travel Association pledged their willingness to cooperate with this new alliance.
The secretariat will be operated in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA, Brussels, Belgium and Victoria, Seychelles. A new web portal will be introduced before the World Travel Market.

Iberia Offers Destinations in Africa and The Middle East

Iberia's customers can now book to new destinations in Africa and the Middle East. 
Since today, under code shares with British Airways, the Spanish airline is offering flights to Accra (Ghana), Lusaka (Zambia), Riyadh and Jeddah (Saudi Arabia). Meanwhile, British Airways has added its code to Iberia flights to Santiago de Chile, Guatemala and San Salvador.

The new code-sharing arrangements are a consequence of the merger of Iberia and British on January 24 of this year. Since then, more and more flights have both airlines’ codes. British Airways is placing its code in Iberia’s Latin American destinations, while Iberia is placing its code in British Airways flights to Africa, Asia and the Middle East. More destinations will be added to this code-share agreement in the coming months, so customers from both airlines will have access to a broader network.
Flights operated by each airline are progressively becoming available on the other's web site and telephone reservations lines. It is also possible in certain routes to combine fares of the two airlines, and to choose the most suitable. Other advantages to passengers include access to more than 120 VIP lounges in Airport s around the world.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Air Zimbabwe crisis deepens

THE Air Zimbabwe board has decided to keep a low profile until the expiry of its term of office as it is allegedly being bypassed by the parent ministry of Transport and Communication in making crucial decisions.
The board is chaired by farmer-cum- businessman Jonathan Kadzura and its term of office ends in August.

Standardbusiness understands that at one time board members contemplated resigning en masse but chickened out fearing a backlash from government.

What has irked the board is that a senior transport ministry official had allegedly become a de-facto executive chairman of the airline making decisions without consulting the board.

“He has made sure he does not consult the board. Honestly, how can you have a ministry official entering into an agreement with striking pilots without the involvement of either the board or management?” asked one board member.

“What he is saying is that we are irrelevant so we have decided to wait until our term of office expires then leave the airline for good.”

Transport ministry permanent secretary Partson Mbiriri’s mobile phone was unavailable while Kadzura’s phone went unanswered on Friday.

In January, Mbiriri allegedly struck an agreement with the striking pilots to resume work after they had downed tools.

The board recommended that the pilots be fired since the strike was illegal but the resolution was overruled by the ministry.

The January agreement could not be honoured by the ministry triggering another industrial action in March by the pilots which grounded the airline.
The ministry intervened again after it availed US$3,8 million to pay salaries and buy fuel among other expenses.

In 2009, Transport and Communication minister Nicholas Goche promised to rectify the problem.

While the board and the ministry are poles apart, the airline is deteriorating by the day. Air Zimbabwe has over the years degenerated into a museum of mismanagement attributed to government interference.

Analysts say government has to move out of the airline to stop the financial haemorrhage.

Board blames government
Board members said on Friday the decline at the airline could be attributed to government which made sure that AirZim had no competition.
Despite opening up the skies, government continued to stop airlines that wanted to compete with AirZim.

Fly Kumba was denied permission to fly the Harare-Johannesburg route because it would compete with AirZim.

AirZim’s decline comes at a time when airlines flying into Zimbabwe have increased frequencies citing growing passenger volumes.

South African Airways, Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airlines and Zambezi have all enjoyed flying into Zimbabwe due to increased passenger volumes.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Amid a roaring rainbow: viewing the impressive Victoria Falls

Livingstone/Victoria Falls - The merchants outside the park are selling rain capes, even though there's not a cloud in the sky.
The forest is a deep green and a hot sun is brightly beating down. Nothing is moving and the landscape is flat. And this is where there's supposed to be a gigantic waterfall?
There is very little to indicate that, barely a stone's throw away, there is a 108-metre-deep gorge, through which the waters of the 1,700-metre-wide Zambesi River will go plunging down. The only giveaway is a roaring noise.
Just one further turn in the road - and suddenly, the trees give way to reveal a view of the mighty Victoria Falls.
Beyond the barrier, the river plunges over the edge. The walls of the gorge fall away vertically and yet they are overgrown with lush vegetation. Both sides of the gorge are connected by the spectral colours of a rainbow. Depending on the angle of the light, there might even be two rainbows there together.
Whether it is the backpack traveller or the package tourist, what brings them here to the centre of southern Africa, on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, is a setting which could be the model for a romantic painting.
It was Scottish explorer David Livingstone, the first European to discover the falls in the year 1855, who spoke of the most marvellous view that Africa had ever offered him.
The sunlight is broken up virtually everywhere by the water's spray and converted into a rainbow. In order to view this spectacle, it is worth trying out different angles - one of them being a bird's-eye view.
The ultra-light airplane, actually just a motorised paraglider, lifts off from the runway, its steering controlled by a joystick. The pilot says he used to fly combat planes for the Zimbabwean army. Now, he flies tourists up over the waterfalls.
Some 200 metres below one's feet flows the Zambesi River. It separates Zambia from Zimbabwe and, at the Victoria Falls, slices deeply into the land. From the air, one can see the gigantic ledge of the falls all at once.
The light plane sails back over the Zambian national park Mosi-oa-Tunya, which means 'thundering smoke.' Close to the shore, elephants are grazing in the afternoon light. From the air they are hard to make out, but the silhouette of a crocodile, by contrast, is clearly to be seen in the river bed.
Then the plane lands again on the bumpy runway, located not far away from Livingstone on the Zambia side of the waterfalls. Most of the organized excursions start here. In the city, there are numerous banks and lodgings -- the good infrastructure is what attracts people.
In the Seven-Eleven in Victoria Falls Town, across the border in Zimbabwe, the offering of goods is more sparse. But the town's tourism sector has been able to recover somewhat after the political crisis of 2008.
Here and there, concealed behind the bushes on the edge of town, there are a few upmarket lodges. But there are scarcely any people to be seen on the streets. With a one-day visa for trips across the border, it is above all worthwhile to visit the national park in Zimbabwe.
In order to get over to the other side, moving from 'Zam' to 'Zim', the route leads across the Victoria Falls Bridge, 128 metres above the river. A few hundred metres back is the entrance to Victoria Falls National Park.
The air, always moist so close to the falls, helps a tropical rainforest to thrive here. The trail to the notorious Danger Point leads out of the forest and onto a field. A warning sign alerts walkers to the slippery stones along the way to the lookout point which is located directly next to the gorge.

Zimbabwe: NCA & MISA commemorate Africa Day

Harare- The National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) and the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zimbabwe Chapter commemorated the Africa Day in style by hosting two events on Tuesday 24 May 2011.
The commemorations which were part of the NCA’s ‘ Act Now Against Political Violence Targeting women Campaign’ kicked off with a Quill discussion  held at the Press Club and had several speakers who spoke on the significance of the day. The event was attended by scores of journalists, diplomats and various civic society activists.
NCA Chairperson Professor Lovemore Madhuku spoke strongly against political violence especially that targeted at women. He said that the NCA has experienced a lot of brutality against its members mainly  women who continue to be on the receiving end every time the nation goes to polls.
‘’We call upon our society to be very much alive to that level of abuse that we have experienced as a country. This is an occasion for us the NCA to showcase our determination and continue conscientising the public against political violence, ‘’said Professor Madhuku.
The NCA leader lambasted ZANU PF for using violence as a weapon to impose certain positions in trying to entrench themselves in power. Madhuku said that the NCA, through the Act now Against Political Violence Campaign  has lined up activities across the country encouraging communities to guard against these forms of violence. ‘’The best form of defence against violence is to create a democratic society were leaders respect the rights of citizens,’’ he lamented.
Speaking at the same meeting Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) President Lovemore Matombo said that Zimbabwe needs a leadership with a clear ideological standing in the mould of great Africa leaders like Julius Nyerere and Kwame Nkrumah.
Matombo also took the opportunity to castigate violence saying it is bad to society. ‘’We have witnessed our government institutionalizing violence  and this is not in line with the spirit of the liberation struggle,’’ he said.
Sharing the same platform Tsitsi Mhlanga from  Women in Politics Support Unity  (WiPSU) told the gathering that women are not adequately represented in the current constitutional making process. She called for the full implementation of the domestic violence Bill which she argues the authorities are not implementing.
After the Quill Speakers delegates to the meeting were treated to a thrilling performance by Zimbabwe’s oldest and popular reggae group the Transit Crew at a show held at the Mannernburg later that night. The gig dubbed ‘Afrika Day Special Gig’ started with messages of solidarity from representatives of the hosting organisations NCA and MISA Zimbabwe.
The group belted out conscious tunes with specific relevance to Africa playing songs like Are we a warrior-Ijahman Levi,  Africa Unite-Bob Marley, Addis Ababa –Joseph Hill among other tunes and they kept revellers to their feet all through the night.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Miss Zim embarks on water, sanitation project

Reigning Miss Zimbabwe, Malaika Mushandu, has embarked on a water and sanitation project which will see her training schoolchildren on hygiene issues and also facilitating drilling of water pumps to assist the water situation in the country.

Mushandu told NewsDay that she was trying to help improve the water and sanitation situation in Zimbabwe.

“It is my aim as Miss Zimbabwe to see to the well-being of Zimbabweans therefore I am going to drill boreholes around the country so as to assist those without water in their areas,” said Mushandu.

She has already been given three bush pumps by V&W Engineering, a local manufacturer of bush pumps, to help kick-start her project.

Vino Solanki, owner of V&W Engineering, said his company was also going to drill the bush pumps for free to assist the national beauty queen.

“Our company has always been involved in charity work. Once in a while we identify places such as rural areas, schools and clinics that are in need of water which we visit and drill the pumps for them,” said Solanki.

He added that they were going to assist Mushandu as sanitation was critical to human life.

“Statistics show that mortality improves if people have proper water and sanitation. We are going to work with Malaika to try and reduce the country’s mortality rates,” said Solanki.

Mushandu said she was driven to work on the water and sanitation project as it was no secret that at a certain stage, cholera, dysentery and water-borne diseases hindered the growth of the tourism sector in Zimbabwe.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Airlines lose N7.2bn to aviation fuel scarcity

The un-abating scarcity of aviation fuel, known as JET-A1, which is an essential commodity in flight operations is hitting airlines harder by the day, as many of them are now cutting their flight schedules, out-rightly canceling them or delaying flights to enable them take full advantage of the meager supply from marketers.
The airlines are said to have lost in two weeks N7.2 billion to aviation fuel scarcity.
The product sells for N160 per litre from N98 which it hitherto sold for.
As a result of the scarcity, oil marketers are unable to supply enough JET-A1 to airlines. The price of the commodity in Nigeria is regarded as the highest in the world, leaving operators to groan under heavy operational costs, of which aviation fuel alone, accounts for over 50 percent.
Currently, some of the major airlines like Arik Air, Aero and Air Nigeria are finding it difficult to cope with the situation which has refused to abate.
Two weeks ago, when the scarcity again became noticeable, Arik Air and Air Nigeria’s flights that were scheduled to depart Enugu at 10.30a.m could not do so until 5.30p.m, leading to protests from passengers.
By the following Tuesday, an Aero flight scheduled to depart Lagos for Abuja at 9.50p.m did not depart the airport until well past midnight. The passengers only arrived at their destinations at 2a.m the next day.
One of the passengers on the flight said the flight was originally scheduled to depart at 5.55pm, but was asked to reschedule for 9.50p.m.
According to an Arik Air passenger, “The excuse they gave us was that they have not been able to get fuel from oil marketers due to its scarcity, but they have kept us in the dark since morning. The only thing I want from them now is the refund of my money.”
Another passenger of the airline to Port Harcourt who refused to disclose her identity said she was billed to sit for an exam in Port Harcourt penultimate Tuesday at 2p.m, but as at 5:30p.m, she was still stranded at the Lagos airport.
This development has put virtually all the airlines in a tight corner, leading to massive cut on their scheduled routes, amid serious competition for the few available seats offered to travellers.
Arik for instance, does an estimated 120 flights per day, but could only do 80 flights leading to a loss of 40 flights as a result of delays and cancellations, thus losing N269 million a day. Arik spends N400 million on fuel every week.
As for Aero Contractors which is second largest domestic carrier, and ordinarily operates about 80 flights per day, it has been operating between 40 and 45 flights per day leaving it with a short fall of about 15 to 20 flights per day. The airline by calculation has been losing close to N119 million per day.
Also lamenting the loss which his airline has had to endure, a senior official with IRS said the airline operates 15 flights daily, but has had to scale down flight operations. The airline operates with Fokker 100 which carries at least 100 passengers at once. For having to slow down on its operations, it is losing well over N25 million a day to the biting cost of aviation fuel.
And for Air Nigeria, the third largest airline, BusinessDay investigations show that the airline is losing about N100 million a day. “We have had to cope with the crippling effect of this aviation gas for operations. You can see we can’t fly as well as we should and have had to ration our routes,” an official of the airline said.
As a result of the high cost of the commodity in the country, both local and international airlines say they prefer to refuel their aircraft in neighboring countries like Ghana, Togo and elsewhere, thereby depriving the country from milking from the huge businesses that abound.
Lamenting the situation, Harold Demuren, director general, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), said while marketers have raised the price of their product over time, the carriers have only marginally increased air fares and thus stressed: “We cannot operate this way.”
Demuren noted that, “The price of aviation fuel in Nigeria is ridiculously too high. We need to knock this down. We are working on it and I believe we will be able to do this. We can’t continue this way.”
The marketers have however attributed the cost of the product to high cost of import, maintaining that crude oil is not refined in Nigeria.
While they say they regretted that the cost of refining and importation to Nigeria were on the high side, they added that only when these are solved could the industry witness stability.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has set a 24-month target to carry out full rehabilitation work on the country’s three refineries for maximum efficiency.
The refineries are Port Harcourt Refining Company with an installed capacity of 210, 000 barrels of crude oil per day; Kaduna Refining and Petrochemicals Company with a production capacity of 110,000 barrels per day and Warri Refining and Petrochemicals Company with an installed capacity of 125,000 barrels per day, bringing the total national capacity to 445, 000 barrels per day.
BusinessDay gathered that when completed, the Federal Government is expected to save annual revenue of about N1.3 trillion currently spent on petroleum products importation and the associated subsidy, which has become a major cesspool for oil cartels in the country.
All these targets are coming on the heels of the ongoing negotiation with the Chinese for the construction of three new Greenfield Refineries to be sited in Lagos, Bayelsa and Kogi States.
A top presidency source told BusinessDay on Sunday that the nation’s carrier, the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), has already mobilised financial resources from its internally generated funds to handle the major rehabilitation works in the affected refineries.
BusinessDay investigations revealed that Austen Oniwon, Group Managing Director (GMD), NNPC, under the directives of Diezani Alison-Madueke, minister of petroleum resources, has begun ordering long lead items ahead of the conclusion of negotiations between NNPC and JGC/Tecnimont Consortium, the original contractors that built the refinery, by August this year, for the commencement of the rehabilitation works at the Port Harcourt refinery, the first on the line of rehabilitation, which is expected to be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2012.
Kaduna Refinery is expected to follow immediately, in the 24 months rehabilitation timetable of the Federal Government, while Warri, which is currently operating at over 65 percent installed capacity will end the rehabilitation programme before the end of 2013.
Though the source was reluctant to say how much NNPC will be spending in all for the rehabilitation of the three refineries, BusinessDay, however, gathered that the Port Harcourt refinery alone is expected to gulp not more than N1.5 billion ($150 million).
Once completed, the presidency source, who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity, said the country will once again return to the part of sufficiency in kerosene and diesel production, thus ending the long years of sufferings of the ordinary Nigerian.
“This is going to save the Federal Government huge sums of money because in the first place, government is not going to spend a kobo to do the work. NNPC through its savings has been able to muster enough resources to carry out the work. This is not only a feat under the current minister of petroleum resources and the GMD of NNPC, but also for Nigeria as a country. This is the first time that NNPC is undertaking this type of exercise that it won’t be asking for Federal Government financial intervention,” the source said.

West Midland Safari Park opens African themed Village

West Midland Safari Park has opened a new African themed Village as part of their £1m investment in new attractions that are being launched during 2011.
The new walk-through exhibit is located in an area beside a natural lake that formed part of 'Spring Grove' in grounds landscaped by Capability Brown dating back to the 1800's.
This African inspired interactive Village comes complete with eight rendered and thatched village 'huts', that incorporate animal housing, a gift shop and an example of an African home that allows visitors to peek behind the scenes to catch a glimpse of what life could be like in an African Village. The 'home' comes complete with outside living area and its own vegetable plot.
There are plenty of friendly animal encounters that include the opportunity to feed some of the free range Somali Sheep, Pygmy Goats and Cameroon Sheep. Whilst the Village Keeper carries out a variety of themed talks to accompany timed animal feeding demonstrations and introduce other small animals such as the Giant African land snail or Pygmy Hedgehog.
Bob Lawrence, Director of Wildlife, said, "When you enter the African Village you feel the true spirit of Africa. The animals that now live in that area are indigenous to Africa and Madagascar. Whilst the African theming is exceptional the area is equally well equipped and comes complete with thermostatically controlled animal heating, an audio display and fibre optic broadband - therefore it's probably one of the most high tech African Villages in the world"!
West Midland Safari and Leisure Park is open daily, including Bank Holidays, up to Friday 4th November 2011.
"The African Village" is included as part of the standard admission charge of £13.99 for adults, £11.99 for children. A family saver ticket costs £46.76, which admits two adults and two children and offers a 10% saving on standard admission prices. Admission prices also include a free return ticket. Amusement rides are charged extra in all cases.

48 Drivers Enlist for 2011 Safari- Kenya

The entry deadline for next month's KCB Safari Rally closed on Monday the event attracting 48 drivers.
The event co-sponsored by Car Track, Identisys, ALS, iWay Africa, Keringet and Pelican has a total rally distance of 530km and a competitive mileage of 200km.
As the clock ticks towards "The True African Experience" , a number of big-names including African Rally Championship (ARC) contenders and top local drivers have already signed up to take on the remote gravel rally in Athi River and Kajiado from June 17-19.
They include current FIA African champion Jamie Whyte from Zimbabwe, Rwandese Giancarlo Davite, Ugandan Jas Mangat, the crowd-pleasing 'Moto Moto' Datsun Debe pick up of Kenyan Peter Horsey and his brother Alex-who will become the first ever competitor to drive a Mitsubishi Evo X in the Safari. They join an elite group of Kenyans speedsters who have the strength and mental stamina to tackle the three-day event with a route course synonymous to the now-defunct World Rally Championship (WRC) Safari Rally.
Current KQ East African Safari Classic winner Ian Duncan (Evo9), who won the WRC Safari series edition in 1994 leads the way alongside three-time former Kenya Champion Azar Anwar and defending KNRC Champion Alastair Cavenagh. Alex who put up a fine drive in the recent KCB Rally in Eldoret has dared the 'big boys' for a podium dash in the event.
Alex recorded a career best third overall on the debut of his Mitsubishi Evo X, the first time one of these cars has rallied on Kenyan soil.
"We've proved how competitive the car is with two fastest stage times but there is still a lot more to come from me in terms of how I drive it," said Alex who has vowed to fight for a podium finish this time round.
Event's director Dali Kalsi said the secretariat at Kenya Motor Sports Foundation (KMSF) is excited with the entries as well as the progress made so far. "Things are moving at a remarkable pace," said Kalsi who doubles up as the clerk of the course.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Ethiopian Airlines puts eight aircraft up for sale

Ethiopian Airlines this week announced it is selling five Fokker 50 and three decommissioned Boeing 757-200ER passenger aircraft in order to meet strict safety regulations set by the European Union, and increase revenue for the carrier.

The 54-seat Fokker 50s have been in service with Ethiopian for more than 15 years and are being replaced by eight Bombardier Q400 NextGen turboprops, which were bought at a cost of US$242 million in November 2008. The first Q400 arrived in March last year.

The state-owned carrier has put the Fokkers up for sale and has invited interested parties to enter into negotiations. "The airline is already conducting direct negotiations with several domestic and foreign potential buyers to sell off these aircraft," said Henok Tefera, an official at Ethiopian, AllAfrica reports.

Ethiopian’s 757s are ageing and are due to be replaced by the oft-delayed 787 Dreamliner. On April 5 last year, a 757-200 flying from Addis Ababa to Rome Fiumicino experienced a hydraulic failure related to the landing gear. The aircraft landed safely but the flight was delayed for 17 hours whilst the problem was fixed.

Ethiopian has around 40 aircraft on its order book, including ten Boeing 787 Dreamliners, 12 Airbus A350s, five Boeing 777s, ten Boeing 737s and eight Bombardier Q400s. Ethiopian was the first African airline to order the 787 when it did so in February 2005. Ethiopian expects the first two Dreamliners to arrive in January next year.

Ethiopian Airlines initiated an extensive fleet renewal project early in the millennium, something which is improving the safety and reliability of the carrier. Many African airlines have had operations disrupted due to safety concerns - the European Union on April 20 banned 269 carriers from 23 countries from flying in European airspace, citing safety concerns. Of these, 151 carriers are from 15 African nations.

A further motivation for selling the out of service aircraft is to improve fuel economy and raise cash. 39% of Ethiopian’s spending went to the rising cost of fuel, according to its nine-month report released earlier this month. This is up 67% from the same period last year. "The competition is not healthy, especially from the Middle East, as the carriers' fuel are subsidised," Henok said. "This is the context in which we are operating."

Monday, May 16, 2011

Heavy Rains Falling Across Africa

Above average rainfall has been falling in many parts of the sub-Saharan African region since 2010, including countries like Angola, Namibia, Tanzania, Cameroon, Congo, and Madagascar.
The data comes from the Climate Prediction Center of the U.S. National Weather Service, which noted that large rainfalls have, in some places, exceeded the yearly average in a single day. In many parts of the continent, flooding persistent rains have flooded temporary rivers like the Kuiseb in Namibia and the Boteti in Botswana, both of which have recorded highs over the past year or so.
The map below depicts the rainfall for Namibia and South Africa on May 5, 2011, a day which saw more rain fall in the Namib Desert than normally falls in an entire year.

Ranging through shades of green and blue, rainfall estimates – compiled by NASA’s Multi-satellite Precipitation Analysis, based on data from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) – range from 20 millimetres (0.8 inches) to greater than 70 millimetres (2.8 inches).
This compared to the average of less than 20 millimetres falling in the Namib Desert near the coast each year.
The main photo depicts what is likely a “shelf cloud” rolling over the Central Namib west coast, a cloud associated with a high precipitation supercell thunderstorm. According to NASA’s Earth Observatory, “the cloud spreads out at ground level due to a strong downdraft, which produces an advancing wedge of condensed water. Essentially, as large amounts of rain fall, the large and heavy rain droplets pull the air down with them. The curl at the bottom occurs because the down-drafting winds hit the Earth’s surface and spread out.”
During the most recent storm in southern regions, Francois Snyders of the Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism told The Cape Times that the Fish River area “got 50 millimeters of rain, which is more than the annual rainfall for the canyon.” Two dams, the Hardop and the Naute, were over capacity and had to open sluice gates.
Government officials and international aid and relief agencies have estimated that several hundred residents have been displaced or disrupted by flooding in Namibia, on top of the 62 who have died. Further concern is held for the ditches being caused by the heavy rains, which could have an impact on the roads, and the possibility of increased water- or mosquito-borne diseases due to stagnant water.

Zimbabwe's National Airline Defaults

Zimbabwe’s national airline has been suspended from the International Air Transport Association for failing to pay its dues. Air Zimbabwe, one of Africa’s oldest airlines, has other major financial and operational difficulties.

Top executives at Air Zimbabwe say they are trying to find about $280,000 from the government to pay the International Air Transport Association so it can resume foreign bookings.

The International Air Transport Association has ordered international travel agents to refund foreign travelers with bookings placed with Air Zimbabwe.

The airline, founded 47 years ago, has suffered several strikes this year when pilots refused to work until they were paid what they said were outstanding allowances.

Several privately owned Zimbabwean newspapers have recently reported Air Zimbabwe is massively overstaffed for its small fleet of aircraft.

The airline says its most profitable flight is its twice-weekly Harare to London run, as the airline is the only one in Zimbabwe flying directly to Britain. Most other major airlines pulled out of Zimbabwe under the former ZANU-PF government.

Air Zimbabwe chairman Jonathan Kadzura said recently the pilots’ strike had hammered Air Zimbabwe’s liquidity.

Earlier this year, when President Robert Mugabe regularly travelled to Asia for medical treatment, striking pilots were ordered to fly the 87-year-old leader on a charter Air Zimbabwe flight to Johannesburg to catch a connection to Singapore. Mugabe, unlike his colleagues in government, shuns medical treatment in Zimbabwe or South Africa.

The Air Zimbabwe board said recently it needs to upgrade the small national fleet, but did not have sufficient funds to do so.  Many  economic analysts in Zimbabwe say that the airline is a financial drain on the economy and should be privatized.

Air Zimbabwe officials in Harare and London say many travelers lost confidence in the airline’s reliability after the pilots' strike.

But since Zimbabwe's unity government came to power 27 months ago, tourism has revived and many foreign tourists travelled to and around the country with Air Zimbabwe.

The airline continues to operate locally and with its Johannesburg to Harare flights. 

Zimbabwe struggles to raise foreign loans to repair infrastructure devastated under Mugabe’s rule, before the unity government was formed.  Finance Minister Tendai Biti has said that Zimbabwe has a cash economy, and that he has to run the country on tax revenues, which have slowed this year.

The Zimbabwean government is unable to access loans from the International Monetary Fund because it is in arrears and because of U.S. and European sanctions imposed in 2002 after violent elections.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Qatar Airways joins tight airline market competition

National carrier, Qatar Airways, has announced a further expansion of its international route network with Uganda, Azerbaijan and Georgia, joining its growing list of countries served direct from the airline’s Doha hub.
This development could tighten competition in the respective markets.
The daily non-stop scheduled flights to Uganda are due to begin on November 2, marking the carrier’s first new route to the African continent since early 2007.
This will be followed by the airline’s expansion into Central Asia where it is expected to introduce daily non-stop flights to Baku then continue onto Tbilisi, the capital cities of Azerbaijan and Georgia respectively.
The announcement comes as the Doha-based carrier prepares for a busy few months ahead with the launch of scheduled flights to Shiraz, Venice and Montreal in June; Kolkata (Calcutta) in July; Sofia in September and Oslo in October.
Qatar’s entrance into the country brings the total number airlines to21.
Unveiling the expansion plans in Dubai on may 2, Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said the new routes demonstrate the airline’s ambitious strategy to continue opening up new routes to popular and underserved markets.
Uganda is fast emerging as a regional trading centre with links to Europe and the Far East, but has limited international air services.
Qatar Airways is set to fill this gap with its huge international network of routes via its Doha base.
The three newest routes will be operated with Airbus A320 aircraft in a two-class configuration of 12 seats in Business Class and 132 in Economy.
“There is clear demand and huge potential and, as a network global carrier, we shall be able to fulfill the needs of the travelling public from these three countries and for those wanting to travel there from markets we serve around the world,” Mr Al Baker said.
“Qatar Airways already has a successful operation to the Russian capital Moscow. Expanding our presence deeper into Central Asia has been a focus of ours for some time so it is with extreme delight to be able to announce we will soon have new routes to add in this part of the world.”
He said the Airline is proud to reinforce its presence in Africa, four years after its last move thereas it launched flights to Tanzania’s capital city of Dar es Salaam.

In-flight Internet still coming to South Africa

In-flight Internet will be available to SA air passengers as soon as the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) gives it the green light.

An application for in-flight Internet will be submitted to the South African Civil Aviation Authority this month, said Wireless G CEO Carel van der Merwe. Wireless G has the sole rights to provide the service in Africa starting from May 1.

According to Internet service provider Wireless G, the satellite-based technology, which delivers high-speed Internet at high altitude, will be rolled out locally in partnership with one airline, which it could not reveal at this time.

Wireless G earlier said in-flight Internet would be available as soon as April. Earlier this year, Mango Airlines announced it was going to offer Internet connectivity onboard for its Johannesburg and Cape Town routes from 1 May. However, this project did not take off as planned.

Although Mango was to be the first airline to offer the service, Wireless G is in discussions with other airlines.

However, the SACAA said there has been no formal application nor approval granted by the authority for in-flight usage of Internet services. Wireless G said it will submit an application to the SACAA this month.

van der Merwe said in-flight Internet will be a major breakthrough in terms of convenience, productivity, entertainment and advantages of having communication in general. He said this will benefit more than 19 million local airline passengers.

“SA is a country with a device penetration rate of more than 100% and broadband take-up grows more than 30% per annum. In-flight WiFi is the missing link in telecommunications,” he said.

Two factors that determine the solution viability in Africa are the bandwidth capacity to meet user expectations and the route coverage over remote areas, Van der Merwe pointed out. “There is only one solution at this point in time that caters for this, which is WiFi connected to satellite backhaul, he said.

Using Fli G-Connect will be the same as picking up a Wi-Fi signal from anywhere else, with speeds consistent with the normal Wireless G Wi-Fi hotspot experience. Either a voucher is purchased or a customer puts in existing G-Connect account details. The service will be cheaper for G-Connect customers, who would also be able to take unused bandwidth with them.

Wireless G said that on-board connectivity is a common request from airline passengers, and that 95% of frequent fliers in the United States agree with the statement that in-flight Wi-Fi is "the best thing airlines have done" in the last three years. 50% of business travellers take Wi-Fi enabled flights to be "reachable" during business hours, WirelessG said.

According to Wakefield Research and the Wi-Fi Alliance, Wi-Fi has clearly become a major decision-factor in frequent fliers' choosing of airlines. 76% of frequent fliers would change their airline to have in-flight Wi-Fi. 55% of them would change their flight by a full day to have it. And another 71% of frequent fliers would prefer Wi-Fi access rather than meal service.

On Virgin America flights 10-15% of passengers pay for in-flight Internet and on transcontinental flights up to a quarter of passengers make use of the service, Wireless G said. Due to shorter flights within South Africa, early models show a 15% take-up rate will be critical.

The technology uses a low-profile antenna, four compact line replaceable units, a server management unit, a high power amplifier, an antenna control unit and a modem data unit on each equipped aircraft.

To deliver a WiFi signal, one or more wireless access units will also need to be placed in the aircraft.

Van der Merwe said WirelessG is ready in terms of getting the first aircraft connected. “Further announcements related to progress and readiness will be made together with our first airline and backhaul provider partners.”

SACAA spokesman, Kabelo Ledwaba, said just like fitting any additional equipment on aircraft; this equipment will have to first be approved by the SACAA. In this case, the applicant will have to apply for and be issued with a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) Safety certification.

Moreover, provided that an STC is issued for a particular type of aircraft, an airline or operator may apply for the piece of equipment to be installed for each individual aircraft and that will be recorded in the aircraft file.

Regardless, Ledwaba said that to enable in-flight Internet usage, an aircraft would have to be modified with equipment such as antennae, wiring, and the like, in order to enable in-flight WiFi transmission.

The STC has already been approved by the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) and will be submitted to the CAA this month, Van der Merwe said.

Last week the SACAA announced that it would now allow the use of cellphones onboard. This means while a passenger's phone is on in-flight mode, they will be able to connect to the in-flight WiFi, WirelessG said.

“It would, therefore, come as no surprise when we receive an application by an operator who may want to provide passengers with an additional benefit, thus gaining competitive edge over other airlines,” the SACAA said.

The safety of in-flight wireless Internet has already been approved by the FAA and the technology has been installed on some 800 planes in America already. Extensive testing was done in the United States to ensure the equipment does not interfere with aircraft avionics.

Emirates to launch Airbus A380 to Johannesburg

Emirates airline announced that Johannesburg, the industrial and economic capital of South Africa, will be the next destination slated for its flagship A380 aircraft.
The daily A380 service will start October 1.
The announcement of Emirates’ first scheduled A380 service to Africa comes as the airline revealed a surge in the number of South African travellers flying with Emirates – with total passenger growth up 12 per cent over the previous financial year. Overall revenue from the South African market also rose sharply, up 34 per cent from 2009-10.
The year that saw South Africa host the highly successful 2010 FIFA World Cup also saw Emirates record a huge rise in inbound traffic to South Africa – with passenger volumes up 20 per cent in the calendar year 2010. As an official FIFA Partner, Emirates helped to bring the world to South Africa by flying in football fans from across its network of six continents.
“We have enjoyed a successful partnership with South Africa since launching services in 1995, and now connect our Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban gateways to our vast global network through 42 non-stop flights each week to Dubai,” said Tim Clark, president Emirates Airline.
The 489-seat Emirates A380 offers 14 Private First Class Suites, 76 lie-flat beds in Business Class and 399 seats in Economy Class. First Class passengers have access to two onboard shower spas, while all premium passengers on the upper deck can socialise at 40,000 feet in the onboard lounge. Beverages and bar snacks are served once the aircraft reaches cruising altitude - all the way until descent.
The A380 service will operate daily as EK 761, departing Dubai at 0440hrs (local time) and arriving at O R Tambo International Airport at 1050hrs (local). The return flight, EK762, departs Johannesburg at 1410hrs (local) and arrives in Dubai at 0010hrs (local) the following day.
The new A380 service will also help to support the thriving trade relationship between South Africa and the UAE, which has enjoyed an average year-on-year growth of eight per cent since 2007.
Emirates currently operates a three times daily service to Johannesburg, a double-daily service to Cape Town and a daily service to Durban.
Emirates currently serves 19 passenger and cargo destinations across the African continent

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Cheaper Flights Expected as Airline Capacity Rises

Travellers looking for a European getaway this summer should benefit from more affordable flights as capacity increases, according to travel site Travelmatch.

The site assessed seat availability to destinations such as the Costa del Sol and Marmaris, and using additional data from AOG Aviation, they concluded that Brits seeking Mediterranean holidays this year should find some bargains. OAG, a global aviation information company, found that airline capacity was up by 5 per cent in 2011, compared with 2010. 317 million seats were available to travellers in April 2011 across the world, and Europe showed a 2 per cent increase in capacity during the same period.

Travelmatch expected this to produce increased competition between airlines over the summer, resulting in lower prices for UK holidaymakers looking for cheap flights to Spain and beyond. Travelmatch's Alex Francis explained that Europe's capacity increases were due to airlines focusing their attention on the most popular resorts, as well as simply being part of a global increase in capacity.

" we believe this is fantastic news for British tourists as they should see prices fall as supply increases - this will also spur competition between different airlines, which will only serve to lower the overall cost of holidays further," said Mr Francis.

"Over the past decade we have seen prices drop considerably; we expect this trend to continue as increased capacity brings down the cost of air travel,” he added. “This is very exciting news for British travellers interested in booking stays in Marmaris and other fantastic spots around the Mediterranean."

Only South African Airways allows cellphones on flights

South African Airways (SAA) is currently the only airline that can test the feasibility of using cellphones on its flights, the SA Civil Aviation Authority (Sacaa) said on Friday.

"The Sacaa wishes to clarify that despite reports from some media outlets, SAA to date is the only operator/airline that officially applied and received the requisite exemption to test this possibility," spokesperson Kabelo Ledwaba said.

He said SAA was granted a six-month exemption in January and that the testing phase started on April 15.

One of the conditions of the exemption was that the airline submit a detailed proposal on how it would monitor the use of cellphones during flights.

The Sacaa would in addition conduct its own monitoring, Ledwaba said.

"The initial testing phase is for six months and, depending on the results of these tests, the Sacaa may conclude the testing phase or may request further tests."

The testing would take place on certain domestic routes, for each aircraft type in the SAA fleet and at certain specified times of the day.

There would also be onboard announcements advising passengers that testing would be conducted and guidelines on what the tests would entail.

He said the civil aviation regulator and the aeronautical information circular still prohibited the use of certain electronic devices, including cellphones on flights.

However, it acknowledged that technology advanced rapidly and the fact that airlines showed interest in testing the feasibility of using cellphones of flights came as no surprise.

We need healthy competition - South African Airways

South African Airways boss Siza Mzimela said she had no problem with plans by competitor Comair to introduce direct international flights between Durban and London, because it was a market the national airline did not serve.
She was responding to questions at a press conference following SAA’s annual breakfast at the Indaba tourism expo in Durban on Monday.
Mzimela’s comments came in the wake of the KwaZulu-Natal government and Dube TradePort Corporation announcing an agreement with Comair at the weekend.
The agreement would see a route being established between King Shaka International Airport and London’s Gatwick International, in addition to Nairobi and other African cities.
“Frankly we welcome this development, rather than see it as a fight. We need to look at the big picture and the fact is that this is a market not served,” said Mzimela.
“I am happy that someone will be able to service a market that we can’t. However, I think that it needs to be done carefully, because margins are tight in the airline industry. We all need to act wisely in terms of opening up new routes,” she added.
JSE-listed Comair, which operates kulula.com and the British Airways franchise in South Africa, is the country’s largest privately owned airline.
Mzimela said SAA was continuously “looking at new opportunities”, but that it was part of an airline alliance and worked on the “hub and spoke” strategy.
“We’ve got good connectivity to Durban; it’s just a matter of a short trip to Joburg and heading on internationally. We are placing a lot of emphasis on Africa, where the greatest growth is coming from,” she said.
SAA board chairwoman Cheryl Carolus said the airline had a “finite fleet” and there was only so much that it could do.
“We need to look at how best we can use this fleet and invest in routes that make the best business sense.
“The (Comair) agreement with KZN is actually fantastic news for the country and will ultimately be good for the industry in terms of competition – and it’s also good for the customers.
“This is a huge sign of confidence in South Africa’s aviation industry and tourism,” she said.
Last week, at the Hospitality Investment Conference Africa, KZN Tourism MEC Michael Mabuyakhulu said the province had had fruitless negotiations with SAA to re-establish a service between Durban and London.

Emirates resumes services to Abidjan

Emirates Airline on Monday confirmed that it will resume its flights to and from Abidjan in Ivory Coast on May 12 after the service was suspended amid conflict in the country.
The Dubai-based carrier also said in a statement it has reopened its Abidjan town office.
Emirates will operate daily to Abidjan via Accra, Ghana. Flights to Abidjan will be served by an Airbus A340-300 aircraft.
Emirates currently serves 19 passenger and cargo destinations across the African continent.
The resumption of flights follows Ivory Coast president Alassane Ouattara taking an oath of office last week as authorities of the Western African country try to turn the page on the months-long civil conflict that followed a contested election.
Ouattara and ousted leader Laurent Gbagbo were engaged in an armed conflict after the latter refused to relinquish his president's post following his loss in the November election.
Gbagbo was put under house arrest after he was pulled from a basement bunker at his residence on April 11.
Life is slowly returning to normal in Abidjan, Ivory Coast's commercial hub. Banks have reopened for business and cocoa export companies are girded to resume trade, though many complain about racketeering.
Officials have had to deal with sporadic uprisings in recent weeks. On Friday, the United Nations dispatched investigators to inspect the site of alleged massacres in one Abidjan district.

Cameroon Airlines Corporation, Camair-Co, will more than double its present passengers to be considered 'profitable' ..

Cameroon Airlines Corporation, Camair-Co, will more than double its present passengers to be considered 'profitable' according to international standards. "As at now, we have 30 per cent passengers and it is by far not profitable. To be a profitable airline, we need 66 per cent passengers," the General Manager of the new carrier, Alex Van Elk, made the assessment in his first monthly meeting with the press in Douala yesterday May 3.
The slow take off was said to be as a result of failures of the company in the past four years and so with its take off this year, passengers are still to get used to it for patronage. Nonetheless, there has been feedback of public excitement during flights.
"Being just five years; Camair-Co has optimum products as compared to other airline companies," the GM added. To ease access to flight tickets and boost patronage, efforts are being deployed towards putting up booking on the Internet and payment by credit cards.
"We have had three flight cancellations due to technical problems," said Van Elk. The flight disruptions resulted from technical problems at the wheels, reface indication and on the board of the engine and brake spare that was not functioning well.
Some of these necessitated complete replacement with new ones and Lufthansa Techniques played its role effectively. "These disruptions happen with all aircraft in the world. It is not just Camair-Co."
The flight cancellations cost untold expenditures as the company had to make lodging arrangements for passengers. He pointed out that flights to Paris are far from being full due to competition from other companies, like Air France that has 10 flights a week to Cameroon.
"We are replacing our regional routes with shorter ones. We will soon fly to Maroua, Garoua and Yaounde directly from these destinations because passengers have complained that the former routes were long," he told the press.
A third airplane Boeing 737-700 on lease from US-based ACG company is expected to arrive in Cameroon about the middle of next month and start flights to Libreville, Lagos, Cotonou, Dakar, Brazzaville and Bangui.
The VIP lounge at the Nsimalen Airport inYaounde has been secured also as a measure of comfort for customers. In Douala, a big passenger lounge is being built. Arrangements are being made to change flight time to Paris in response to passenger demands to connect easily with other airlines flying to other destinations.
No exclusive reservations of flights will be made for government officials, but they will have to buy tickets and board with other passengers. "If it should happen, then I leave Cameroon," warned Van Elk.
He added that the same issues contributed to the fall of the former carrier, Camair. He used the occasion to debunk media reports that linked him to drug dealing as well as misinformation that he is receiving a monthly salary of 25 million FCFA, describing them as "pertinent lies".

CAMAIR-CO Boeing 767-300ER (TJ-CAC)

Cameroon Airlines Corporation (CAMAIR-Co) is a brand new, yet old airline that just started service last month in Africa.
Camair Version 1.0 was founded in 1971 and was headquartered out of Douala, Cameroon. The airline was owned 96.43% by the Cameroon Government and 3.57% by Air France. The airline had difficulty and stopped service in 2008.
Camair Version 2.0 was founded in 2006 before version 1.0 officially went under, but never started operations. The first flight of the new Camair just occurred on March 28, 2011 from Douala to Paris. Camair currently has a fleet of one Boeing 767-300 ER (TJ-CAC) and one Boeing 737-700.
The new airline was created by a decree of the President and he hopes it becomes an inspiration to other airlines in Africa. The new airline has a much cleaner livery than the old Camair livery. Although I am a fan of the classic cheat-line look, the Euro-white body with colorful tail always looks good.

Monday, May 9, 2011

On This Day in Aviation History: May 5th

2008 – Philippine Airlines’ regional carrier PAL Express began operations with 8 daily flights between Manila and Malay with Bombardier Dash-8-400 turboprops.
2007 – Kenya Airways Flight 507, a Boeing 737-800 (5Y-KYA) scheduled to fly to Nairobi, Kenya, crashes just after takeoff from Douala, Cameroon. All 114 occupants are killed after the pilot departs without clearance and then does not realize the aircraft is banking hard to the right in time for correction due to improper auto-pilot inputs. The aircraft strikes a forested swamp a few miles to the south of the airport, where a reporter would find one year later that aircraft wreckage and human remains are still present.
2007 – Eos Airlines begins flights from London Stansted to Newark Liberty International Airport with their 48-seat, all-business class Boeing 757-200 aircraft.
2006 – Siberia Airlines renames itself to S7 Airlines and repaints its to a bright green, which is partly so the aircraft can be spotted among the tundra of Russia in the event of a crash.
2004 – Air France and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines merge, forming the creative name of Air France-KLM. The newly combined Paris-based carrier creates a combined total of flights to 225 destination worldwide.
1998 – A Peruvian Air Force Boeing 737-200 (FAP-351) operating on lease to Occidental Petroleum crashes in a thunderstorm while on a non-directional beacon (NDB) approach, killing 75 of the 88 aboard.
1993 – Jet Airways begins commercial operations with four Boeing 737-300 airliners.
1990 – A Douglas DC-6 (N84BL) operated by Aerial Transit Company crashes after takeoff from Guatemala City, Guatemala, killing all 3 on the aircraft and an additional 24 on the ground. The cargo flight, destined for Miami, develops engine trouble and strikes the ground while trying to make its way back to the airport.
1983 – Eastern Airlines Flight 855, a Lockheed L-1011 Tristar (N334EA), avoids disaster after experiencing trouble on all three of its engines on a flight from Miami to Nassau, Bahamas. In a move that would later be pivotal to their survival, the crew shuts down the #2 engine after it receives a low oil pressure warning light while descending through 15,000ft. The crew decides to return to their Miami base on the remaining two engines, which should not be a problem until the same light illuminates for engines #1 and #3, both of which soon flame out five minutes apart. Since the #2 tail engine is the only one intentionally shut down as a precaution, it still has enough oil to restart as the aircraft glides toward the ocean through 4,000ft, preparing the ditch. Miraculously, the Tristar is able to make a one-engine landing at Miami, saving the lives of all 172 people aboard. The cause is attributed to mechanics who failed to apply all the O-ring seals on the master chip detector assemblies, leading to the loss of lubrication on the engines.
1972 – Alitalia Flight 112, a flight from Rome to Palermo, Italy, crashes into Mount Longa while approaching at night. The Douglas DC-8-43 (I-DIWB “Antonio Pigafetta”) had strayed from the published approach pattern, killing all 115 onboard.
1972 – Western Airlines Flight 407 is hijacked by a 21-year-old Michael Lynn Hansen, who had sneaked on a .38 caliber pistol in a hallowed book, just after departure from Salt Lake City, Utah. Demanding to go to North Vietnam, the Boeing 737-200 first stops at its scheduled destination of Los Angeles for fuel. Hansen then changes his mind and says he’d rather go to Cuba, and a stop is made in Tampa for more gas before successfully continuing on to Havana. He would be extradited back to the United States in 1975.
1972 – Eastern Airlines Flight 175 is hijacked by a man named Richard Hahneman after departing Allentown, PA, demanding $303,000 and 6 parachutes. After receiving the ransom after landing in Washington-Dulles, Hahneman insists on flying to New Orleans for fuel before heading to Honduras, where he would successfully parachute out. He is caught by Honduran soldiers a few days later.
1968 – The twin-engine Grumman Gulfstream II becomes the first executive jet to cross the Atlantic Ocean. The 3,500-mile trip to London departs from Teterboro, New Jersey.
1965 – Iberia Flight 401 crashes on its second approach to runway 30 at Tenerife, Spain. The Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation (EC-AIN), attempting landing in weather below minimums, strikes construction equipment while initiating its second go-around. Of the 49 onboard, 30 perish.
1961 – Alan Shepard, aboard the Freedom 7 spacecraft, becomes the first American and the second human to enter space. The 15-minute flight sent him 116 miles above the Earth.
1958 – A Royal Air Force Miles Marathon T.2 (XA253) crashes after landing at Topcliffe RAF Station in the UK after the crew accidentally retracts the landing gear instead of raising the flaps.
1930 – Amy Johnson begins her 19-day journey from England to Australia in a de Havilland D.H.60 Moth, becoming the first woman to do so.

Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) Postpones Levy on Passengers

Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) has backtracked on the implementation of the Aviation Infrastructure Development Fund (AIDF) levy, an extra user charge that would have seen passengers departing from local airports paying US$10 and US$30 per person for domestic and international travel respectively.
The AIDF levy was introduced on May 1 as part of the authority's efforts to raise US$400 million to upgrade local aviation infrastructure.
Passengers are already paying US$ 35 and US$ 10 per head as a service fee for international and domestic routes respectively.
These current passenger service fees are normal operating charges for services rendered to travellers from the time they enter the airport until they get into the aircraft.
n a statement at the weekend, CAAZ chief executive officer, Mr David Chawota, advised all airlines, travel agents and the travelling public and other concerned stakeholders that the implementation of the AIDF levy had been postponed.
He said postponement was a result of unforeseen logistical and administrative challenges.
"Passengers who had been charged the levy should approach the relevant airline, travel agent or airport authority for a refund.
"Airlines and travel agents who had collected AIDEF levies should not remit the funds to CAAZ but refund the passengers," he said in the statement.
Mr Chawota said that CAAZ would inform the airlines, travel agents, the travelling public and concerned stakeholders of the new implementation date in due course.
The fund was to be used for rehabilitation and modernisation of aviation infrastructure to enhance safety and security in Zimbabwe.
The fees were included on air tickets except in special circumstances where cash payment may have been required.
CAAZ had taken the new initiative to raise US$400 million in the next 10 years to rehabilitate airports and fund airspace management facilities among others. Once the aviation infrastructure was uplifted in the project, CAAZ would be able to play its critical role in the provision of services for the country's fast growing tourism sector.
Mr Chawota said last month that the authority had to play its critical facilitation role by availing necessary accessibility into the country as the best tourism market.
The upgrading and refurbishment of infrastructure at Harare International Airport started in 2002 but stalled in 2007 because of harsh economic conditions. Other airports requiring upgrading are Victoria Falls International Airport, Kariba, Joshua Nkomo International Airport, Hwange and Buffalo Range.

Government should open up the country’s air space to allow other airlines to compete with Air Zimbabwe!

Government should open up the country’s air space to allow other airlines to compete with Air Zimbabwe and boost tourist arrivals to Zimbabwe.

Tourism and Hospitality Industry minister Walter Mzembi last week challenged government to license more private players in the airlines sector to enhance Zimbabwe’s destination accessibility.

“There is no doubt that Air Zimbabwe has let the tourism industry down. At a time when we had 45 airlines flying into Zimbabwe Air Zimbabwe was at its best competing for customers like everyone else.

“You discourage other airlines from flying into your country — nothing will move. We need to liberalise our skies. Air Zimbabwe must be a little smarter. British Airways hardly owns any aircraft and I believe this romanticism where we want to own aircraft is old-fashioned,” Mzembi said.

The Tourism minister was speaking at the launch of Zimbabwe’s new tourism brand — Zimbabwe World of Wonders — to the local market at a Bulawayo hotel.

Vice-President John Nkomo officiated.
Mzembi said Zimbabwe’s destination accessibility and connectivity was of concern to tourists as it affected their movement.

“In 1996 we had 45 international carriers servicing Zimbabwe from different international source markets. Today, we are down to less than 10 and the price of flights is too high.

“It now costs $800 to fly between Harare and Johannesburg, an amount that flies a tourist between Johannesburg and New York on a budget flight. Under normal circumstances, can such prices promote tourism and enable us to achieve the critical mass of valuables into Zimbabwe?” Mzembi asked.

The government, he said, should decentralise policymaking to ensure equal investment and equal opportunities for the people in all areas.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Government settles all ticket claims of Ghana International Airlines Limited GIAL passengers

Accra-Ghana – The government has settled all validated claims for refund of passengers and travellers who purchased tickets but could not travel on the defunct Ghana International Airlines Limited (GIAL).
A statement issued by the Ministry of Transport in Accra on Monday said the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, under the directive of President John Evans Atta Mills, had released GH¢1,306,077.89 for the settlement of the remaining validated claims.
“A directive to that effect, signed by Dr Kwabena Duffour, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, on March 18, 2011, authorised the Controller and Accountant General to release the amount to enable the Ministry of Transport to pay validated outstanding refund to Travel and Tour Operators for onward payment of the cost of ticket to the affected passengers,” the statement signed by Mr Kweku Sersah-Johnson, Public Affairs Director, said.
Since GIAL ceased operations in May last year, stranded passengers in and out of Ghana who did not benefit from Government’s initial refund packages have been demonstrating especially at the Ghana High Commission in London demanding their refund.
The statement said GH¢ 3,664,099.81 had so far been released to meet the refund of all claims validated by the Interim Management Committee set up by the Ministry of Transport to handle the exercise.
“All the claims of about 2,600 passengers have been met as well as payments by Government to other Airlines which were contracted to transport some of the stranded passengers to their various destinations in the wake of the end of the operations of the GIAL.
“With this recent release…the Ministry of transport is of the hope that all outstanding validated claims would have been covered and/or catered for and that this should bring to an end all attendant agitations,” the statement said.
Three former Ministers and a former Greater Accra Regional Chairman of New Patriotic Party (NPP) appeared in court in March last year charged with various counts for the various roles they played in the formation of GIAL and subsequent liquidation of the national carrier, Ghana Airways.
The four are Richard Anane, former Minister of Transport, Anthony Akoto Osei, former Minister of State at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Kwadwo Okyere Mpiani, former Chief of Staff and Samuel Crabbe, former Greater Accra Regional Chairman of NPP.
The four have been charged with stealing, causing financial loss to the State, fraud and deceit of public officer, regarding the roles they played in the formation of GIAL and the subsequent liquidation of Ghana Airways.
Five others were expected to appear with them but they were not present in court. They are Mr Ralf Atkins, Kirk Heaton, Albert Vitali and Brain Brisby, all Former Directors of GIAL and Professor Gyan Baffour, former Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Planning.
Anane and Crabbe, who is also President of Unger Oaks Limited, minority shareholders of the GIAL, have been additionally charged with wilfully causing financial loss to the State to the tune of $4.9 million.
Akoto Osei was also charged with six additional counts of wilfully causing financial loss to the State, fraud and deceit of public officer.
They all pleaded not guilty to the charges and were admitted to self- recognizance bail of GH¢ 300,000 each.

Zimbabwe:: Ghanaian Delegation Tours Heroes Acre

A 16-member business delegation from Accra-Ghana toured the National Heroes Acre yesterday and laid wreaths on the grave of national heroine and late First Lady Amai Sally Mugabe.
The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority invited the group consisting of investors in banking, travel and tours, civil engineering and airline services among others.
The head of delegation, Mrs Nancy Sam, paid tribute to Amai Sally Mugabe's contribution to the liberation of Zimbabwe.
"When some people deserted the nation, you stayed and the vision you saw has opened our eyes.
"We have come not only as businesspeople but sister in-laws to Zimbabwe," she said.
Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Walter Muzembi who was recently in Ghana, had the opportunity to visit the nation's shine where former president Kwame Nkrumah was buried.
"People need to understand the National Heroes shrine for them to understand empowerment," he said.
Minister Muzembi said the visit to the national shrine was a significant way of redefining tourism in the country.
He said young people should appreciate national heritage lest they forget the nations' history.
Ghana Ambassador Mr James Naadjie was also part of the delegation.
"I am impressed by the historical wealth in the country and every nation needs a place like this," he said.
"We looked all over Africa and this is the best place to invest," he said.
Mr Naadjie said the imposition of illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe by the West was not the correct way to deal with Zimbabwe's situation.
The ZTA signed a memorandum of understanding with Ghanaian business delegation.
The delegation will also visit Bulawayo to participate in the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair where it hopes to do business with Zimbabwean companies.

Zimbabwe:: Lobbies to Co-Host Tourism Conference

Zimbabwe has started lobbying other countries in the region to jointly host the 2013 UN World Tourism Organisation General Assembly in Victoria Falls alongside Livingstone in Zambia.
The conference will attract around 3 000 delegates from about 180 countries, which will help promote the country as a prime tourist destination.
Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Walter Mzembi said he was enthusiastic about getting the chance to host the conference as it brings the "two sister republics (Zimbabwe and Zambia) together" .
Zimbabwe has a seat on the UNWTO and winning the bid to host the conference will be a major coup for the country and Southern Africa as a whole.
"I like the idea of dedicating one of the roundtables to gain support for our bid to host the 2013, UNWTO General Assembly in Victoria Falls/ Livingstone," he said.
Mr Mzembi will be a keynote speaker at this year's International Institute for Peace through Tourism African Conference, which will be held in Zambia from May 15 to 20 under the theme "Meeting the challenges of climate change to tourism in Africa and the developing world".
The aim of the conference is to showcase models of best practice in mitigating and addressing the anticipated impacts of climate change to tourism in Africa and the developing world.
In 2007, the UNWTO, jointly with the United Nations Environment Programme and World Meteorological Organisation convened the second International Conference on Climate Change and Tourism in Switzerland.
The conference set out a range of specific policies and actions to be taken by all stakeholders in the tourism sector to immediately begin implementation of a long-term carbon-neutral roadmap.
This year's conference will seek to identify actual progress made since the 2007 conference with case studies of best practices from each of the developing regions of the world and from among governments, destinations and industry sectors.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

CAMAIR-CO (Cameroon Airlines Corporation ) Boeing 767-300ER (TJ-CAC)

Cameroon Airlines Corporation (CAMAIR-Co) is a brand new, yet old airline that just started service last month in Africa.
Camair Version 1.0 was founded in 1971 and was headquartered out of Douala, Cameroon. The airline was owned 96.43% by the Yaounde-Cameroon Government and 3.57% by Air France. The airline had difficulty and stopped service in 2008.
Camair Version 2.0 was founded in 2006 before version 1.0 officially went under, but never started operations. The first flight of the new Camair just occurred on March 28, 2011 from Douala to Paris. Camair currently has a fleet of one Boeing 767-300 ER (TJ-CAC) and one Boeing 737-700.
The new airline was created by a decree of the President and he hopes it becomes an inspiration to other airlines in Africa. The new airline has a much cleaner livery than the old Camair livery. Although I am a fan of the classic cheat-line look, the Euro-white body with colorful tail always looks good.