Sunday, 15 January 2017

Interview: Yasser El Ramly, Air Cairo CEO

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Despite crisis after crisis paralysing the Egyptian market in recent years, Air Cairo is sticking by its growth plans and even stepping up activity in Europe as it evolves from a mixed charter/low-cost carrier into a hybrid scheduled operator.

The airline was launched in 1997 as a charter specialist, but gradually diversified with low-cost flying after EgyptAir, the state-owned flag-carrier, became a shareholder in 2003. Its brand name is somewhat misleading, with the majority of flights departing from secondary cities like Sohag and Asyut on the Nile River; Sharm el Sheikh and Hurghada on the Red Sea; and Alexandria on the northern coast.

Although a good portion of the network caters for regional flows between Egypt and Saudi Arabia, Air Cairo’s leisure bases have inevitably felt the impact of repeated aviation disasters and scares in the country...

Interview: Justin Kalumba Mwana Ngongo, Congolese Transport Minister

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By the time African Aerospace goes to press, it should be clear whether Joseph Kabila, the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), is clinging onto power beyond the expiration of his mandate on 19 December 2016.

The postponement of elections until April 2018 has created a political crisis in the country, with Kabila insisting – to the dismay of his opponents – that he should stay in charge until polling day. Repeated hints that DRC’s constitution may be rewritten to permit a third term in office are further inflaming the situation.

What all this means for Congo Airways, the country’s resurrected flag-carrier, is impossible to know. The airline has made impressive strides since its October 2015 launch, tackling DRC’s poor air-safety record with $100 million start-up capital from the government and support from Air France Consulting...

Interview: Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, ICAO President

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Four years after the European Union tried and failed to impose its Emissions Trading System (ETS) on the rest of the world, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has made good on its promise to deliver an alternative scheme for tackling cross-border pollution.

The Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), finalised at ICAO’s 39th Assembly in Montreal in October, commits the industry to an “aspirational goal” of carbon-neutral growth from 2020 onwards. Unlike the ETS, which would have capped carbon emissions in real terms, CORSIA adopts a carbon offsetting approach that mitigates higher emissions through investment in environmental projects approved by the United Nations (UN)...

Interview: Ian Patrick, Air Djibouti CCO

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More than a decade after its previous incarnation was liquidated, Air Djibouti is back in the skies with one Boeing 737-400 and one BAe 146 wet-leased from VVB Aviation Malta and South Africa’s Fair Aviation respectively. Another BAe 146 is due to arrive in February, while a 767-200ER owned by Djibouti’s government has been lined up for long-haul flights.

The flag-carrier was resurrected in August 2015 with a Fokker 27 freighter wet-leased from Kenya’s Astral Aviation, but promptly returned the turboprop after a series of maintenance issues.

Air Djibouti relies wholly on wet leasing due to restrictions placed on the Horn of Africa nation by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), which deems the Djiboutian Civil Aviation Authority unfit to oversee operations. The full spectrum of its managerial, operational and technical activities has been contracted out to Cardiff Aviation, the support specialist founded by Iron Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson...

Monday, 9 January 2017

'Poverty pay' for BA's high flyers

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Barring a last-minute breakthrough, about 2,500 cabin crew members employed by British Airways (BA) will strike this week over alleged “poverty pay” at the airline. Workers originally planned walkouts for the Christmas period, but suspended the action to consider a revised pay offer. Having rejected that offer by a 7-1 margin, the strikes will now occur on 10th and 11th January. BA says the impact will be minimal, with 85% of cabin crew reporting for duty and just 12 return flights being cancelled each day. Passengers due to travel on those affected flights, which all leave from London Heathrow Airport, will be rebooked onto alternative services. Still, the slightest whiff of disruption will prompt howls of discontent in the capital, which is already reeling from strikes on the London Underground network and some national rail services...

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Interview: Ashraf Lamloum, Nesma Airlines Managing Director

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At the time of writing, Egypt’s Nesma Airlines had just launched domestic flights in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) with a pair of ATR 72-600s. The Saudi unit will initially operate from the northern city of Ha’il, before basing aircraft elsewhere in the country and eventually adding international flights.

The launch of a new airline in Saudi Arabia is a landmark event for a sector that has long shied away from competition. Until late last year, state-owned flag-carrier Saudia provided 77% of capacity in the domestic market, with privately-owned Flynas offering the only alternative for travellers. Efforts to launch two other carriers – SaudiGulf Airlines and Al Maha Airways – moved at a glacial pace since 2012, although the former announced progress just as this article went to press.

The establishment of Nesma KSA is also the latest in a series of strategic rebirths by Nesma Egypt, which began life as a charter operator connecting Red Sea and Nile River resorts with Europe in July 2010 – just before President Hosni Mubarak was overthrown and Egypt’s once-flourishing tourism sector nosedived...