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

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Time to take aim at shootdowns


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Few readers will be aware that, on 4 th May, an Embraer EMB-120 passenger plane operated by African Express Airways was shot down with the loss of all on-board.

The aircraft was making a humanitarian flight from Baidoa to Berdale in Somalia, carrying medical supplies for the country’s fight against covid-19. It was downed by Ethiopian soldiers who apparently mistook its “unusual” flight path for a “potential suicide mission” by Al Shabaab, the Islamist terror group.

Six people died, including Captain Hassan Bulhan, the son of the airline’s owner.

Four months earlier, Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 (PS752) was blown out of the sky by Iranian soldiers who feared it was a cruise missile launched by the US military. That catastrophe claimed 176 lives.

And six years ago – in what was supposed to be a watershed moment for the airline industry – Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17) was shot down by Russia-backed rebels over the skies of eastern Ukraine. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) pledged to honour the 298 victims of that tragedy by ensuring that “civilian airliners will never again be brought down by weapons of war”.

Clearly, those words now ring hollow...

Interview: Cosmos Gombura, Sky Navigator Managing Director


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Last year, Cosmos Gombura, the managing director of Sky Navigator, a new South Sudanese airline, drove to neighbouring Uganda to attend a friend’s wedding.

His group made the journey via the Nimule highway – the only tarmacked highway in South Sudan – which stretches from capital city Juba across the Ugandan border to the northern town of Gulu.

Shootings, bombings and sexual assaults are a common occurrence on the notorious road. So, when Gombura’s party became stranded, he inevitably feared the worst...

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Interview: Bushra Abushora, Tarco Aviation Strategic Planning Director


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Last November, Apollo Aviation Group, a US company that manages aircraft assets, was fined $210,000 by the US government for unwittingly leasing out engines that wound up in the hands of Sudan Airways, the flag-carrier of Sudan, in 2014.

The fact that America lifted its economic embargo of Sudan three years ago failed to deter the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the wing of the US Treasury responsible for sanctions enforcement, from pursuing Apollo.

So, too, did the many mitigating factors that OFAC acknowledged of the case: Apollo had no advance warning that its engines would be passed via intermediaries to Sudan Airways; the engines were ultimately in Sudan for just four months on wet-leased aircraft; and the contract was immediately dissolved when Apollo discovered the slip-up.

To even casual observers, this heavy-handed response leaves little doubt about the seriousness that Washington attaches to violations – deliberate or otherwise – of its sanctions regime.

But it also partly explains why the removal of the decades-old US embargo has done little to ease Sudan’s problems...

Interview: Mustafa Maatug, Afriqiyah Airways Chairman


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Mitiga Airport, Tripoli’s only functioning gateway, resumed operations in December after it was closed for three months due to airstrikes by Khalifa Haftar, the country’s most powerful warlord.

The disruption was just the latest blow for Libya’s long-suffering airlines – their previous hub, Tripoli International Airport, was destroyed in 2014 – yet Mustafa Maatug, the chairman of Afriqiyah Airways, one of Libya’s state-owned flag-carriers, is quick to find a silver lining.

“This sort of problem is happening very rarely,” he told African Aerospace. “It happens from time to time, but these problems will not stop us from operating...

Tunisair's Plan B


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Tunisair is working on a new restructuring plan after its government owner walked away from a proposed overhaul that would have cost $1.3 billion Tunisian dinar ($457 million).

“We will use another plan that doesn't need for us this quantity [of money],” Ilyes Mnakbi, the airline’s chief executive, said on the sidelines of an industry conference in Kuwait. “We will make our own plan – not the government's plan – for restructuring the company. It will be less money than the other one … The government doesn't give us this amount."

Mnakbi provided few details about the revised plan, insisting that management were still weighing up several options. But he reiterated his support for three strategic priorities: fleet renewal; rationalisation of the workforce; and an increased focus on Africa...

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Interview: Belarnicio Muangala, Fly Angola General Manager


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Angola’s aviation sector took a symbolic step forward in April, when the European Union lifted all restrictions on TAAG Angola operating in its airspace.

The state-owned flag-carrier had been trying to shake off its EU ban for more than a decade: first gaining an exemption for Portuguese flights; then securing the right to serve elsewhere in Europe with specific aircraft; and finally being given unfettered access to the continent.

By removing TAAG from its blacklist, Brussels signalled that the mismanagement and corruption associated with the airline no longer poses a danger to the safety of flight.

But, on a broader commercial level, there remains little positive to say about civil aviation in Angola...

Interview: Desiré Balazire Bantu, Congo Airways CEO


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Desiré Balazire Bantu was appointed chief executive of Congo Airways in 2016 with a mandate to deliver sustainable growth at the state-owned flag-carrier, which launched services the previous year.

His aim of deploying 10 aircraft by 2020 quickly unravelled when the then president, Joseph Kabila, refused to step down at the end of his term, igniting a full-blown political crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

It was not until this January that a successor replaced Kabila and relative calm returned to capital city Kinshasa...

Monday, 1 July 2019

Interview: Jim Belemu, Mahogany Air CEO


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When Zambia’s late president, Michael Sata, called for Zambia Airways to be resurrected in 2011, local entrepreneur Jim Belemu sensed an opportunity to move into a new sector.

The molecular scientist had already enjoyed a colourful career since obtaining his doctorate, working as a veterinary surgeon, a civil servant, a United Nations researcher and more recently setting up a successful mining company. With metal prices peaking in 2011, he and wife Cynthia were actively searching for their next business venture.

“We decided we needed to do something else which is long-term, maybe not very profitable but at least which keeps us going,” Belemu recalled...

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


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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


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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...