Monday, 23 April 2012

Heathrow Immigration,- What's REALLY going on?

Suddenly over the past few weeks inbound immigration queues (The UK unusually in the world has no outbound imigration checks) at London's Heathrow, and Terminal 5 in particular, have gone from generally reasonable for the volumes of traffic into a country with immigration problems, to unacceptable. Queues once well contained within the large hall now run to and even beyond its extremeties. This is hardly the welcome people,including its own nationals, should expect in a country so high in the world's economies.

What's gone wrong and what's really going on?

Consider this scenario. The root causes are very simple.

The major factor is an inevitable and utterly predicatable pincer movement between the UK Borders Agency cutting back on staff as part of the UK's overall austerity measures on the one hand and the stiffening of pasport checks on the other. Throw in unspoken hostility to the spending cuts by both management and unions, each for its own reasons and and there's more of the picture. add to that almost contempt for a the way Brodie Clark, the former head of the UK Border Agency was forced out of office when relaxations of checks last year were discovered to have let a few undesirables in and there is a toxic politician-led mix.

Taking the Mr Clark's departure first, there were obvious risks in allowing staff to relax checks for most passengers so that the inbound flow worked well and staff had more time to use their well hned skill and intuition in identifying and weeding out those the UK did not welcome. The upside though was an increased rejection rate and staff feeling empowered to get on with the job and use their experience positively.It was too good to last though.

Inevitably the baying media will from time to time discover that a few who should have been kept out slipped through. That will happen with any system. 100% success and border integrity will never happen in a democratic non police state and politicians just have to stand firm and say so and make no apologies.

That unfortunately is not how politicians work almost anywhere in the world.

Faced with hysteria in the press, instead of correctly telling them their fortune and supporting both the policy and the Border Agency management and staff who have the near impossible daily task of minimising mishaps, Theresa May at a flick of a switch went into auto-politician mode, ducked the flak, and left the unfortunate Mr Brodie to take it. As result he is now spending more time with his family.

Next came the kneejerk stiffening of entry requirements. Nobody was to be cheerily waved through. Everyone from small children to returning supervised school parties and war veterans back from trips to Normandy had to be checked against the list of terrorists and other undesirables. Even with all the staff goodwill in the world that would have meant more staff or much slower throughput rates. The former was unacceptable under the sledgehammer type approach that every department must take its share of the pain equally and that there can be no distinction between the good, the bad and the ugly spenders. The UK, like any country, needs to welcome 99% of its visitors and returning nationals. With a small minority of exceptions they contribute to the economy and are good for everyone.

In this sad saga ,the management and staff goodwill factor was already absent when further manpower reductions took place through the winter. There was a feeling that before long the chickens would come to roost without any need to talk about active industrial action. All people had to do was to stand with arms folded and wait. The " We told you so " day would surely come. And so it has. The continued exits of often long serving skilled staff with good noses for who's who and who's up to what amongst the lines before their desks have now converged with the seasonal increases in passenger numbers and the inevitable has happened and will continue happening until the crescendo of horror stories from the waiting queues and their unacceptability as the Royal Jubilee and the Olympics become terminal for the Home Secretry or even her superiors. Followers of UK politics will know that the Government needs something to be going right just now and this certainly isn't.

Minster Theresa May is therefore reaping the results of her own lack of courage last autumn, a lesson politicians everywhere need to learn although few actually do. She has played into the hands of the unions (the last thing she or the Government would ever have wanted) and got herself into a hole from which only two things,- and maybe both,-can extract her. She can either bring back selective checking ideally based on random but unpredictable staff intuition . Alternatively she can quickly ramp up staff numbers again while trying to avoid a return to old inefficient inefficient working practics. The likelihood is that, faced with Olympic Rage, she will have to do both and then have to go back to start sorting it all out again from a worse position than the one she started with as she has lost the confidence of all the people who could be helping her get it right.

The industry meanwhile is saying just one thing: "Do something". Politicians often find that difficult. Most aren't used to jobs involving hands-on "Doing something" and accepting real accountability for it.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Former BA shareholders wonder where their profits went.

Those of ICAG's shareholders who hold their paper by virtue of having had it swapped for the BA equivalent on takeover day must be wondering whether they might not have been better off if the the consolidation of the BA and Iberia, and now BMi brands into Spanish registered ICAG had never happened. If so they can only blame themselves. The "merger" went unchallenged at the two precedeing BA AGM's. The floor's focus was on cabin crew gripes about terms and conditions being threatened by wicked Willie, staff travel and other laments. The "merger" barely featured and was never challenged.

Now they must view the overall ICAG 2011 performance with some disquiet and thoughts about about what might have been if BA had carried on alone with a new determination to reassert its former worldwide international market dominance.

ICAG more than doubled the previous year's BA and Iberia pre tax operating profits to Euros 542 million. That's good. To achieve this the BA brand made an operating profit of Euros 592 million while Iberia contributed a loss of Euros 61 million. Iberia continues to be a high cost carrier with a lot of built in problems with restrictive labour agreements and the problems of Spanish labour laws which makes slimming down very expensive. For the ex BA shareholders that's not good.

2012 doesn't look any less cloudy. Iberia's pilots are protesting about the arrival of the brand's new low cost domestic and short haul operator via twice weekly strikes on Mondays and Fridays. These stretch through to the end of July and will knock a hole in the second and third quarter brand and ICAG corporate results. There will be some clawback by moving bookings forwards or backwards a day and thereby achieving very high load factors. There will also be savings from aircraft simply not being in the air on those days. Neither of these will cover the downside loss of customer confidence,loyalty and revenue.

BMi being rolled into the conglomerate and the BA brand isn't going to help ICAG's short term results either. It brings a unique and very valuable portfolio of Heathrow slots with it but to keep them they have to be operated. That means that for some time to come the bulk of the unprofitable (£100-130 million a year)largely short haul BMi network has to continue as is. Some corporate Head Office overheads will be stripped out through large scale redundancies but that itself won't close the gap. To make its case for being allowed to proceed with the takeover, ICAG has majored on the opportunities to enhance Heathrow's position vis-a-vis rival hubs by opening more services to high growth areas, notably Asia and South America (wasn't that meant to be Iberia's speciality from Madrid?). The truth though is that BA has not got the spare long haul aircraft to do that. There is also the question of its real taste for the east. As we have noted previously, spooked by the 1997/8 Asian downturn and despite the post 2000 boom, BA has withdrawn from Osaka, Fukuoka, Seoul, Taipei, Manila, Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta and reduced its frequencies to Bangkok and, recently, to Hong Kong. It has shown little enthusiasm for the east with its high business travel volumes and yields to some cities but patchy demand and low yields to others. It has felt more comfortable and familiar with the North Atlantic which is easier to understand and operate. Also BA has added very few long haul aircraft to its fleet in the past ten years. The much trumpeted arrival of 6 777-300ERs in the last twelve months is hardly world dominating stuff and is around the equivalent three months added capacity for Emirates. BA can revive a few 747-400s and retain some more of these and some 767-300ERs which were due to be retired when the first A380s and 787s begin to dribble into the fleet in 2012. That though is a while away yet, even if they do bite the bullet and really go for long haul expansion in the east from then on. In the meantime ICAG is likely to continue losing money on what was the BMi operation and the BA brand is going to have carry on funding its two less healthy sisters.

Those former BA shareholders look like continuing to wring their hands and shake their heads for a while yet.

Meanwhile on a lighter note BA plans to introduce a 1948 theme to some of its menus. One wonders if any of these sitting around whatever conference table came up with this stroke of inspiration have any idea about the state of British cuisine in 1948. It was a year of extreme post WW2 greyness and austerity. People queued up for ration books for food and clothing. Small amounts of corned beef, spam, an egg or two were highlights of the weekly menu. Maybe this idea is a cover for new cost cutting in the catering department? Will those at the front receive reasonable, but not generous, portions of these items, those in the middle rather smaller ones of much the same and those at the back just be handed two ration coupons, one for a single bag of nuts and the other for a liquid cross between tea and coffee?

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

African Roundup :February-March 2012

As always, there has been a lot of activity during the past 2 months …………

Two significant items from the financial pages have been the launch of the long awaited Kenya Airways rights issue to raise USD250m on 30th March and SAA going cap in hand to their Government seeking up to USD777m. The two are very different. The former is part of an aggressive expansion plan, the latter is more about long-term survival.

Kenya Airways cites further delays to completion of the long-awaited refurbishment and expansion of Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta Airport as the major risk to its growth plans. Progress appears slow and the short term result far less exciting and comprehensive than appeared in the brochures handed out at World Travel Mart in London three years ago. At present the narrow and unattractive airside corridor lined with unimaginative cramped shops all selling the same things and the lack of a proper comfortable area with good rest and catering facilities for transfer passengers to while away a few hours make it an airport to avoid. It is not attractive and undermines Kenya Airways’ massive investment in developing an effective interconnecting network .The airline’s fleet is projected to triple in size to 107 aircraft by 2021.

Ethiopian Airlines planned growth mirrors the scale of Kenya Airways. By 2025 the fleet will almost triple to 121 aircraft but the investment objectives are wider and the airline is keeping ahead of the game. New hangar space and expansion to training facilities are already being built.

Trends in fleet composition are becoming apparent. Gone are the days of automatic 130 seat Boeing 737 acquisitions in the region. Kenya Airways anticipates a fleet dominated in 2021 by 32 Boeing 787s and 31 E190s. Rwandair has ordered 2 new CRJ900NGs plus 2 on option. In Africa is the 100 seat jet aircraft set to become the new default option?

Whilst foreign carriers steadily increase their spread and frequency of operations across the continent, the past two months have seen some withdrawals. Malaysia Airlines is to cease Cape Town services and Iberia, Johannesburg though in neither case is the effect on overall route offerings from these places significant. Kuala Lumpur was never a major destination in its own right and Singapore Airlines’ services to its near neighbour more than offset its loss. Madrid is well enough served from South Africa via a number of indirect routings and was never in itself a great producer of incremental traffic. Having served Entebbe for a few weeks, Gulf Air is to pull out once more but again Emirates and Qatar Airways daily services into the country easily cover any gaps. All three of the downsizing carriers are ‘re-assessing’ networks as economic pressures back home intensify. Gulf Air’s proposed Juba service has also been put on hold.

Recent start-up ASky of Togo is experiencing its first headwinds. Well supported by Ethiopian Airlines as 40% shareholder and management team, the Chairman has commented on the difficulties of securing route and frequency expansions with neighbouring countries. The ‘African Open Skies’ envisaged in the Yamoussoukro Decision, born 40 years ago, remain elusive. The local market nationalistically also sees Asky as ‘an extension of Ethiopian’, less as a national carrier. As is too often the case on the continent ,being part of a successful wider African entity seems to hold no local attraction. Hopefully this is not the first chink in a breakdown of the cross border relationship but there are many precedents. SAA and Air Tanzania in East Africa and Royal Air Maroc and Air Senegal in the west, are two recent examples. The process is definately not new though. Going much further back to the late 1950s and 60s ,we saw the demise of East African, West African and Central African , all of which might have now been substantial ,strong and significant businesses if they had survived. In all cases, local national pride played a substantial part.

Past difficulties between SN Brussels and DRC parties appear to have been put aside and Lubumbashi-based Korongo Airlines is to launch in April with SN as 70% shareholder in the new joint-venture with a small fleet of BAe146 and B737 leased from SN.

And there have been failures .....As in our last African roundup ,having defied financial and other gravities for so long, Air Zimbabwe has been disbanded by the shareholder, the Government. On paper a phoenix company has been formed but there is no clarity on future operations.(See more below)

After a bright start three years ago, Zambia’s Zambezi Airlines has ceased operations and low cost Velvet Sky of South Africa survived for only a few months. The culprit was as ever undercapitalisation at the start and the cash simply ran out.


African Express Airways (Kenya) plans the extension of its MD82 Nairobi–Mogadishu– Berbera route to Abu Dhabi from 19 May 2012. (Mar2012)

Air Tanzania. A Government inquiry has been launched into 2007 USD200m lease of single A320. The company now plans to add a Q300 and a B737 during next 6 months for network growth or , more accurately , just to stay in business. An alternative the Government could consider though is to refuse further investment and leave PrecisionAir and any other independents to provide Tanzania’s air services at no cost to the nation. (Feb 2012)

Air Uganda / Rwandair have dropped their Entebbe–Kigali codeshare and both carriers are pursuing independent route frequency increases (Feb2012)

Ethiopian Airlines plans significant growth up to 2025. Staff will be up 300% to 16,899, fleet size from current 45 to 112, and destinations from 79 to 121. The staff number growth looks worrying and out of line with fleet or network increases. Perhaps someone got the numbers wrong? (Mar2012)

Juba Air (South Sudan) is arranging US$40m funding to begin operations mid-2012 with a single B727. Good thing they’ve struck oil. 727s like it. On the face of it this doesn’t look like a good start. (Mar2012)

Kenya Airways issued a profit warning for March 2012 year-end. Earnings are estimated to be ‘at least’ 25% lower than 2011 year-end. Mid-east turmoil, Euro crisis and rising fuel prices are blamed. No mention of current reports of poor cabin service or Nairobi airport being overstretched and unappealing.(See above)(Feb 2012)

Kenya Airways launched a joint KQ/KLM B747F cargo operation with Martinair aircraft. 2 services a week Amsterdam-Guangzhou-Nairobi-Lagos-Nairobi-Amsterdam. Kenya Airways plans a fleet of 12 freighters within 10yrs. (Feb 2012)

Kenya Airways has followed Ethiopian Airlines in suspending Malawi Kwacha sales due to acute foreign exchange shortages in Malawi inhibiting hard currency remittances. There is no point of earning money that can’t be used. Lilongwe–Nairobi frequencies have also been cut due to a general fall in Malawi air travel demand, partly caused by the country being at loggerheads with at least one major aid donor. If, following the death of President Bingu Wa Mutharika on 6th April, the country mends some of its international bridges, business could improve again.(Feb 2012)

Kenya Airways from May 2012 will start four weekly B763 services between Nairobi and Delhi. (Mar 2012)

Precision Air , 49% owned by Kenya Airways, has increased its Dar es Salaam –Nairobi frequencies to five daily. Kenya Airways itself has reduced its own services to twice daily but the combined product gives the route what it- and numerous others in Africa,- need most. Frequency rather than sheer capacity. This greatly facilitates and stimulates high yield business traffic both locally and within the imemdiate region. Dar es Salaam is increasingly well served by the Gulf carriers and the fast growing Turkish. (March 2012)

Precision Air is taking delivery of a leased B733 for resumption of flights to Johannesburg. It is also to begin serving Moroni (Comoros) thrice weekly from June 2012 and the Dar–es salaam/Lilongwe/Harare/Dar es salaam triangle thereby adding journey opportunities on the intermediate sectors as well. An ATR is to to based at Bukoba for lakeside Kigoma and Musoma operations. For the first time since the 1970s demise of East African , Tanzania domestic and local cross border links are rising above those of more than 30 years ago. It is a very encouraging development. (Mar2012)

Rwandair is selling two CRJ200s to be replaced with 2 new CRJ900NextGen in late 2012,the first of the type in Africa and despite its much higher ownership costs, potentially much more profitable due so its higher capacity/revenue earning capability. (Mar 2012)


1Time of South Africa is launching twice weekly Johannesburg—Mombasa services to add to its Zanzibar and Livingstone international network. All are aimed at the low yield South African tour market,-both groups and individuals. It is also starting twice daily MD83 services from Johannesburg (Lanseria) on the fiercely competitive and frequency rich Capetown and Durban routes. One question is whether Lanseria really can wean enough customers off their habitual familiarity with Johannesburg’s main airport (O.R. Tambo)and whether twice daily can hack it in the face of virtual shuttles by SAA and BA/Comair/Kulula (Feb 2012)
1time CEO Rodney James stepped down along with Executive Director Michael Kaminski. No reasons were given for this, not even “wishing to spend more time with their families” or “to seek new opportunities” (Mar 2012)

Air Cemac(Congo Brazaville)’s multi-year delayed start-up, co-owned by Cameroon, Central Africa Republic, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, and Gabon, has ended its accord with SAA due to ‘deep differences of opinion’. It is seeking new strategic partner ‘within one month’. No candidates come immediately to mind.(Feb 2012)

Air Congo (Democratic Republic of Congo) born out of Hewa Bora, has received a MD82 and has pledged to ‘destroy’ 5 elderly and even less fuel efficient B727s (Mar2012).

Air Malawi Government has said that the B735 is be sold to fund the return to service of the venerable owned B733 ”Kwacha”. Both aircraft have been held since 2008 at SAA Johannesburg due unpaid maintenance bills. Short of aircraft, the airline has reintroduced Lilongwe- Nairobi services with a leased CRJ100. Although served by Ethiopian, Kenya Airways and SAA, landlocked Malawi itself still lacks direct long haul services and would do well to try to attract the attention of one of the Middle East hub carriers to give it better access to worldwide destinations for both passenger and freight traffic. (Feb 2012)

Air Mauritius is to draw in its horns and reduce costs by cancelling services to Milan, Sydney and Melbourne in June 2012 and to Geneva, Frankfurt, Durban, Bangalore and Munich in October 2012 due to “network restructuring” . Presumably the government is saying it can not go on funding losses at the present rate. As part of reorganising its route and capacity portfolio the airline is to boost Johannesburg to twice daily but will withdraw from Durban and Capetown. This makes sense as selling beach holidays to people who already have their own was never as lucrative as it was to the Johannesburg and other inland South African city dwellers.(March 2012)

Air Namibia has ordered two new A319s to join its 2 leased A319s,2 A340-300 and 3 Embraer ERJ135s (Feb 2012)

Air Namibia is launching 4 weekly Windhoek-Harare and 3 weekly Windhoek-Gaberone services with ERJ135 aircraft in May. Next up will be Livingstone services starting in October 2012. With the demise of Air Zimbabwe, Harare is seeing something of a revival courtesy of foreign carriers, something predicted and recommended by Airnthere several months ago. Not having a national carrier to protect can do wonders for a country’s overall air service coverage options-at no cost to the government. (Mar2012)

Air Seychelles is to receive USD11.2m from the Seychelles Government in the first quarter of2012 plus USD10m from July 2012 in accordance with the agreement which also saw Etihad acquiring a 40% holding for USD20m. (Feb 2012). Also as part of the Etihad deal Air Seychelles is launching B763 services linking Seychelles and Abu Dhabi. There are also plans to introduce 2 weekly A332s to Beijing from early 2013. The Chinese labour market in Africa will be the main target. The Chinese do not have a large taste for beach holidays and generally prefer places with substantial shopping opportunities,-often to buy designer labelled items actually manufactured in their home country. (Mar 2012).

Air Zimbabwe. As mentioned above, the company, at least in its previous form, is no more although it’s unlikely that we have seen the end of it. A final straw was a strike by the pilots and USD35m pay is said to be outstanding to all staff. Operations were finally suspended “indefinately “on 20 Feb. The Acting CEO( there’s a hospital pass of a job) blamed cash problems. Clearly he is not given to exaggeration. The company was then disbanded by the Zimbabwe Government and a new state company Air Zimbabwe Private Ltd was formed. The government retains Air Zimbabwe assets and liabilites but their enthusaism for its liabilities is less than clear. A strategic investor is to be sought but as at the same time the government is saying that foreign companies operating in the country must be 51% Zimbabwe owned this won’t be easy especially as the rights of former staff and creditors in the event of such an apparent transfer of undertakings could be contentious.(Mar2012)

Blue Sky of Botswana awaits ‘last documents’ from the country’s Civil Aviation Authority to start operagtions. Meanwhile a B737 in Blue Sky livery is parked at Gaborone and a second B737 identified. The company claims to have a “competitive” rather than low cost business model (Feb2012)

BA franchise ,Comair has secured US Ex-Im financing via Rand Merchant Bank for 4 new B737-800s. (Feb 2012) .Meanwhile in a joint venture with EADS, the company has opened a pilot and maintenance staff training centre for ATR aircraft in Johannesburg. Simulators are included. 85 ATR’s now fly with 32 airlines in 20 African states so it should have a good market if its pricing and quality are right. (Mar2012

SAA is seeking USD 518-777m recapitalization from its shareholder, the South African government for operational costs, fleet renewal and funding business growth, says CFO Wolf Meyer. It has also secured guarantee from a private bank for USD45m to cover ‘air service license responsibilities’. Short term plans include additional long-haul aircraft which will raise the fleet total from 24 to 31 over 5 years (Feb 2012)

Sol Air (Zimbabwe) is new carrier and was granted AOC on 28Jan2012. Moving into ground vacated at least temporarily by Air Zimbabwe it plans domestic and regional routes starting with single B1900D ,later adding CRJ700 and ATR72 aircraft . The launch of services was aimed March 2012. The MD is Nkosilathi Sibanda (Feb 2012)

SonAir of Angola, owned by the nation's national oil company the Sonangol Group, has provided a 747 charter for the British Prime Minister, David Cameron and his entourage of business people to Japan,Indonesia and Malaysia in April. The airline itself has been on the EU's list of banned carriers since 2008 but its 747 operation is contracted out to the US FAA regulated company Atlas Air, the UK arm of which operates BA's London Stansted based freighter network. (April 2012)

TAAG planning to replace to replace three B732s. These veteran stalwarts, cheap to own but heavy on maintainence and fuel, are now fast disappearing from their last strongholds in Africa. (Feb 2012)

TAAG will launch B777-300ER services between Luanda and Dubai from 25 March 2012 (Mar 2012).

Velvet Sky of South Africa .BP has initiated a court liquidation action over a breach of USD4m fuel debt repayments agreement. It also faces cash difficulties with SAA Technical. The already crowded Johannesburg- Durban-Capetown-Johannesburg routes have been suspended but may be resumed in April 2012. (Mar 2012)

Zambezi Airlines’ fleet of 3 leased B737-500 has been re-possessed by GECAS duto to USD2m fees unpaid. The airline has in any case been grounded by the Zambian Government since Nov 2011 over ‘safety concerns’. (Feb 2012)


Air Cote d’Ivoire: Air France's CEO has re-commited to an April 2012 launch with 2 leased A319s .Air France/KLM (also a substantial investor in Kenya Airways)is to hold 35% jointly with AKFED. Ivory Coast's Government will hold 51%, local investors 14% as “Defensive move against increasing foreign operator presence,–Turkish, SN Brussels, Emirates”. While Air France must have serious and understandable concerns about the diversion of business away from its Paris hub, the horse though may have very willingly bolted and not all Ivoirians are happy at what they see as French involvement/intervention in the country’s business.(Feb 2012)

Air Taraba (Nigeria),the official airline of Taraba State, has received its first aircraft an ERJ145 (Mar 2012)

Arik Air has suspended daily B738 services between Lagos and Johannesburg. There has been official Nigerian indignation over South African Port Health refusal of entry to 50 Arik passengers on 2 Mar due to alleged fake yellow fever certificates. In reality the issue runs deeper and includes serious South African concerns about illegal Nigerian immigration which is causing disquiet at home. The airline is also to cancel daily operations from Abuja to Heathrow in April 2012 due to difficulties in obtaining Heathrow slots. This issue has been a bone of contention between numerous governments and the UK for many years. Air Services Agreements provide for free and equal access to each others’ markets and to most countries this means access to Heathrow to put their carriers on the same competitive footing as BA and Virgin. The UK contends that no particular London airport is guaranteed and it has no control over Heathrow slot allocations. Technically they are correct but the strong feeling this arouses is there and has been since at least the 1970s. Arik’s move is likely to be calculated to up the ante and so far it has been successful as the UK carriers have been threatened with retaliation. Maybe a spell of BA and Virgin being directed to Lagos(Pt Harcourt) will help resolve the issue. (March 2012)

ASKY of Togo is to receive 3 new Q400NextGen. 40% shareholder ET has placed the order, presumably to get the best deal and obtain aircraft identical with their own which makes good sense from the engineering aspect. (Feb 2012)

Fastjet, the proposed Stelios/Fly540/(new)Lonrho all-jet,low-cost carrier plans its West African base to in Accra and to start with 5 aircraft growing to 15 within 2 years.(Feb 2012)

Starbow Airlines of Ghana has leased a further 2 BAe146 for delivery in May 2012 to launch regional schedules from Accra to Abidjan, Ouagadougou, Cotonou and Monrovia. If Fastjet does come into being it could find the Ghanian as well as the East African skies a little more crowded than appears at first sight.(Feb 2012)

TACV (Cape Verde) anticipates privatization by the end of 2012 (Feb 2012)

TACV (Cape Verde) is to add 2 B738s in May/June 2012. A B767 is planned to replace the B752 on Boston services at end 2012. (Feb 2012)

Syphax Airlines (Tunisia)is a Sfax-based start-up planned for Mar2012 with 2 leased A319 currently undergoing C checks and repainting at CSA Technics. (Feb 2012)

Tunisair Express is adding 2 weekly CRJ900s flying Tunis-Sfax-Misrata to its current thrice weekly Tunis-Sfax-Tripoli programme. (Feb 2012)


Austrian Airlines to resume flights from Vienna to Tripoli on 25 March 2012. (Feb2012)

Emirates has signed a A330 line maintenance contract with Direct Maintenance (Netherlands)a newcomer at Lusaka certified by both EASA and the UAE CAA. (Feb 2012).

Emirates has increased its Dubai-Tunis frequency to daily and A330-200s are replaced by an A340-500 (Feb 2012)

Etihad joins the Lagos fray in July 2012 by launching six times a week A330-200s between Abu Dhabi and Lagos. The target market, as ever, will be largely Nigerian traders shuttling between their Lagos outlets and Middle and Far East suppliers.(Feb 2012)

KLM has postponed the restart of B737-700 Tripoli services until 01 May 2012. (Mar 2012)

Lufthansa is also resuming Tripoli services as is Qatar Airways. (Feb 2012)

Qatar Airways is extending its daily Entebbe flights to Kigali from 21 March. It will have local Entebbe/Kigale rights thus strengthening this city pair which will now have 54 flights a week each way including a double daily by Ethiopian.(Feb 2012)

Royal Jordanian has postponed planned Amma-Lagos-Accra services until June 2012. (Feb 2012). It will also start E195 operations between Amman and Misrata, Libya. (Feb 2012)

Saudi Arabian Airlines on 17th February suspended Tunis services (Feb 2012)

Singapore Airlines Cargo has launched a B747F service from Singapore to Nairobi and Lagos as part of circular Singapore/Gulf/Africa/India/Singapore routing. This is SQ's first appearance in sub Saharan Africa north of the Limpopo. (Feb 2012)


AFRAA hosted an “Aviation Suppliers and Stakeholders Convention” in Nairobi 7-9 Mar.(Feb 2012)

Ghana is to seek USD741m investment for development of 5 national airports.(Feb 2012)

Ghana CAA Director General has warned that international airlines will face ‘tough measures’ if they fail to charge ‘moderate fares’ and to provide ‘quality service’ (Mar12)

Nairobi JKIA Airport expansion project progress remains very slow (see above). It seems that some of the financing for the complete project is yet to be secured despite its importance and urgency to the national economy. Just half or quarter doing it would be disastrous. It feels as if we have been here before. (Feb 2012)

Nigeria,-The Director General of the Nigerian CAA has called for investment from government and the private sector in new airport technology and facilities New maintenance hangars, ground handling, training and simulators specifically mentioned. Bearing in mind Nigeria’s enormous oil revenues and its potential both as a business destination and regional hub it’s lack of user friendly world class airport with good surface transport links is one of the continent’s tragedies.(Feb 2012)

South Africa: South African airport operator ACSA plus two Brazilian partners have won a 20 year concession to manage Guarulhos, Sao Paulo’s international gateway, with a USD9bn bid plus USD2.5bn capital investment. (Mar 2012)

Tanzania The European Investment Bank is to provide €50m over 20years to upgrade and expand the domestic airports at Kigoma, Bukoba, Tabora, Shinyanga and Sumbawanga. That’s an average of 10 million per airport for each of the 5 essential low volume low frequency airports. It looks expensive.(Feb 2012)

John Williams
6 April 2012