Friday, September 30, 2011

KLM and WestJet will start operating code share flights

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and WestJet operated their first code share flights on September 26, 2011. The code share agreement between the two airlines will allow KLM to market and distribute WestJet operated flights under KLM flight numbers. This will enhance the travel possibilities for our customers, giving them access to 30 domestic Canadian routes.

KLM considers code sharing with WestJet as an important step in increasing the portfolio of flights and destinations it can offer via its four Canadian gateways. 

Pieter Elbers, Chief Operating Officer for KLM, commented: “We are proud to enter into a code share agreement with WestJet, becoming WestJet’s first European code share partner. Canada is a key market for KLM. With this new code share arrangement, KLM passengers will now have access to 30 new routes in Canada, connecting with KLM’s flights to Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Calgary.”

Gregg Saretsky, WestJet’s Chief Executive Officer commented: “WestJet is very pleased to have KLM as our first European code share partner. With an extensive global network and a long history of excellence, we foresee a strong cooperation between KLM and WestJet. We look forward to welcoming our joint guests aboard WestJet.”

Ethiopia Buys New Pilot Training Aircraft

The Ethiopian Airlines bought yesterday two, new Diamond DA42 Twin Star, twin engine, propeller-driven airplanes manufactured by Diamond Aircraft Industries.
The airplanes, which will be used in training new pilots, were bought for 550,000 euro each.
In addition to the previous ten single engine pilot training aircraft, the two DA42 Twin Star planes will upgrade the performance of the trainees, Beza Tesfaye, fleet planning manager of Ethiopian, said.
The new light training aircraft are technologically more advanced than the Piper PA-34 Seneca aircraft which served the Ethiopian Airlines for over two decades.
The newly bought Diamond DA42 planes will have a great role in improving the training especially for new pilots, Captain Lemma Tekalegn, head of the Pilot Training School, said.
The new Diamond DA42 training aircraft will replace the old Piper PA-34 Seneca. The investment will enable Ethiopian upgrade the on-going training of pilots.
The pilot Training School of Ethiopian Airlines recently started a Multi Crew Pilot License Training Programme which enables pilots to fly a multi crew, multi engine and technologically advanced aircraft.
The Ethiopian Airlines Aviation Academy has been providing training programmes for pilots, aviation maintenance technicians, cabin crew and marketing and finance personnel since 1956.

KIA Inaugurates SITA Airport Passenger Facilitation Technology

Accra-Ghana: Kotoka International Airport (KIA) has joined the league of major airports worldwide using passenger facilitation technologies from SITA.
It joins airports in Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Atlanta and Toronto as well as South Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya, Burkina Faso and Guinea who are using these SITA systems. SITA is the world's leading specialist in air transport communications and information technology (IT) solutions.
It delivers and manages business solutions for airlines, airport, governments and other customers.
Speaking at the inauguration at KIA in Accra yesterday, Mr Sam Munda, Sales Director of SITA in-charge of Sub-Saharan Africa said management will provide the KIA with Common Use Terminal Equipment (CUTE), Common-Use Self Serve (CUSS) check-in kiosks, Baggage Reconciliation System and Airport Management Solutions worth 15 million dollars.
He said these technologies, which are pre-financed by SITA, will help to increase efficiency at the airport and also reduce congestion at the terminals.
The CUSS allows passengers to check themselves in before departure electronically, thus reducing congestion at the check—in desks during peak hours.
The baggage reconciliation system also tracks out-going baggage from the airport until it is loaded onto the aircraft.
“This system would solve the problem of misplaced and mishandled baggage because it ensures that the right baggage is on the right aircraft for the right person,” he added.
SITA’s suite of airport management solutions integrates with a new airport data base and Airport vision, which ensures passengers a real-time view on flight changes and a resource management system also help management of the airport to bill accurately and quickly, enhance allocation of resources (gates, check-in desks/kiosks etc) to airlines and give them an information base as well as reduce costs and create revenue for KIA.
Mr Munda said SITA will recoup its investment over a 10-year period from the airlines operating at KIA through passenger charges.
Mr Twumasi Ankrah Selby, Chief Director of Planning, Ministry of Transport, who inaugurated the equipment said the Ministry will soon present a petition to Parliament for approval to allow revenue from the Airport Passenger Service Charge (APSC) be given to GACL for the development of airport infrastructure.
Mrs Doreen Owusu-Fianko, Managing Director of GACL, expressed the hope that Parliament will allow all or a large portion of the APSC revenue for GACL.
Mrs Tosan Woode, Chairperson, Board of airline representatives and Head of Sales and Marketing, Virgin Atlantic Airways, said the airlines are pleased with the partnership with SITA to provide the technology, saying it will in addition to improving customer experience allow due diligence especially in
So far, 10 CUSS check-in kiosks have been installed and are currently being used by passengers of SKY Team airlines: Delta, Air Namibia, Ethiopian Airlines and Brussels airlines.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

ET to Fully Integrate With the Stars in a Month

The Ethiopian Airlines is going to be fully integrated into Star Alliance, the largest airline alliance, in October. The process took over a year and 6.9 million dollars which has not been paid in full yet.
The airlines had to fulfil 83 criteria, including IT compliance, to earn full membership of the alliance.
Ethiopian is the third African airline to join the Star Alliance after South African Air (SAA) and Egypt Air.
Ethiopian uses SABER booking system, which needed to be connected with the central system of the Star Alliance headquarters, and with those of the 29 member carriers.
Some of the advantages of joining Star Alliance for Ethiopian is using the alliance’s network for selling seats on the same flights, giving passengers more departure times to choose from on a given route and easier connections and transfers between flights.
Requirements of Star Alliance membership include displaying the alliance’s logo and Ethiopia has set aside a B767 for that purpose. The B767 flies to destinations in Africa, Asia and Europe where most members of the alliance are located.
Star Alliance was founded in 1997 by five of the world's leading airlines: Air Canada, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, Thai Airways International and United Airlines.  Collectively its carriers make 21,200 daily flights to 1,185 destinations in 185 countries.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Zimbabwe Tourism Industry Hit Hard By Airline Strikes ‎

The tourism sector has been hard hit by challenges facing Air Zimbabwe amid concerns that it may not register the projected 6 percent growth due to a drastic decline in tourist arrivals to key resort areas, particularly Victoria Falls.

The grounding of Air Zimbabwe planes recently, due to protracted labour disputes, has resulted in massive cancellation of bookings by tourists who had planned to visit Victoria Falls.

Victoria Falls is the country's prime tourist destination. Tourism players estimate that at least 80 percent of bookings have been cancelled so far since the Airzim pilots went on strike in July.

With no solution in sight, they said, the situation would destroy the growing positive perception about Zimbabwe's tourism among international visitors.

The tourism industry is one of the sectors expected to underpin economic revival.

The Medium Term Plan also projects that the sector would further expand by an average 7 percent in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

"Achieving the same growth that we had anticipated is now unlikely due to a sharp decline of tourist arrivals in Victoria Falls," said Zimbabwe Council for Tourism president Mr Emmanuel Fundira.

"The grounding of Air Zimbabwe planes has really affected the flow of tourists to Victoria Falls as evidenced by cancellation of bookings."

While using chartered flights or flying via South Africa are some of the alternative ways of travelling to Victoria Falls, these options are expensive.

A chartered flight on small planes which can carry up to 12 passengers costs between US$4 000 and US$8 000 from Harare to Victoria Falls while commercial planes charge up to US$600 per passenger via Johannesburg. Travelling by road is not an option for most tourists as it is time consuming. It would require two travelling days.

"One of the valuable commodities (of tourists) is time and without easy access to our destinations this will affect inflows of tourists.

"We have a lot of tourists who are flying from Harare or Bulawayo to Victoria Falls via South Africa and this is very expensive," said Mr Herbert Nkala, a tourism consultant who also runs a travel agency.

An official with Rainbow Tourism Group said the grounding of Air Zimbabwe planes had dented the growing confidence in the sector. The official said the group, which operates a hotel and two lodges in Victoria Falls, had been affected by limited air access to the destination.

"We have certainly been affected and it is very unlikely that we will record brisk business as we would have wanted, especially during the forthcoming festive season. The situation is not good for the whole industry," said the official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Shearwater Adventures public relations manager Mr Clement Mkwasi said the Victoria Falls was loosing its prime market share to Zambia due to the absence of Air Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe shares Victoria Falls with its northern neighbour.

"The absence of Air Zimbabwe is hitting us and this is affecting all tourism related businesses such as taxi operators and hotels," said Mr Mkwasi, whose company is involved it helicopter flights and hotels in the resort town.

He added that considering that September is a tourism month, Zimbabwe was supposed to deliver "maximum efficiency."

In his mid-term fiscal policy statement Finance Minister Tendai Biti who indicated that the tourism sector had registered growth during the first half of the year, bemoaned the challenges facing the national airline saying they were having a negative effect on the sector's growth.

"Tourism performance could have been enhanced during the first half of 2011 had it not been for the challenges facing the national airline which constrained tourists mobility in the country.

"This is moreso, given delays in the implementation of the "Open Skies" policy, which allows operation of other airlines," he said.

Zimbabwe recorded a decline in arrivals between 2000 and 2008 due to safety concerns and an unstable political environment. But the country has been registering growth since the formation of the coalition Government of the three main political parties.

According to reports, Air Zimbabwe is losing about US$8 million every month to foreign airlines, particularly South African Airways and Kenyan Airways which are servicing most routes previously done by Air Zim.

Negotiations to end the pilots' strike are failing to bear fruit, as the embattled airline cannot raise money to settle the outstanding salaries and allowances.

Air Zimbabwe Flights resumes

HARARE, Zimbabwe— The head of Zimbabwe’s state airline says pilots have ended their third strike in 10 months but that service has yet to resume because no one has booked a flight.Air Zimbabwe chief executive Innocent Mavhunga said Friday the airline resolved its salary dispute with pilots after it got a bailout from the transport ministry. He refused to disclose the amount. The strike lasted six weeks.
But he said that no flightswere likely to resume Friday because the sudden end of the strike was not widely known.The heavily indebted airline’s 49 pilots have been on strike three times in the past 10 months, demanding more than $9 million in unpaid salaries and allowances.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Airline strike hits Zimbabwe hard

The national carrier has not been flying since the end of July due to a protracted wage strike by pilots.
The drop in tourist arrivals would affect the southern African country's chances of achieving a projected six percent growth this year.
In July, tourism authorities reported a 16 percent increase in tourist arrivals for the first quarter of 2011.
Zimbabwe Council for Tourism president Emmanuel Fundira said there has been a marked decline of tourists visiting the prime resort town of Victoria Falls.
Victoria Falls, which is the southern African country’s drawcard for foreign tourists is losing its prime market share to Zambia due to the absence of Air Zimbabwe.
A limited number of tourists determined to view the Falls are resorting to using chartered flights or flying via South Africa but these options are expensive.
Tourists on small chartered flights with a capacity of 12 passengers fork out between US$4 000 and US$8 000 from Harare to Victoria Falls while commercial planes charge up to US$600 per passenger via Johannesburg.
Travelling by road is not an option for most tourists as it is time consuming. It would require two travelling days.
Hotels in Victoria Falls also been hit hard with low occupancy rates.
In his mid-term fiscal policy statement Finance Minister Tendai Biti who indicated that the tourism sector had registered growth during the first half of the year, bemoaned the challenges facing the national airline saying they were having a negative effect on the sector's growth.
With Air Zimbabwe grounded, it is losing close to US$8 million per month to foreign airlines, particularly South African Airways and Kenyan Airways which are servicing the routes.
Meanwhile, striking Air Zimbabwe pilots risk having their flying licenses revoked if they continue with their industrial action.
An aviation expert said pilots were subjected to regular tests to ensure that they were still capable of performing their duties.
He said in most instances pilots’ licences are valid for six months after which they have to undergo tests.
If, however, a pilot has not flown for about 90 days, they will undergo a simulator test. 

“At the moment that equipment is not available in Zimbabwe.
”Pilots operating long-haul planes will have to go to Ethiopia for testing while operators of small aircraft go to South Africa,” the expert said.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Comair deals with baggage pilfering as problem gets ‘out of control’

Comair, which manages British Airways and in South Africa, says it is tackling the scourge of baggage theft head-on. This comes after SAA said baggage theft at OR Tambo International Airport was out of control, with more than a dozen bags being stolen every day.

Gidon Novick, the joint chief executive of Comair, said efforts to deal with baggage pilfering was yielding results. “Less than one per 5 000 bags carried on Comair flights is being pilfered,” Novick told IOL. This works out to .2 per 1 000 bags, which is less than the international average of .3 bags per 1 000.

Last month South African Airways (SAA) CEO Siza Mzimela said that “baggage theft remains very high and OR Tambo International is out of control”. She added that pilfering at South Africa’s other airports was also “very high”. SAA’s acting head of group corporate affairs, Dileseng Koetle, said that pilfering at OR Tambo was .6 bags per 1 000.

"How can we promote SA as a tourist destination if their first experience of the country is the loss of their luggage?" asked Greg Krumbock of the Democratic Alliance.

According to a report released by SITA several years ago, 98% of the 2.25 billion items of luggage checked in at the world’s airports arrive at the right time at the right place. But the remaining percentile still amounts to 42 million bags, passenger frustration and US$3.8 billion in fines.

The Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA) said it had been working hard to solve the problem, which has been on the decline over the past few years. ACSA head of communications Solomon Makgale, said there had been “a consistent improvement” in the situation for the past five years and the average number of bags pilfered at OR Tambo had dropped from 36 a day to 14 a day. Since January last year, 18 people at OR Tambo have had their access cards blacklisted after being caught pilfering luggage.

Makgale said that baggage theft happens in three main areas – within the baggage sorting system, on the way to the aircraft, and in the hold of the aircraft. Consequently, “ACSA has installed CCTV cameras which enable us to catch the criminals in the act,” in the sorting area. He recommended that airlines install CCTV cameras in the holds of their aircraft.

Novick said Comair had improved the baggage pilfering situation by physically monitoring baggage whilst it was at the airport and getting baggage handlers to wear thick gloves so they cannot feel the contents of the luggage. “If an irregularity is found, baggage handlers’…restroom and lockers are searched both at the departure and arrival airports,” Novick said. “Staff face disciplinary action and polygraph testing if warranted.”

“We will continue to take this zero tolerance approach with all loopholes tightly closed until pilfering is eradicated,” Novick told IOL.

Other airlines are also taking steps to mitigate the problem. British Airways said its team at OR Tambo has seen a decline in baggage damage and pilfering and that security guards were present when bags were being loaded and unloaded.

Mango spokesperson Hein Kaiser told IOL that “presently pilferage averages between 0.2% and 0.6% dependent on the time of year,” adding that “Mango continues to work with all role players including ACSA, the SA Police Service, our shareholder SAA, and other airlines among others toward a remedy.”

Monday, September 5, 2011

Pakistan beat Zimbabwe by 7 wickets

BULAWAYO (Zimbabwe): Pakistan beat Zimbabweby seven wickets at Queens Sports Club on Monday, getting the winning runs with seven wickets in hand a few minutes before lunch on day five.Scorecard
They were left needing 88 runs for victory after bundling the home team out for 141 runs in their second innings, although they did lose three wickets in the process.
Having been put into bat by Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq, Zimbabwe reached 412 all out in their first innings before the tourists replied with 466 all out to establish a first-innings lead of 54.
There was not much in it at that stage but Zimbabwe's second effort collapsed to 135-8 at the close of the fourth day, leaving the Pakistanis with the prospect of a routine mop-up operation.
Misbah-ul-Haq said afterwards: "Maybe I was mistaken asking Zimbabwe to bat first. The wicket had green patches. But the bowlers stuck to the task well.
"Our batting to follow was excellent, of good quality. I am proud of the youngsters, especially Aizaz Cheema, who took eight wickets in the match.
"Zimbabwe are a good side and they will improve with experience and become a strong force in the game I'm sure."
Man of the match was Pakistan's Mohammad Hafeez, who scored 119 and took four wickets for 31.
With one more wicket he would have recorded a 'viper' in cricket terms -- a century plus five wickets in an innings -- but he did not get a bowl in the final session.
Zimbabwe's opening innings score of 412 looked likely to secure at least a draw, which was their prime target in terms of their need to gain respectability in top cricket circles after being readmitted to Tests after a gap of six years.
And if they had not dropped seven Pakistan wickets in their first innings, plus a fumbled run-out opportunity, the tourists' response might have been much lower than 466.
The Zimbabweans' batsmen were exposed by both Pakistan seam and spin in the second innings.
The wicket had deteriorated and they showed inexperience in dealing with it. Five wickets were lost before they even got past the 54-run deficit.
Only Tatenda Taibu and Kyle Jarvis stood between a single figure total and the 141 runs they eventually managed to scrape together.
They put on 66 for the ninth wicket during the late afternoon of the fourth day -- not quite a face-saving effort, more a reprimand to their colleagues.
However, the Zimbabwe innings lasted only 15 balls on Monday morning, Taibu and last man Christopher Mpofu falling to Cheema.
Pakistan lost Hafeez, Taufeeq Umar and Azhar Ali in reaching the winning line, but concentration levels required could not have been of the highest.
The first of three one-day internationals will be played on Thursday, followed by the other two in the series and two Twenty20 matches to round out the Pakistan tour in Harare.