Showing posts with label African Aerospace. Show all posts
Showing posts with label African Aerospace. Show all posts

Monday, 1 April 2019

Interview: Philippe Bohn, Air Senegal CEO


Full article in PDF format: page 16-18 & cover

When Air Senegal began operations in May 2018, it marked the West African nation’s third attempt at a state-owned flag carrier.

The failure of predecessors Air Senegal International and Senegal Airlines would come as little surprise to anyone familiar with the challenges of African aviation.

Senegal has a relatively small air transport market: just 2.3 million passengers pass through Dakar’s Blaise Diagne International Airport, its main hub, each year. The country’s population of 16 million would be a limiting factor even in the developed world, where most people can afford to fly. In the developing world, it makes running a commercial airline all but impossible.

Yet closed skies are not an option for Macky Sall, Senegal’s president, who was re-elected in February with a mandate to further advance his Plan Senegal Emergent (PSE) – a 20-year economic and social strategy aimed at delivering long-term prosperity...

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Zimbabwe Airways crash lands


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The delivery of a 13-year-old Boeing 777-200ER to Zimbabwe has ignited a row over corruption and alleged misappropriation of funds in the final days of former president Robert Mugabe’s rule.

Government officials welcomed the new aircraft – the first of four purchased from Malaysia Airlines – at a ceremony at Harare’s Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport on 11 April. The plane is painted in the colours of a new airline, Zimbabwe Airways, which aims to restore long-haul connections formerly served by Air Zimbabwe, the chronically mismanaged state-owned flag-carrier.

Yet, without even taking to the skies, Zimbabwe Airways is already courting the same controversy that dogged Air Zimbabwe during Mugabe’s time in office. Transparency is by far the biggest concern...

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Interview: Bakhouche Alleche, Air Algerie CEO


Full article in PDF format

Algeria’s Transport Ministry denied rumours that Air Algérie is heading for bankruptcy in January, insisting that the flag-carrier enjoys the full support of the government despite its “difficult financial situation”.

The intervention followed a series of walkouts by employees, who are angry at new chief executive Bakhouche Alleche for freezing planned wage increases. Those pay-hikes had reportedly been agreed by Mohamed Bouderbala, Air Algérie’s previous boss, but were axed as part of a newly launched turnaround plan.

Speaking to African Aerospace shortly before the strikes, the airline’s top management insisted that boosting on-time-performance (OTP) should be a higher priority than lifting an already burdensome wage bill...

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Interview: Mohamed Radhy Ould Bennahi, Mauritania Airlines International CEO


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When Mauritania Airlines International was established in December 2010, it marked the third attempt at a flag-carrier in a decade by the Islamic Republic.

Just three years previously, Mauritania Airways, a joint venture with Tunisair, had been set up with the same aim of providing connectivity for the little-known West African nation. Its rapid fall from grace followed the slow demise of Air Mauritanie, the country’s historic flag-carrier, which cooperated with pan-regional carrier Air Afrique for most of its four decades in the skies.

That financial headwinds grounded both predecessors is hardly surprising when one considers Mauritania’s vital statistics. With an agriculture-focused economy and a small, conservative population that typically eschews overseas travel, the country suffers from weak demand on both the inbound and outbound sectors...

Interview: Abubaker Elfortia, Afriqiyah Airways Chairman


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When Libya’s globally-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) was signed into existence in December 2015, the United Nations hailed its “clear plan for rebuilding a strong, united and peaceful Libya” after five years of unrest split the country down the middle with two competing governments.

The 12 months that followed saw the Misrata brigades, a band of militias loyal to the GNA, drive Daesh from its strongholds in Libya – liberating thousands from the ultra-hardline terrorists and securing a key victory for the fledgling government.

But, beyond that all-important military success, there are few reasons to look back on 2016 as an encouraging year for Libya. Hopes for unity have unravelled in the face of continued opposition from power-brokers in the east of the country, who flexed their muscles last summer by voting against the GNA’s mandate and seizing oil terminals. One western group responded by seizing premises in Tripoli and trying to restore executive powers to Khalifa Al-Ghwell, the former prime minister...

Sunday, 15 January 2017

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...

Friday, 1 July 2016

Interview: Peter Hill, TAAG Angola CEO


Full article in PDF format: page 24/25 & cover

In December 2011, shortly before he stepped down as chief executive of Oman Air, I asked Peter Hill if he was hanging up his coat for the last time in the aviation business.

“I think so,” sighed the industry veteran, who started his career at British Overseas Airways Corporation before spearheading the Gulf aviation boom as a founding member of Dubai’s Emirates Airline, and latterly steering the flag-carriers of Sri Lanka and Oman. “Fifty years in the business is long enough for anybody.”

So he thought at the time.

Within six months of retiring, Hill began receiving phone calls about “small projects” here and there in the travel industry. His willingness to take the commissions soon caught the attention of friend and former colleague Tim Clark, the president of Emirates...

Interview: Jean Paul Nana Sandjo, Camair-Co CEO


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Camair-Co launched operations in 2011 as a successor to Cameroon Airlines, the central African country's historic flag-carrier, which was dogged by financial losses and safety shortcomings during its 37-year history.

Following a pattern that has been repeated by governments across the continent, Cameroon liquidated its old flag-carrier in 2008 before starting again with a clean slate and a new brand. President Paul Biya, who has been in office since 1982, resurrected the parastatal with start-up capital of 100 million CFA francs ($170,000).

Whereas Air France had helped launch the first flag-carrier, Germany's Lufthansa stepped in to provide technical and consultancy assistance to Camair-Co.

To date, however, there is little to suggest that the new company is facing any less turbulence than its forbearer...

Interview: Joao Pereira da Silva, TACV CEO


Full article in PDF format

On paper, Cape Verde would seem to be the ideal place to invest a national carrier.

The volcanic archipelago consists of ten islands located 570km off the west African coast, making air travel the only viable means of getting from one part of the country to another.

Cape Verde's picturesque beaches also serve as a magnet for foreign tourists – half a million of whom visit the island nation each year, typically taking a short flight from western Europe. Travel and tourism currently accounts for 15% of GDP and should grow its share to nearly 19% by 2025, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council.

Throw in the fact that most Cape Verdeans live abroad – guaranteeing a steady flow of VFR (Visiting Friends and Relatives) traffic – and it is hard to imagine TACV Cabo Verde Airlines, the country's flag-carrier, performing badly...

Friday, 1 April 2016

Interview: Abderahmane Berthé, Air Burkina CEO


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Recent years have not been kind to Celestair, the grouping of small African flag-carriers established by the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED), an international agency based in Geneva.

The alliance, in truth, no longer really exists. Two of its official members have ceased operations since the turn of the decade – Air Mali in 2012 and Air Uganda in 2014 – while AKFED sold its shareholding in a third affiliate, Air Côte d'Ivoire, in 2013.

But the last member of Celestair soldiers on defiantly. Though small in size and almost unknown outside of its Ouagadougou base, Air Burkina, the flag-carrier of Burkina Faso, is holding its own in the notoriously difficult West African market...

Interview: Ben Dahwa, Air Botswana CEO


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The board of directors at Air Botswana was dissolved in November, when Transport Minister Tshenolo Mabeo pledged to reboot the flag-carrier with a "clean slate" after years of losses.

It was not the news that Ben Dahwa, the airline's general manager, had been waiting for. The former engineer was in the final stages of securing funding from the Government for his five-year turnaround plan, drawn up with help from ICF Consultants.

Dahwa had no illusions about the difficulties facing Air Botswana – a minnow in the African aviation market with a history of corrupt management and inefficient operations.

"Please do not write us off. We are intending to greatly improve," he told journalists four months before his dismissal, acknowledging the parastatal's poor reputation but promising change for the better...

Friday, 15 January 2016

Interview: Mbuvi Ngunze, Kenya Airways CEO


Full article in PDF format

After several months in the doghouse, management at Kenya Airways (KQ) have bounced back from their worst ever financial performance by announcing an urgent restructuring plan. The ailing flag-carrier now aims to restore profitability under an 18-month turnaround strategy developed by consultants McKinsey & Company.

Many analysts are reserving judgement on the plan until further details are disclosed, but chief executive Mbuvi Ngunze promises that a slew of measures will help reverse last year's devastating 25.7 billion shilling ($254 million) loss.

Ostensibly turning his back on Project Mawingu, the ten-year growth strategy launched in 2011, Ngunze is pursuing an urgent overhaul of KQ's finances in a bid to raise up to $346 million. Some $200 million of that will be generated from unspecified cost-cutting measures – job losses are widely expected – with the remainder coming from the sale of four Boeing 777-200ERs and other assets...

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Interview: René Décurey, Air Côte d'Ivoire CEO


Full article in PDF format

West African aviation was dealt a heavy blow in 2002, when Air Afrique ceased operations and the sub-region lost its only transnational carrier.

Based in Ivory Coast's economic capital Abidjan, the pan-African airline had been launched in 1961 as a joint venture between two French airlines: flag-carrier Air France and the now-defunct Union Aeromaritime de Transport (UAT). Two-thirds of Air Afrique's capital was held by an alliance of West African states, ensuring strong political support across the sub-region.

Following its demise, regional powerbrokers came together again in 2004 under the auspices of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to establish a successor. Their efforts delivered ASKY Airlines, the Togo-based carrier part-owned by Ethiopian Airlines.

Air France and Abidjan may, perhaps, have felt sidelined by the move, but they would not be out of the picture for long...

Interview: Frank Legré, Air France SVP Africa


Full article in PDF format

As one of the largest and best-known airlines in the world, it was no surprise that Air France pulled out all the stops when unveiling its cabin upgrades last year.

The French flag-carrier introduced its new First, Business and Economy class products at four stations across the global network: Paris, of course, was a no-brainer; so too was America's financial hub, New York; likewise, perhaps, for the Chinese metropolis of Shanghai – but the fourth destination left many observers scratching their heads.

Libreville, the capital of the West African nation of Gabon, rarely finds itself bunched together with the New Yorks and Parises of the world. Yet it was this city of less than 800,000 people that rounded off the quartet...

Interview: Muneer Bankole, Med-View Airline CEO


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Less than a decade after starting life as a charter operator for the Hajj pilgrimage, Nigeria's Med-View Airline is building up its scheduled network across West Africa while looking for expansion opportunities beyond the sub-region.

"We are moving gradually in the next 12 months to make additional inroads into four new destinations: Abidjan [in Côte d’Ivoire], Conakry [in Guinea], Dakar [in Senegal] and probably Liberia," chief executive Muneer Bankole said during the IATA AGM in Miami in June.

The addition of several regional points will be a major leap for the Lagos-based carrier, which presently deploys five Boeing 737 Classics on scheduled services to four domestic cities (Abuja, Port Harcourt, Yola and Enugu) plus Accra in Ghana...

Interview: Rene Gsponer, Air Namibia Acting CEO


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"We know the low-cost carriers will come. It's just a matter of when," Rene Gsponer, Air Namibia's acting managing director, said in a stone-faced interview at the IATA AGM in Miami. "But we are ready for them – much more than we were two years ago."

A Swiss national, Gsponer landed the job of chief operating officer and accountable manager at Air Namibia in October 2013, following a lengthy stint as one of IATA's senior consultants.

His appointment came in the midst of a painful restructuring period at the Namibian carrier, whose government owner was rapidly losing patience with the parastatal for its heavy financial losses. After commissioning IATA to develop an urgent turnaround strategy, the airline's board was so impressed by Gsponer that it put him in charge of executing what had now become a do-or-die plan.

It took just one year for the consultant-turned-manager's vision to bear fruit, with Air Namibia announcing four consecutive months of profit in November 2014 for the first time in its history...

Interview: Adrian Hamilton-Manns, FlyAfrica CEO


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Just one year into operations, pan-African low-cost carrier FlyAfrica is making good on its ambitious growth plans by launching a new subsidiary in Namibia and securing political backing for a third offshoot in Gabon.

The airline group, which began flying from Zimbabwe in July 2014, is headed by chief executive Adrian Hamilton-Manns and part-owned by South African arms dealer Ivor Ichikowitz. Its business model involves setting up franchises across Africa through joint-venture agreements with local partners.

But despite spreading its wings faster than London-listed competitor FastJet – which first exported the European low-cost model to Africa in 2012 – the group has not been immune to the continent's regulatory headwinds...

Cape expectations


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Long-running management turmoil at South African Airways (SAA) took another twist in August, when human resources boss Thuli Mpshe became the latest person to head up the lossmaking flag-carrier in an acting capacity.

Mpshe took over the reins from Nico Bezuidenhout, the boss of SAA's low-cost subsidiary Mango, who has twice been called on to steady the ship after full-time appointees fell from grace.

His immediate predecessor, Monwabisi Kalawe, got the chop after apparently stepping on the wrong side of powerful chairperson Dudu Myeni.

Amid endless reports of boardroom bust-ups and personal feuds, Bezuidenhout succeeded during his brief tenure in executing SAA's emergency 90-day action plan and resurrecting the stalled long-term turnaround strategy...