Wednesday, 24 December 2014

African Roundup- October November 2014

African Roundup     October – November 2014                    

There was a time when South African Airways was all powerful in its southern African domains and could seemingly do no wrong. From the late 1940s it was a dominant player on routes to Europe, usually flew superior equipment compared with its competitors ( DC 4s against Yorks and flying boats, DC7Bs against Constellations, Boeing  707s v Comet 4s). It expanded its reach to the USA and Far East and even in the days of sanctions its levels or service and reliability and the relative ease of use of its Johannesburg hub enabled it to dominate central and southern Africa. Its management was conservative but hard headed and expansionist. Its fleet acquisition policies sound and relatively risk averse. The company tended to stick with what it, its crews, engineers and ground staff knew and what worked and did it very well. Its engineering was world class. All a bit boring maybe but its customers didn’t mind that and many made the detour via Johannesburg just to fly with them.

Then came the new world, both in South African politics and management fashions. Expensive outsiders, with no past baggage or long term interests arrived to ring the changes. In came shoals of Airbuses, including the A340, and out went the Boeings on which several generations of expertise had been built up. The deals looked good but carried immense new learning curves and the associated costs of those. Politically the new South Africa brought the challenge of achieving essential and immense changes in the work force, something requiring time, wisdom and commitment.

At the same time the new South Africa, free of trade sanctions, meant unprecedented waves of new and shiny competition. SAA’s two competitors in Africa, Ethiopian and Kenya Airways have grown out of all recognition and Kenya in particular reinvented itself if a little precariously. They offer much of the continent a plethora of intra-African and intercontinental high frequency connections without time consuming back tracking. Next, to add to the pain, just at the moment when SAA must have thought the brave new world belonged to them, along came the new generation Gulf airlines and now Turkish. With them came the redefinition of networks, hubs and every aspect of customer service and care. Even the American and European legacy carriers look on with open mouths as today’s benchmarks suddenly become last year’s model. Just when you thought you were getting somewhere….

Against this tsunami-like background it is no surprise that SAA repeatedly seems fated to a life of difficulty and turmoil. This is partly the result of its poor geographical position being glaringly exposed and partly due to a plethora of self inflicted woes.

Of the first, being stuck in a cul-de-sac at the very bottom of Africa would always be a problem for an aspiring hub carrier. Inevitably SAA’s network lies very largely to the north plus a bit out along the arms to Australasia, Asia and the Americas. Historically the airline’s reach for connecting long haul traffic has been limited to a 2 hour arc embracing Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and (just) Angola with a lot it it driven by a preference for transiting Johannesburg airport rather than Nairobi in particular. Kenya’s ability to lose transfer baggage and the attitude of some of its officials, including security operatives on the lookout for money were much talked about. Now with the Johannesburg passenger and baggage experience deteriorating , Addis and Nairobi improving and the glitzy Gulf airports being another world entirely ,Ethiopian, Kenya Airways, the Gulf carriers and Turkish make a back haul via Johannesburg just unattractive.
 Of  SAA’s self inflicted wounds, the long-running Board turmoil is a fine example. The net result is a carrier with ever deepening debts and its auditors declaring it “not a going concern” . In short  it’s bankrupt.  The declared operating loss for 2012-3 is US$92million. The 20-year Transition Plan, including a request for US$600milion support, presented to Government in April last year has made no visible progress, to the growing frustration of sole shareholder, the Government, in particular new Public Enterprises Minister, Lynne Brown.

Last month 6 members of the SAA Board were replaced en-masse. A few days later the Chairman suspended the CEO who remains ‘on leave of absence’ despite the Public Enterprise Minister directing his re-instatement.  Nico Bezuidenhout, CEO of SAA subsidiary Mango, has now been appointed interim CEO returning to the role he filled last year following the ousting of a previous CEO.  In that first appointment he presented the 20-year Transition Plan to Government with the memorable quote that each of the previous 9 such plans was triggered because 60% of recommendations of its predecessors were never implemented.

Bezuidenhout has moved quickly with the presentation of a draft 90-day recovery plan focusing on a reduction of loss-making routes (all long-haul services are loss-making) and a re-negotiation of aircraft leases, in particular the A340-600s. US$118million annual saving is mentioned.  Fleet renewal with possible A350 and B787 types is a pressing need.  Meanwhile Government has yet to offer cash and other guarantees to enable the business simply to continue trading.  Assuming this is eventually forthcoming the target for the Board and CEO in tandem is to better the historic 60% implementation failure rate. To quote Bezuidenhout “It is challenging”.

Historically the continent’s airlines had a single business model, – That of a national carrier owned by a Government.  Most eventually folded, the pace usually being linked to the degree of Government meddling in commercial decisions and appointments and the rate at which losses were accumulated. Local private operators did spring up but cash difficulties relentlessly  took their toll. Today’s picture has echoes of the past, eg, limping Air Tanzania, but new models are evolving, eg low cost carriers, with Fastjet potentially being the biggest game-changer. The  big gap to be filled is that left by a failed national carrier such as Air Afrique, Nigeria Airways, Ghana Airways and Zambia Airways. The initial hue and cry is always for them to be replaced like for like (and disastrously with the same people and their cohorts, hangers on and the rest who brought them to their knees in the first place). Fortunately the market eventually makes the decision and somebody puts the black cap on. Air Afrique with its 11 individual Government shareholders could never be replaced. Eleven governments agreeing and keeping their hands off decision-making? No chance. Nigeria Airways has the look-alike privately owned Arik but has been denied ‘national airline’ status by Government. Despite some aspirations and even attempts, Ghana and Zambia are without replacements although small privately owned domestic carriers have evolved.  Of most interest, the Zambian Government has granted 5th Freedom rights to both African and foreign operators to get all the regional connectivity it can at no cost to itself.  Six carriers now operate between Lusaka and Harare. The Ugandan Government has so far followed the same path following the demise last month of Air Uganda by granting regional rights to Ethiopian Airlines and to Fastjet thereby giving Entebbe 4 new regional routes. Governments who fear isolation without a ‘national carrier’ should sleep more easily.


Air Uganda As previously reported, the Board has decided to disband the company citing “irreparable damage to the company’s image” caused by the prolonged UCAA delay in renewing its controversially cancelled AOC plus the granting of 5th freedom Entebbe-Juba rights to regional competitors Ethiopian and Rwandair.

Eritrean Airlines is wet-leasing an A320-200 to add to its single B767-300.

Ethiopian Airlines continues its expansion with plans to open a route to Los Angeles via Dublin in mid-2015.  Useful 5th freedom rights between Dublin and Los Angeles are included. This builds further on its Toronto and Washington routes.

 Receiving AFRAA’s Airline of the Year award CEO Tewolde Gebremariam , long time advocate of Africa making the best possible use of its own home grown resources, when receiving AFRAA’s Airline of the Year award urged member carriers to recognise and use skills and services available on the continent, notably in engineering and training, and pressed governments to urgently to free-up reciprocal route rights and frequencies for regional carriers. 

Meanwhile the carrier may be linked with the proposed new South Sudan (niche) carrier.

Fastjet Following an interview with CEO Ed Winter, CCO Richard Bodin and CFO Nick Caine, we will cover this always interesting carrier in a separate post. Suffice it to say they are undaunted by the scale of their task and determined to stay the course.

Interstate Airways (S Sudan) has wet-leased 2 CRJ100 for Juba based operations.

Jambojet (Kenya) Kenya Airways LCC subsidiary plans the replacement of its 3 strong B737-300 fleet with B737-700s, presumably also from its parent, Kenya Airways. There are no signs yet to expand beyond the April 2013 start-up network of Nairobi-Kisumu, Eldoret and Mombasa. This seems to indicate that conceptually it has for the moment at least hit the same buffers as its predecessor, Flamingo, constrained by the parent and an uncertainty about exactly what it is meant to do at least until any competing low cost carrier, notably Fastjet, challenges it in Kenyan cross-border markets.

Kenya Airways. CEO Titus Naikuni retired after 11 years on 31st October. He has had a good innings. He inherited the airline in fundamentally good shape. It had successfully navigated the September 11th global downturn, ordered the 777-200s, was about to open up to the Far East, modernised its branding, realistically replaced its regional F class with J class, converted its B 767 J seats to flat beds and embarked on an outward looking programme. His personal presence, well used political and business network and charisma were welcome additions to the role and the profits achieved since privatisation continued.

His successor, Mbuvi Ngunze faces a tougher proposition. Not quite a hospital pass but more a nudge towards the first aid tent maybe, this is certainly not an easy moment to take over after eighteen months as COO .The West African routes are affected by the ebola outbreak, Kenyan beach tourism in particular has been hit by images of insecurity along the coast, the terminal fire destroyed the Nairobi arrivals area and disrupted the hub operation and the Westgate shopping mall shootings frightened many away from the country. Black ink has turned to red. The upsides for him though include the replacement of the mixed bag of 767-300s by new 787-8s with 6 delivered and 3 more to come (time to firm up on a few more?),and  the opening of the airline’s dedicated departure and transfers terminal at Nairobi. Maybe there will be some downturn- driven realism from its unions too?

Network-wise , Delhi has been dropped. As we have mentioned before,- a 7 hour sector in a narrowbody 737-800 may just not be saleable to a market which has other choices.

Precision Air remains determined to solve its own problems. One measure on offer is US$40m in exchange for an equity stake. It is also considering the sale and leaseback of 5 ATRs which could raise up to US$80m.
Rwandair has ordered an additional Q400 and another Boeing 737-800NG added Mwanza on Lake Tanganyika, Tanzania, to its network with a thrice weekly Q400 frequency.
SAX Tanzania .This projected low cost carrier is anticipating an end of year start-up with a single Q400.  The majority shareholder is said to be Don Smith of Fly540 Kenya.

Air Congo (Rep of Congo) is to benefit (?) from an order placed by Government for 3 new Comac ARJ21s to add to its existing fleet of MA60s. So far as we know this aircraft is new to Africa which means that manufacturer support is likely to be needed for some time.

Air Zimbabwe has reached an agreement with SAA Technics for the release of its 2 A320s so enabling them to return to service.
Congo Airways (DRC) In April Govt announced the creation of new national carrier to replace insolvent LAC, Lignes Aeriennes Congolaises, due for liquidation. An unspecified ‘technical partner’ is to be a shareholder alongside Govt and local citizens. Air France Consulting has now presented a business plan. (Zimbabwe) Regulatory problems with CAA Zimbabwe caused the first flight to be delayed from of 23 July until to 3rd November. They plan to operate thrice weekly between Victoria Falls and Johannesburg with a B737-500 and then start domestic flights from Harare to Bulawayo and Victoria Falls by the end of this year. (Namibia), allied to the above, is aiming to startup in March 2015, first linking Windhoek and Johannesburg in joint venture with Nomad Aviation of Namibia. Flyafrica Ltd, is a Mauritius-based private equity aviation investment group whose aims may not be dissimilar to Fastjet’s.

FlySafair (S Africa) Having met regulatory ownership restructuring requirements this low cost carrier launched B737-400 services from Cape Town to Johannesburg on 16th October and quickly expanded its network to include Port Elizabeth and George .
Kulula (S Africa) This lively low cost subsidiary of Comair has agreed a codeshare arrangement with Air France. A similar agreement was signed with Kenya Airways earlier this year. There is no indication of what Comair’s franchisor,BA, thinks of these arrangements.

LAC (DRC) This company is now believed to be non-operational and in the process of liquidation  by its sole shareholder, DRC Govt, which has back from maintenance the sole aircraft, a B737-200.  Air France Consulting has presented a business plan for a new national carrier, Congo Airways.

Malawian Airlines launched twice weekly Lilongwe – Beira Q400 services on 12th November. This adds to current Mozambique flights to Tete and Nampula.
Mango SAA’s Low Cost subsidiary is claiming a 2013-14 profit  of US$3.6mn based on a 42% revenue growth.  It anticipates receiving 2 additional B737-800s from SAA and some domestic route growth.  Fleet renewal is slated to start in 2021.
SAA Further to our headline item here are some further details of goings on in and around the airline. First up, Public Enterprise Minister Lynne Brown created an ‘interim board’ removing 6 members and appointing 2 new ones.  Chairperson Ms Duduzile Myeni continues in her role. The future of CEO Monwabisi Kalawe is uncertain. Minister Brown has endorsed the 2013 ‘Turnround Strategy’ but is frustrated with the lack of progress due to limited capital and board in-fighting.
 Meanwhile the Board Chairwoman Dudu Myeni suspended CEO Monwabisi Kalawe and then refused to reinstate him as instructed by Public Enterprises Minister, Lynne Brown. The SAA Board and ‘the shareholder’ then appointed Nico Bezuidenhout as interim CEO. Brown subsequently agreed that ‘due process’ will be followed around Kalawe’s continued suspension. She also directed the airline to appoint turnaround specialists to return the company to profitability restating that Government has no money for bail-outs. Cost effective turnaround specialists with a robust proven track record are thin on the ground. In any case they are seldom a real substitute for a management up to its tasks.
 To round it all off, Interim CEO Nico Bezuidenhout has presented a 90-day Recovery Plan focused on withdrawal from loss-making routes and re-negotiation of A340-600 leases. US$118m potential annual saving is mentioned. “It is a challenge”, he said. Do we hear a sigh? 
Finally, the airline has 2 unused frequencies under the Nigeria Air Services Agreement and talks of using them to launch Abuja as a new destination.
Seychelles Airlines proposed, private, B767 carrier has withdrawn its AOC application pending legal clarification on its use of the word ‘Seychelles’.
TAAG (Angola) Government has signed a 10yr Management Concession Agreement for Emirates to run TAAG. Emirates will have 4 seats on the 9 man Board, including the CEO, but no equity holding. Hopefully the Emirates team will be given a free hand to redesign and run the airline. 


Air Côte d’Ivoire lifted ebola-related suspensions and re-started flights to Conakry, Freetown and Monrovia from 26th October. Meanwhile the carrier has received two new Q400s. It has options for 2 more.
 CEO Rene Decurey has stated that “Airbus will renew and expand our fleet” starting in 2015 and building up to 10 aircraft by 2017
Air Taraba (Nigeria) has applied for an AOC . They are not alone. 16 other aspirant new carriers have also made applications.

Ceiba (Eq Guinea) has recovered its B777-200LR which was impounded at Madrid in a legal dispute between an unpaid UK road construction company and the Equatorial Guinea government.

Cronos Airlines (Eq Guinea) is awaiting the delivery of an E135. The company operates domestic services between Malabo and Bata and regionally to Cotonou, Douala and Port Harcourt.

Gambia Bird has indefinitely delayed the re-start of its Gatwick-Freetown route due to the ebola outbreak. Flights between Gatwick, Banjul and Dakar continue.

Niger Airlines (Niger) has received a wet-leased B737-200 from Iraq. It has also a wet-leased F50 from Palestine.  The company operates between Niamey and Ouagadougou, Bamako and Dakar.

Senegal Airlines has taken delivery of a Q400 on a 12 month wet lease to add to its single leased CRJ100. The company also wet-leases a A330-200 short term for Hajj operations.

Starbow (Ghana) was temporarily grounded by the Ghana CAA following an HS146 emergency landing. The operating certificate of the remaining 2 HS146 was withdrawn pending airworthiness checks subsequently completed satisfactorily. Nevertheless these 3 aircraft have been put up for sale.

TACV (Cape Verde) has completed the sale and lease-back of two ATR72s. The Government aims to privatise it in 2015.


Air Algerie The Minister of Transport has announced route expansion plans to including Nigeria, South Africa, Ethiopia, Chad and Djibouti by 2017. 3 more A330-200s are now on order.  The current fleet totals 44 including 6 A330-200s and 22 B737s, mainly -800s. 

Afriqiyah/Libyan Airlines reports indicate that 13 of their 19 aircraft caught at Tripoli Airport during the July militia fighting will not fly again. That total includes the 3 Afriqiyah A330s. Two new Libyan Airlines A330s remain at Toulouse pending delivery. The Afriqiyah order for 2 new A330s is live. Tripoli terminal is all but destroyed and commercial flights have ceased.
Royal Air Maroc is to launch B787 services to Paris and New York in January/February 2015. 4 B787-8s on order and new routes to Nairobi and Dar es Salaam are being planned.

 The airline intends to renew its fleet and expand from 47 to 105 aircraft by 2025.  An A380 might replace the single B747.  B737Max and A320neos are likely to vie for narrow-body orders with SSJ100 and Emb190s contesting the 100 seat orders. Initial RFPs are expected in 2015. For now the airline has taken delivery of the first of 4 leased EMB190s

Syphax (Tunisia) The current fleet, 2 A319s and a single A330, is to grow to 15 aircraft by 2018 including a second A330 in 2015 plus incremental A320s. New York services are planned for 2015 alongside the existing ones to Montreal .Abidjan, Libreville and Lagos head perceived West African opportunities. 


Air France reinforced its almost unchallengeable superiority on the Paris-Abijan route by replacing B777s with A380 on three of its seven times weekly flights.

Alitalia is hinting at withdrawing its three weekly Lagos/Accra services in mid-2015.

Emirates. Over the next 10 yrs CEO Tim Clark says that the company plans to add 10 new African routes to its existing 22 and to increase frequencies.
Currently the airline is tussling with the South African Department of Transport over its new 4th daily Johannesburg flight.  The Air Service Agreement allows for the addition but the Department has objected. In the meantime Dar es Salaam frequencies have increased from daily to 12 per week.
Hainan Airlines (China) is seeking to launch Nairobi services in 2015. Hainan is also a joint venture partner in Africa World Airlines of Ghana

Korean Air is suspending its Seoul-Nairobi services for six months from month suspension of  from December 2014 to June 2015.

Qatar Airways launched its A320 Doha- Djibouti route on 27th Oct. Asmara is to follow.

TAP The Sierra Leone ebola outbreak has forced a delay to the launch of its thrice weekly flights to Guinea-Bissau.
Turkish Airlines has re-launched its route from Istanbul to Misrata, Libya but cancelled its November start to Luanda. Once again Angola’s extremely difficult and protectionist authorities have made life difficult. A further ten African destinations are however planned within the next year.
British Airways is reducing its daily 777 frequency between London and Nairobi to six a week. It is not clear whether this is a temporary measure in response to a perceived insecurity-driven downturn in the market or whether it is likely to be permanent. Kenya Airways’ response to the market conditions by downsizing from a B777-200 to a 787 looks the better strategic option. The business market in particular does not like blank days.

AFRAA says its Joint Fuel Buying Agreement has saved members US$3m over the past 3 years.

Ghana CAA is considering limiting aircraft age for its airlines following an emergency landing by a Starbow 25yr old HS146.  Nigeria does this at 18 years.

Guinea Bissau’s government has announced its intention to create a new national carrier to resume and stabilize the route to Lisbon.

Kenya’s Mombasa Airport is to be upgraded with a new runway and terminal building. Unlike most current major Kenyan infrastructure projects this is to be done with 85% French funding and 15% World Bank. The financing have been signed. The very optimistic timescale for completion is given as 2 years.

Malawi Blantyre’s Chileka Airport terminal upgrade has ground to a halt awaiting Government payment for work so far completed. The major funding is Chinese major. The 2013 Presidential announcement of a new airport to be built slips to being an aspiration and certainly current traffic levels, and even those achieved before Lilongwe’s “new” airport opened in 1977 do not warrant it.

Malawi’s Govt has yet to find buyers for the ex-Air Malawi ATR42 and 737-300, both 23 yrs old. The newer 737-500 is also stored.

Nigeria will start privatization of federal airports “soon” says the DG, Bureau of Public Enterprises.  The stated aim is to “boost efficiency”.

Uganda’s government has again mentioned re-launching failed Uganda Airlines. This one just bubbles and bubbles. Substantial government funding would be required and unless it were created lean and mean with a minimum level of staff and no wasted expenditure it is unlikely to be more successful than its predecessor.

Regarding traffic rights, the aeronautical authorities are looking to increase 5th freedom rights for a number of foreign carriers to replace the network of Air Uganda which ceased flying in June.

Plus …

From the archives …… 50 years ago, on 18 December 1964, Ghana Airways took delivery of the first of an intended three improved Standard VC10s, the first overseas sales success for the type. With a flight crew of 4 including a navigator and flight engineer, initially one and for 22 months a second served the Accra-London route. This second , delivered in June 1965 was leased to MEA from April 1967 and, along with most of the airline’s fleet, was blown up at Beirut Airport by Israeli forces on 28th December 1968. The third was never delivered and instead diverted to British United Airways. Government-owned Ghana Airways was born out of West African Airways following independence, but rising debts and inefficiencies loomed large once the airline was infected by President Nkrumah’s grandiose and profligate plans pushed it beyond its original appropriate and manageable fleet of 2 long haul Bristol Britannias backed by 2 Viscounts plus DC3s and Herons on domestic and regional services. 8 turboprop Il-18s acquired at Government behest from new friend Russia had little to do other than fly a low demand route to Moscow whose main purpose was to rotate the aircraft through there for maintainance. The company never shook off the resultant accumulated debt. The last straw was when the unwise 2004 operation of an AOC-expired DC10 into the USA resulted in a ban from US airspace and the loss of a block of almost guaranteed revenue.  There was no way back.  The airline was liquidated in June 2005.

John Williams
30 November 2014

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

UK Air Traffic Control Nonsense.

Last Friday, UK's Swanwick centre ,which covers southern England ,experienced a relatively short computer failure.

Fallback procedures were immediately implimented and worked perfectly. Flow rates were restricted and departures from the London area ,particularly Heathrow, were held back. At all times safety was paramount and nobody was in any danger. The position of each and every aircraft was on the screens as normal.  A glitch had occurred and was dealt with a high degree of professionalism, calmness and efficiency and efficiently by people on the ground and in the air. Once the system was back up and running the backlogs were progressed and by the end of the day there was a near normal programme. Even BA ,which tends to reply to disruptions with extensive domestic and short haul cancellations stuck more to "Fly the Plan" than we have seen in recent years. Inevitably for those whose flights were delayed or cancelled it had been a frustrating and in some cases difficult day. Information is always a customer relations problem but usually, apart from explaining the cause, there isn't much to say until a flight has a definite new time or is cancelled. Shouting matches with gate staff or crews on aircraft are entirely unproductive for all concerned. The fact was that the sky had not fallen in, everyone was safe and would be got on their way as soon as possible.

On Saturday morning everything was entirely normal. Any cancellations were mainly due to aircraft and crews being out of position.

One might think that, the causal defect apart, it would have been an occasion for a round of applause. The professionals, controllers, pilots, cabin crews, operations people and others had taken it all in their stride and delivered. Surely a good story?

Unfortunately the media and politicians were on the case from entirely different angles.

"Unacceptable" said Transport Secretary Patrick McLouglin. Why did he say anything at all other than the fact is that those closest to it solved the problems on the day (what could a politician do other than get in the way?)  and he had every confidence that they would now investigate what went wrong and leave it at that. The media were ready with their "Chaos" banner headlines and stories of celebrity chefs texting BA to "get a grip" and things like that. The usual "Heads must roll" theme formed the background and of course calls for independent enquiries.

In a non politicised world the summary would be simply "It happened", "It was dealt with very well" and "Yes, it could happen again but next time the cause will probably be different" and "The people who can and do fix it were on top of it throughout". That lacks the required sensationalism, shock/horror element, celebrity or political angles though.

The one silver lining for the airlines was that it has been ruled that they are not responsible for any compensation for late or cancelled flights on this occasion. Things have at least moved on from the infamous Icelandic volcanic ash saga where totally unjustifiably they had to shell out huge amounts for governmental "No fly" decisions.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

What goes round........

Sometimes there's just nothing new in the sky. You may think there is and then it turns out that it's been done before.

KLM has announced that Amsterdam airport is to have a Junior Jet lounge for young passengers travelling alone. This comes as part of a package labelled Bluey. Amongst other things this also offers those up to the age of 12 a smart "crew" badge, a bag of goodies and special meals to order.

BA's predecessor BOAC first dreamed up the Junior Jet tag in 1956/7 with its Junior Jet Club which was launched an impressive and highly prized winged metal badge. Additionally there was an equally impressive and prized hard covered certificate-earning log book to be signed by the Captain. In fact the log book became so powerful in forcing parential choice of airline that in reality and unintentionally it became in a small way the world's first frequent flyer programme. In due course modernisers morphed the Junior Jet Club into a much more populist but less effective Skyfliers Club,the badge became plastic and over time the whole thing lost its allure.It was even advertised on the back of cereal packets. How exclusive and status building is that?

Now nearly 60 years later KLM ,taking over the Junior Jet title, might be about to re-invent a very (low) cost effective sales device. If they develop it further and get it right they may find it a much more powerful weapon than they had imagined. The light blues should raise a glass to the old foe, the dark blues across the North Sea.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Of Hubs , Narrowbodies and the dangers of being outflanked.

On first sight Kenya Airways termination of its 4 x weekly Nairobi-Delhi B737-800 service does not look significant news.One low demand, low frequency route. Nothing notable surely?

But there is. In fact three things .

First is whether, despite losses caused mainly by concerns about security in Kenya and especially on the coast, which is the destination of most tourists for all or at least part of their holidays and by the cutbacks to and reduced loads on West African services, taking spokes out of a hub network is the right recipe.

Second is the question of just how far will people with any kind of a choice fly on a narrowbody?

A hubbing network may initially be born almost accidentally. People use connections because they are there and usually because there is no direct point to point flight on the same day,- or at all. This can happen even if the airline has only two destinations, simplistically one north and one south. Then if it adds an east and a west it finds it has more passengers on each leg as numbers, albeit initially small ones, flow from each sector to another building a bedrock of revenue which is not affected by events in or the economy of the home base. Add more spokes and the synergy increases until eventually it drives the airline.This spreading of the sources of business frees it from some of the ups and downs of its home base and enables it to become a much bigger airline than the base country would support on its own. Historically KLM was the first airline to espouse this as a policy, something BA and its predecessors did by accident rather than design via the sheer weight of destinations and frequencies which developed out of Heathrow. Emirates, when it originally started with a single leased A300 and B727, was point to point but quickly grew out of that to be, along with its new Gulf colleagues, one of the world's greatest hubbers. Success in the game depends on adding destinations and frequencies as quickly as possible, outrunning both the less nimble competitors and the red ink. Each spoke adds a handful or more passengers to a selection of the others. Turning the clock back and dropping them risks the whole ball unravelling. In Kenya Airways' case getting rid of the Delhi service saves money here and now but it also deprives other spokes of revenue  and so reduces their profitability. That's not fatal and as a one off may be the best thing to do but if further spokes are removed, especially at a time when the home base is down on appeal, the process could have very serious unintended consequences.

The narrow body question may or may not be part of the problem on this sector but it is worth consideration. At the end of the 707/DC8/VC10 era it was considered that narrowbodies were dead for anything much more than a 4 hour trip. Indeed when the A300 first appeared there were fears that on the shorthaul routes it flew any competing narrowbody had little chance. As time went on that turned out not to be the case especially where narrowbodies enabled higher frequencies. As result SAS did not keep their A300s long and as a type they didn't dominate ever Europe. On longer hauls however the story was different and once a wide body appeared the narrowbodies were pretty much dead. Hence the development of smaller widebodies, first the 3 engined DC10 and Lockheed Tristar then the first of the big twins, the  A300/310 and the B767.

Since then there have been some slow inroads by narrowbodies pushing their way back into shorter long haul business. First came 757s used by inclusive tour operators. They have been accepted as a way to get the lowest possible seat prices and flights out of local airports but with Thompsons and others now introducing 787s their days on those trips are probably numbered. Then came their use by the major carriers on UK and Europe hub-avoiding sectors trom secondary airports to the eastern USA and Caribbean. If flying Bristol or Birmingham direct to New York in a 757 was the price to pay for not fighting ones way to and through Heathrow then that was OK. Run a 787 or other wide body against it though and it's game over for the narrowbody.

One wonders if Africa may not also be tiring of long distance narrowbodies too. It's true that trans continental multi stopping 737s can provide links which would otherwise be absent but once each point can stand on its own feet the demand for nonstops to the hub is difficult to resist and it's a question of how long a narrowbody can hold out before a Gulf carrier puts in a widebody whose economics are also helped along by its much greater cargo capacity.We have touched on it before but one can see the attraction of finance people of the lower purchase and operating costs of a stretched 737-800 compared with the 787-8 which does not offer that many more seats.  Putting aside,-and one shouldn't,- that additional cargo potential of the widebody, the first sight lower risk attraction of the narrowbody is obvious. Who though would choose to fly on one if there is someone else offering a widebody alternative,- and there is from a large number of African countries to the Gulf and a plethora of points beyond? That's even before other factors such as flying via glitzy, easy/a pleasure to use airports rather than Addis or Nairobi come into it. It looks as if for some at least, transiting one of these may be preferable to 7 or so hours nonstop in what is essentially a short haul aircraft.

This brings us onto the third point. Essential to a hub's successs is it not being outflanked by:

 a)Being overwhelmed by the network and/or frequencies of a neighbour.


b)Being out- positioned geographically (ie flown over, around, behind, in front of) as has happened to Europe for much of the world east and south by the Gulf hubs who in turn for some destinations have been jumped by Turkish. The Asian carriers have suffered similarly to the Middle East and Europe as the Gulf operators offer a vastly greater number of destinations, In Europe the vast majority of these bypass the national capitals and avoid the much disliked ternational to domestic connections.


c) The vital home hub airport losing out in sheer attractiveness or ease of use to others in comparative attractiveness or ease of use. For example even Heathrow can claw back some domestic business currently flowing out of the UK provinces over Europe, Turkey or the Gulf if the transfers were made easy, hassle-free, seamless ,and reliable.

Or any combination of all three or any two of these.

It looks as if Nairobi based Kenya Airways may be suffering from elements of such outflanking to add to the first two questions, It's not a problem exclusive to them or to Kenya. It's how an airline handles the whole constantly shifting hub game that matters. That's what makes the Delhi announcement possibly significant and interesting way beyond that first impression.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Things change,- BOAC's 1959 Winter Schedules

The tables in BOACs Advance Winter Schedules, a preview of their monthly editions, unsurprisingly all start in London.

There is a single exception,- the headline first one which shows the prime services between London, Manchester, Glasgow and Shannon to New York, San Francisco and then on across the Pacific to Honolulu, Tokyo and Hong Kong. 

This table starts in Teheran, then seen as an important source of business despite its low, twice weekly, frequency. Next call? Tel Aviv,- and with well used traffic rights between the two. The link continued through the 707 and into the early 747 era but ceased with the Iranian revolution in 1979.

The trans-Pacific route was axed in due to high costs and poor average loads. A significant reason for those was that BOAC persisted with full fare IATA fares and no relaxation of conditions or excess baggage allowances long after its competitors had started to circumvented them. It was also faced with a double or quits decision. It could either invest in lifting its frequencies to daily to match Pan Am, Northwest, and JAL or abandon the route. It chose the latter option and cut its eastern route from London short at Tokyo rather than continue from there across the ocean.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

All night Tubes for London,- The Unions are under the moon.

A lot of exciting, innovative things are happening on Britain's railways. Electrification schemes, line and track reinstatements and doubling, station renovations and a little way in the future, HS2.

One might have thought that the unions would be totally on board , delighted at the job opportunities offered and the immense benefits for the customers.

Think again.

Talking about the planned introduction of 24 hours a day operation on some core London Tube lines starting next year, Rail magazine quotes two union leading lights pronouncing:

 "Whilst the RMT is not against night running of the Tube in principle...."
 "ASLEF is not opposed to extra services but..."

As ever most of the "buts" are centred  around  the traditional Union barricades of protecting and avoiding changes to existing jobs even if they have become or could become redundant. Hence the ongoing battle against driverless underground trains even though automated ones are already running on some Tube lines albeit with drivers still sitting in the cab. Entirely driverless trains have operated entirely safely on London's highly successful Docklands Light Railway for several years.

 Negative attitudes have to be an enormous and debilitating drag both on managements trying to make things happen and on staff and potential new staff who want to embrace the new opportunities with enthusiasm and make them work. This is true in any industry and the dire effects of negativism are well apparent in many including shipyards, the old docks and historic car manufacturing. Transport industries are all about making things happen and delivering service. Traditional legacy unions seldom, if ever, are.

Happily though it looks as if there will be all night Tubes in London and eventually the automated trains will even run as they are designed to.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

African Roundup August September 2014

Two sides of the African coin are display from new style Fastjet on the one hand and the  more traditional but still lean Precision Air of Tanzania on the other. Neither is having an easy time.

Fastjet is a brand new, so far foreign created and managed startup which aims to bring Easyjet style low cost air travel to millions spread across Africa. The idea is a series of airlines based in a number of countries, each with a national interest, operating point to point but networks broadly based but adapted from the European model. Most of its processes and ways of going about things are new to the continent. 

Fastjet breaks the mould of legacy national carriers, privatized or not. Ignoring the different case of South Africa, the big two, Ethiopian and Kenya Airways are neighbours on the eastern side of the continent. Both have fast growing networks and progressive, expansionist strategies. Their structures, cultures, and ways of doing things though make them look like legacy type carriers. In Kenya’s case they also have old fashioned legacy unions. 

If Fastjet works, gets the bases and frequencies it needs and keeps its costs, numbers and structures to a minimum it is an exciting project. Among other things it is already best in Africa for frequent quick and open reporting of its results. If it doesn’t overcome the obstacles in its path and eventually fades away, the fear is that it may in the meantime bring down a number of smaller but very valuable operators without whom the host countries would have serious holes in their transport infrastructures. That’s the sort of thing that existing carriers from behind their barricades tend remind their governments in efforts to keep them frightened.

Enter Tanzania’s 49% Kenya Airways owned Precision Air. Dar es Salaam based, it has steadily built up not only domestic trunk services in a country short on effective rail and road links (The Serengeti National Park stands right in the only realistic path for a main road between the coast and Lake Tanganyika), but a host of lesser but socially useful routes. Tanzania now has a better domestic air network than at any time since the demise of East African Airways in 1977. From the national point of view all this is at risk if Fastjet’s low baseline fares and A 320s cream off Precision Air’s revenue on the domestic trunks to an extent where the now mainly turboprop carrier can not continue the lower frequency, higher cost ATR services elsewhere around the country. The nightmare scenario would be if both carriers were to throw in the towel. There would be an enormous gap. Tanzania,-and Africa,-need both models.

Precision is managing its way through a difficult period. Profitable for more than 10 years, it suffered a US$18m loss in 2013 caused in part by costly Johannesburg B737 operations.  Since then under new CEO, former Kenya Airways executive Sauda Rajab, the ageing B737s have been discarded and staff numbers cut by nearly 20%. Additional foreign funding is now being sought. Kenya has declined so the focus is reportedly on the Gulf.

Swaziland rarely hits the news but it does have a brand new US$150m airport sitting totally unused some 70kms east of the capital, Mbabane. Through rose-tinted spectacles at the 2003 planning stage it was to be an international gateway to the southern Africa tourism and conference markets. But why and how against the overwhelming dominance of Johannesburg? Is there any point? Government embarrassment has now led to Swazi-Airlink, the national carrier, being directed to migrate from the old better located Matsapha Airport. As an artificial political creation, like Lilongwe if government restrictions hadn’t forced airlines to go there instead of Blantyre, the new airport will still be largely silent. Swazi-Airlink operates only 5 daily flights to Johannesburg with its single ERJ135.  Spare a thought too for early shift staff resident in Mbabane faced with that 70km journey to work. There are no local buses or rail links.

With Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways now providing 2 flights a day to many East African points, low cost operator FlyDubai, with its growing fleet of new B737-800s has now joined the fray. Although linked with Emirates it is not Emirates. It offers a low cost style of product and, operates  from the low cost terminal on the east side of Dubai’s runways so does not offer easy connections to and from its stablemate. It is now to add Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar to its recently inaugurated Entebbe, Kigali and Bujumbura destinations. Both Dar and Entebbe will continue to be served by Emirates in direct competition for non premium class point to point business. Nairobi has yet to attract FlyDubai. In another move Kenya Airways is responding to even more regional pressure by increasing free baggage allowances on its Dubai flights. They go up to 64kgs for business class and 46kgs for economy. Dubai is the magnet for East African traders and shoppers for whom flying on the same aircraft as their goods is a must. The mysteries, vagueries and potential additional costs in the depths of the continents’ cargo sheds are to blame for that.

Fastjet meanwhile has started linking Dar es Salaam and Entebbe, adding these international links to Harare, Lusaka and Johannesburg. It has also now formed FastJet Kenya which was originally planned to be the launchpad for its East African network.  An application for an Air Service Licence has been made but has yet to be granted. This will be followed by one for an AOC, to which opponents, declared and undeclared, are expected. It’s not difficult to identify them.

While carriers multiply in East Africa, Virgin Atlantic has announced it will withdraw Cape Town-London flights in April 2015.  This follows its earlier retreats from Accra and Nairobi and marks what looks like a 49% owner Delta prompted refocus and redeployment of Heathrow slots onto the Atlantic. In fact it is not unlike the general drift of BA long haul policy either.


Air Uganda continued talks with the Uganda CAA on its AOC renewal including the inspection of the fleet which has since returned to the lessor. Too late though. Predictably the investors became fed up with hassle and uncertainty about the future so this once promising venture has now decided to permanently cease trading. A needless government shot in its own foot even if for reasons only known to itself it does have aspirations to re-start the long defunct state owned Uganda Airlines. They would do better talking to Fastjet.(Sep 2014)

Ethiopian Airlines, their tenth B787-8 due on 2nd October, have placed an order for 20 B737-800MAX’s and taken 15 options. With the passenger capacity of the 737-800 not far short of that of the 787-8, balancing orders between the two aircraft will be every fleet planner’s dilemma. The 737 is substantially lighter and cheaper but is shorter on range, competitive passenger appeal and cargo capacity. As a narrowbody, the 737 is easy to handle on the ground and is just the latest, if highly updated, version of an aircraft which crews, engineers, handlers and passengers everywhere have known since the 1960s. To the economist the answer probably comes out similarly to that of the A330-300 v Boeing 777-200 dilemma. In this case the 737-800 is in the A330-300 position. If it can do the job and meet all the payload and range requirements, ignoring questions and arguments about eventual residual values, it’s cheaper to buy and usually the most economic answer. If it can’t then go for the nicely sized, go anywhere, do anything but more expensive to buy wide bodied 787-8 which also offers the cargo bonus. Depending on freight loads and yields available, the latter can move the figures closer together but the attractions to the finance departments of the biggest 737s remain clear.

Always determined to keep its nose out ahead particularly of the Kenyan competition and to be Africa’s biggest and most successful network airline, Ethiopian is also close to ordering the 777X or A350-1000. A further 17 B787s are another possibility.

The airline is re-launching its Seychelles route on 29th September with a thrice weekly 737-800, aimed we assume mainly at business from overseas. Currency remittance problems make Seychelles and unattractive place for foreign airlines to sell tickets.

(Sep 2014)

Fastjet. See above for our main commentary. The company has reported a 2014 first half US$30.5m loss including US$13.9m ‘trading losses from the Tanzanian operation’.  Fly540 Ghana and Angola had a US$13.5 ‘adverse effect’ and remain on the ground pending ‘restructuring’. With the opening of Harare and Entebbe, average utilisation of the 3 A319s has reached 9.9hrs daily. The profitability target is 11.5hrs.

The anticipated fleet growth from these 3 current A319s is planned to be to 13 aircraft in 2015 and 30+ by 2018. The largest base is to be South Africa with 9 aircraft together with 7 each in Kenya and Tanzania. A search is underway to source up to 10 A319s. The Easyjet fleet rollover would be a logical source. (Sep 2014)

FlySAX (Kenya) is looking to increase its fleet, probably with a veteran but cheap to buy MD83, and to add Juba to the network. Their focus is otherwise mainly on mainly Kenya safari and private charter work. (Sep 2014)

Golden Wings (S Sudan) has launched domestic operations from Juba with Russian aircraft (Aug 2014)

Kenya Airways ,with its brand-strengthening 787-8 fleet now up to 5, is seeking US$3.8m from the Kenya Airports Authority for losses incurred as a result of the August 2013 fire which destroyed the Nairobi’s  arrivals terminal. 
Meanwhile the sensibly cautious progressive migration of flight departures into Nairobi’s new Terminal 1A at the western end of the original 1970s crescent of arrivals terminals continues. Early reports indicate that the building is a considerable improvement on the other three. Early comments would say ”Not before time”. Previous expensive foreign aid backed updating projects have achieved some things but not expensive looking results. (Aug 2014)

Precision Air has added Bukoba and Kigoma to its Tanzanian domestic network using ATR42s. It has also dropped its Comoros route, a successor to Air Comores Nord 262 small turboprop  operation started in the 1960s. This leaves Nairobi, the provider of a good volumes of international feeder traffic, as its sole regional destination. (Sep 2014)
Rwandair has confirmed its order for two B787-8s as part of a new 5 year Strategic Plan. Also included is its intention to expand its African network and to enter long-haul with routes to Europe and China. Hence these 787s. (Sep 2014)
SouthEast Airlines (Kenya) is a new Low Cost carrier. It plans to launch of twice daily Nairobi-Mombasa services with a single CRJ200 any time now. Up against Kenya Airways frequencies and flexible capacity, a twice daily is likely to have a hard time. SouthEast is GSA for Somali-owned African Express Airlines who operate regional services with a small fleet of DC9/MD82s . (Aug2014)
Sudan Airways is seeking to lease A320s for regional flights. Their current fleet comprises 3 F50 and 2 leased A300s.  US trade sanctions severely limit their choice of aircraft. The airline is less than it has been. In the 1960s and 70s it operated a successful and good quality limited sixth freedom network reaching from London through to Nairobi, initially with new Viscount 800s and later Comet 4Cs.


Air Madagascar anticipates being dropped from the EU black list in November. It also intends to replace elderly 737-300s and some ATRs on domestic services with 2 cheap to acquire and operationally versatile BAe RJ85s. The fleet currently includes 2 ATR42s and 2 ATR72-500s. (Sep 2014)

Air Namibia. Windhoek’s Hosea Kutako Airport became ICAO compliant enabling wide-body operations to resume from 4th August. (Aug 2014)
Air Seychelles will launch twice weekly A320 Mahe to Dar es Salaam services in December. It is a route with potential. Unlike Kenya, Tanzania, home of probably the world’s finest game parks, has little in the way of accommodation on its magnificent beaches. As result and despite Zanzibar’s attractions, Tanzania does not provide enough game park and beach holiday combinations to compete with Kenya. Triangular routing possibilities for tour groups using the combined services of Etihad from Europe to Abu Dhabi to Nairobi and back via Seychelles look attractive. (Sep 2014)
Air Zimbabwe.  One the 3 grounded MA60s has been restored to service.
 CEO EO Edmond Makona has told the government  that US$368m is needed to recaptalize the company. That includes US$ 331m for fleet replacement. A reported loss of US$44m in 2013 alone makes these figures unreliable. The current operational fleet consists of one each of B767-200, B737-200 (both elderly) and the MA60 (Sep 2014)

Comair, continuing its policy of either buying new or taking used aircraft from known big name carriers who bought, operated and maintained them, is to take 2 B737-400s from Qantas (Sep 2014)

Malawian Airlines is to launch Mozambique destinations in November. Lilongwe  to Nampula will be served twice weekly and Tete thrice en route to Harare.  The current network consists of Johannesburg, Lusaka and Harare and the single domestic route, Lilongwe to Blantyre. The fleet consists of one Q400 and one B737-800, both leased from 49% shareholder Ethiopian Airlines, with whom all flights are codeshared (Sep 2014)
Proflight (Zambia) is to start thrice weekly Ndola-Lubumbashi services on 14th October.A CRJ100 has been wet leased for one month to cover a fleet shortage but may stay longer. (Sep 2014)
SAA continues to be short of cheerful financial news. The 2012-13 operating loss was US$92m, bringing accumulated losses to US$1.49bn.The Public Enterprise Minister is talking of the need for US$464m to ensure survival. The use of Treasury backed private loans or has been suggested along with, for the first time, bonds. KPMG has been appointed to advise on a 20-25  long haul aircraft fleet renewal programme. That should be a couple of days work but we doubt if it will be.

Possibly in response to the new competition from Fastjet, the airline has increased Johannesburg – Dar es Salaam frequencies to 14 weekly and is now talking of adding new Tanzanian destinations, Mwanza and Mbeya.   (Sep 2014)
SA Airlink is launching twice daily Monday to Friday E135 services between Cape Town-Windhoek on 6th October. In the meantime it started flying, also twice twice daily on weekdays, between Johannesburg and Sishen. (Sep 2014)
Swaziland Airlink As reported above, the airline has been directed by the local CAA to relocate ops from Matsapha to the new and empty King Mswati Airport 70kms from the capital, Mbabane on 30th September. Also as reported, government directed moves of this kind do not have a happy history for the national economy, the airlines, the passengers or the airports. (Sep 2014)

Vic Falls Airways (Zimbabwe) is planning starting up with a leased B767-200ER on routes between Harare and London, Guangzhou and Johannesburg. In the case of Guangzhou the target market is obviously the very large Chinese labour market in central and southern Africa. An Air Operator’s Licence has been issued but the AOC is still awaited (Aug 2014)


Africa World Airlines (Ghana) China’s Hainan subsidiary, whilst pursuing a possible new national airline joint venture with the Government, has deferred its first A319 delivery until February 2015 (Sep 2014)

Air Cote d’Ivoire following the completion of airport upgrades, the airline plans to launch domestic flights in October with new Q400s, 2 of which are firm orders. It also has 2 options (Aug 2014)
Arik Air has signed an MoU with Emirates to explore future areas of co-operation. A shareholding is considered unlikely. (Aug 2014)

Goldstar Airlines (Ghana) has yet to obtain an AOC. Hence a delay to original plans for a June launch with classic B747-200s to Gatwick, Baltimore, Guangzhou and Natal (Brazil). The choice or aircraft is clearly based on purchase or lease price, not engineering or brand image considerations. (Sep 2014)

Med-View Airlines (Nigeria) launched its Lagos – Accra route on 15th September . Abidjan, Dakar and Bamako are to follow by January along with Dubai and Jeddah. The fleet comprises 3 B737s and 1 B767 (Sep 2014)

TACV (Cape Verde) is talking of launching Natal (Brazil) services in 2015.(Sep 2014)

West Link Airlines (Nigeria) is another AOC-holding start-up. It talks of launching scheduled operations with fleet of 6 B737-700s. No dates have been given.  (Aug 2014)


Egyptair ,out-sixth freedomed the Gulf fraternity maybe, (Emirates, Etihad and Qatar are all there) will withdraw its five weekly Cairo – Manchester services this autumn. (Sep 2014)

Syphax (Tunisia) is planning the early 2015 launch of a Tunis-Beijing A330-200 route (Aug 2014)


The Italians stir................

Alitalia  launched a Rome – Marrakesh route, competing with RyanAir on 3rd September (Sep 2014)

Then there’s a bit of a flurry in Eastern Africa by the Gulf fraternity..............

Emirates is to increase its Dar es Salaam frequency from 7 to 12 weekly on 26th October, just as FlyDubai enter the market too. See below for more. (Sep 2014)

Etihad, not one to let the Emirates grass grow under its feet if possible, is to launch A320 services to Entebbe and Dar es Salaam early in 2015. Unlike Emirates who eschew anything smaller than an A330-200 (slowly being phased out), Etihad’s narrow bodies allow it to enter markets on a relatively low risk basis and then develop them to wide body capacity as soon as profitable demand allows,- or just carry on with the narrow bodies.(Sep14)

Fly Dubai on 24th September starts daily B737-800s to Entebbe Two extend to Bujumbura and three to Kigali .They have useful 5th freedom rights Entebbe- Bujumbura.

It is also starting daily Dar es Salaam services on October 16th. Two will extend to Kilimanjaro and two to Zanzibar. Their current fleet comprises 40 B737-800s, mostly between 2 and 3 years old. (Sep 2014) 

And the Turkish................

 Turkish Airlines continues its spectacular route expansion with the launch of thrice weekly A321 flights to Asmara, Eritrea on 19th August.


AFRAA says its Joint Fuel Buying Agreement has saved members US$3m over the past 3 years. AFRAA is negotiating with suppliers on a joint volume basis leaving member carriers to then contract individually.  (Sep 2014)

Burkina Faso has initiated planning for a new airport for its capital city, Ouagadougou (Sep 2014)

Kenya’s  Government, encouraged no doubt by Kenya Airways’ departing CEO Titus Naikuni, seems to have recognised its error and has revoked the impending imposition of VAT on new aircraft and spares (Aug 2014)

Nigeria’s  Government has reiterated its ever present  intention to create a new national carrier.  Almost inevitably there are no details and the previous January 2014 initiative was stillborn. Why this very wealthy government should want to go anywhere near owning or running an airline is a good question. Arik and others in the private sector are perfectly capable of meeting most domestic and regional needs at no cost to the taxpayer. For long haul services and networks the country is well served by foreign carriers and their home hubs.(Sep 2014)

Uganda .Regulatory deficiencies were identified in an ICAO national audit. As previously reported these prompted the Uganda CAA to summarily cancel all AOCs thereby effectively grounding Air Uganda and other local operators. ICAO has yet to reveal the audit findings.  As result Air Uganda ceased operations, terminated staff and returned aircraft to lessors. To fill in a network gap the UCAA quickly granted 5th freedom rights between Entebbe and Juba to Rwandair and Ethiopian Airlines (Jul/Aug 2014)

West Africa The ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone has prompted in the temporary suspension of flights to and within the nearby region. Emirates and British Airways are among the longhaul carriers to have done this (until May 2015 in BA’s case) along with Kenya Airways, Arik and Asky among the regional operators. Business on long haul routes to neighbouring countries is also said to be substantially down and BA have carried out what look like a number of planned cancellations to Accra (Aug 2014)

West African Development Bank is to take minority shareholdings in ASKY and Air Cote d’Ivoire as both carriers seek to increase their share capital (Sep 2014)

John Williams
30 September 2014