Congo’s Airspace Takes a New Flight Path: Sets Sight for a Second National Airline, Air Congo 

The Democratic Republic of Congo has plans in motion for the establishment of a second national airline, Air Congo.

While Congo Airways recently suspended its flights due to financial troubles, the government has unveiled plans to establish a second national airline, Air Congo, in collaboration with Ethiopian Airlines Group. This strategic move aims to revitalize the country’s aviation sector, but questions remain about how the two airlines will coexist.

Congo Airways, the country’s first national airline, took off eight years ago with grand ambitions of serving destinations across Africa. However, it faced turbulence on its journey, culminating in the suspension of its flights in September due to financial challenges. The nation’s Transport Minister cited issues such as a “wrong business model,” “non-transparent administration,” and “inappropriate pricing structures” as key factors contributing to this crisis.

Nonetheless, President Félix Tshisekedi’s government remained steadfast in its commitment to enhancing the nation’s aviation capabilities. In mid-September, the decision was made to establish a second national airline, Air Congo, a concept that had been under consideration for two years, reports Politico. This venture comes with a notable partner, Ethiopian Airlines Group, a renowned player in the African aviation space. Ethiopian Airlines Group is set to provide financial support as well as invaluable expertise to ensure the success of Air Congo.

The government has set an ambitious timeline, aiming to prepare Air Congo for applying for its air operator’s certificate (AOC) within five months. Importantly, the government has expressed its intention that the establishment of Air Congo should not come at the expense of Congo Airways.

However, the specifics of how these two airlines will coexist and differentiate themselves in the market are yet to be revealed. Two years ago, Air Congo was envisioning a fleet of seven aircraft, indicating its aspiration for a robust presence in the skies.

Source: Airspace-Africa.

Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism, Real Madrid announce landmark global partnership

DUBAI – Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism, together with Real Madrid Club de Fútbol, have kicked off a landmark collaboration.

The multi-year agreement promises a range of exciting activations, special fan moments and unique experiences for Dubai and Real Madrid fans.

The newly formed alliance will equally serve as a powerhouse platform to create new growth opportunities for both institutions and support Dubai’s ambitious plans as part of its recently announced Dubai Economic Agenda – D33.

Being at the forefront of global sports entertainment with the world’s greatest Club aligns perfectly with Dubai’s ambitious plans to consolidate its position among the top three global cities. Launching this October, the partnership encompasses Real Madrid’s First Men and Women Football Teams, bringing a taste of Dubai to Santiago Bernabéu offering fans unforgettable experiences and services.

Issam Kazim, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DCTCM), and Florentino Perez, President of Real Madrid Club de Fútbol, formalised the partnership during an official ceremony at the legendary Sala de Juntas in Ciudad Real Madrid, in the presence of Jose Angel Sanchez, Chief Executive Officer of the Club, and Emilio Butragueño, Real Madrid legend and Director of Institutional Relations.

Kazim commented, “We are excited to begin our journey with Real Madrid as a global partner. This game-changing collaboration between Dubai and the greatest Club in the world is built upon a shared vision and values, where every achievement motivates one to pursue new heights. With our aim to consolidate Dubai’s position among the top three global cities, this strategic alliance will harness the strengths of a leading destination and the world’s most celebrated team to reaffirm Dubai globally as the best city to visit, live, and work in.”

Butragueño, in turn, said, “We are very proud of this new partnership with Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism as the Club’s first Official Destination Partner. Dubai is a destination that strives for excellence in all its entertainment offerings, a value shared by the Club. We are delighted to bring this exciting tourist destination to our millions of Madridistas around the world.”

Dubai’s strong public and private sector relations are at the heart of its success, and this new collaboration with Real Madrid further builds on a longstanding partnership that Emirates has cemented since 2011.

It is also perfectly timed for the upcoming Real Madrid themed-park at Dubai Parks and Resorts, the largest theme park destination in the Middle East, which will further expand the city’s diverse destination proposition.

The park, which will be the world’s first Real Madrid-themed park, will feature a number of Real Madrid-related attractions, such as a museum, amusement rides and football skill games, food and beverage outlets, and retail spaces selling official Real Madrid products.

Source: Zawya.

Gov’t suspends all non-essential travel for public officers

The government has suspended all non-essential travel for public officers in new austerity measures aimed at reducing public expenditure.

In a circular issued on Monday, October 2, Head of Public Service Felix Koskei said the move was in line with the constitution’s demands on prudent and responsible utilization of taxpayers’ money.

The categories of foreign travel that have been frozen include benchmarking and study visits, training and related capacity-building initiatives, research, academic meetings and symposia.

Others are conferences and meetings of general participation, side events, showcase events and exhibitions, and caucus and association meetings and events.

“Art. 201(d) of the Constitution demands the prudent and responsible utilization of public money, a principle that remains the guiding anchor of the Government’s current fiscal consolidation and monetary policy strategies. A key outcome of these interventions has been the reduction of the resource envelope available to undertake the wide-ranging activities that have been planned in pursuit of respective governmental mandates at both National and County levels.

“This has necessitated the need to scale down and prioritize spending, focusing on the critical operations and activities that are essential to service delivery to the citizen,” Koskei said adding that the decision follows an advisory from the National Treasury.

At the same time, Koskei announced restrictions for the delegations accompanying state officers for foreign trips including the President, First Lady and Deputy President.

In the new guidelines, the delegation accompanying the President, the First Lady and the Deputy President will be limited to approved officials with a direct role in the scheduled activities.

Further, officials accompanying Cabinet Secretaries and Governors shall not exceed three persons including the head of the delegation while delegations headed by Principal Secretaries have been restricted to two.

“Where the Cabinet Secretary is to be accompanied, at least one (1) of the delegates shall be a technical officer specialised in the subject matter of the foreign engagement, with no security or personal assistants/logistics officers other than as exempted,” the communiqué reads.

“It is reiterated that Cabinet and Principal Secretaries in the same ministries shall not be away on foreign travel at the same time, unless the foreign engagement expressly demands the same.”

The period of official visits has also been capped at a maximum of seven days including the travel days.

Source: People daily

Tourism: More airlines increase flight frequencies to Seychelles Islands

Seychelles is becoming more accessible to visitors from other parts of the world with an increase in airline connections and flight frequencies, said Tourism Seychelles, the marketing arm of the tourism department

Last Saturday, Condor Airlines resumed seasonal flights to Seychelles with a new innovative aircraft, the Airbus A330Neo-900. The charter airline links Seychelles directly to Frankfurt in Germany.

Condor will operate a weekly direct flight enhancing the connection between Germany and Seychelles and from November 21 to March 12, 2024, it will add an additional weekly flight to the route.

Edelweiss Airline, the renowned Swiss leisure carrier, also resumed operations with a weekly direct flight from Zurich to Seychelles.

Another European carrier, Turkish Airlines, will operate three weekly flights end of October connecting Seychelles to Istanbul.

Ethiopian Airlines, one of Africa’s leading carriers, is set to increase its flight frequency to Seychelles to twice daily flights in October giving more options for travellers from various parts of the world including the African continent.  

Emirates remains the leading carrier for travellers to Seychelles, currently maintaining seven flights weekly and resuming its double daily flights as of October.

Meanwhile, Aeroflot, Russia’s national airline, will expand travel frequency to Seychelles as of October 16. The airline will have three weekly flights connecting Moscow directly to Seychelles, making sure that the Eastern European country remains among the top source markets for the island.

The new flight connections are expected to increase visitors’ arrivals to Seychelles in the fourth quarter.

The director general for Destination Marketing, Bernadette Willemin, said, “It gives us great pleasure to witness the surge in flight connections between Seychelles and crucial markets. The Seychelles Islands have always been known for their unparalleled natural beauty and vibrant culture and with these new connections, we eagerly anticipate welcoming travellers from across the globe to experience our unique paradise.”

The figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics on September 7, show that a total of 28,177 visitors arrived in Seychelles in August 2023, representing a decrease of 4 percent compared to August 2022. However, year to date figures show that 229,205 visitors disembarked in Seychelles compared to 216,777 over the same period in 2022.  

Tourism is the top contributor to the economy of Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean.

Seychelles is currently served by five additional airlines – Air Seychelles, Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways, Air Austral and Kenya Airways.

Source: Seychelles News Agency.

New JKIA Terminal Construction To Start In January

The government plans to modernize and expand Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) as it seeks to make it competitive regionally.

Caleb Kositany, Chairman of the Kenya Airport Authority (KAA), said that the new facility will reduce congestion at Kenya’s main port of entry and exit.

Kositany said that the facility will reinforce JKIA’s status as Africa’s premier hub and gateway into East and Central Africa.

The KAA Chair spoke on Sunday when he presided over Togolese passenger airline Asky Airlines inaugural flight from Lome-Nairobi as the company expanded its presence in East Africa.

The airline will be flying four times a week between the two nations.

Its expansion to Kenya now provides travelers with connecting flights to Abidjan, Abuja, Accra, Bamako, Bangui, Bissau, and Beirut.

Others are Brazzaville, Conakry, Cotonou, Dakar, Douala, Freetown, Kinshasa, Lagos, Libreville, Monrovia, N’Djamena, Niamey, Ouagadougou, Pointe Noire, & Yaounde.

JKIA, which was constructed in 1978, is Kenya’s crucial airport and is home to Kenya Airways and Jambojet, among other airlines.

It handles over 5 million passengers annually. Initially, it was meant to accommodate 2 million travelers per year.

Source: Capital Business

Calls for a united Africa at the tourism forum in Botswana

Africans are yet to understand the full extent of their potential as a united force and embracing the Africa Continental Free Trade Area agenda could just be what the continent needed to make this realisation. That’s according to Susan Akporiaye, President of the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies.

She was speaking at the Africa Tourism Leadership Forum in Gaborone Botswana where stakeholders in the industry, including government officials, have gathered to devise ways to improve intra-Africa travel and trade.

“I know this continent has so much wealth, so, so much that we don’t have an idea or have a clue of how powerful we are in Africa and if we can just … I don’t know how to call it, maybe bring our pride down … we are too scared of each other. We are so, so scared of each other,” she says.

Cultural stereotypes among Africans, she says, are holding Africans back and maybe something Africans may need to overcome before the AfCFTA agenda is fully embraced.

“The average Nigerian believes a South African doesn’t like them, that they hate them,” she laments.

AfCFTA is an economic integration programme launched by the African Union in 2018 to make improve intra-Africa trade having been ratified by 47 of the 54 African countries. It intends to achieve its goals of increasing intra-African trade and fostering industrial growth by establishing a single market that facilitates the unrestricted movement of people, investment, goods, and services across the African continent.

The African tourism industry is looking to the adoption of this programme to improve tourism on the continent and it has dominated discussions at the 6th tourism forum currently under way in Gaborone.

Among the suggestions put on the table is for Africa to create its own travel culture, which should possibly include getting rid of passports. That’s according to Kenya Tourism Federation CEO Susan Ongalo.

Source: SABC News

Building Bridges to a Sustainable Future: The 2023 WTTC Global Summit

In a milestone event that promises to reshape the contours of the global Travel & Tourism sector, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) today unveils the bold theme and agenda for WTTC’s 23rd Global Summit taking place in Kigali, Rwanda: “Building Bridges to a Sustainable Future”.

This year’s eagerly awaited Global Summit, set to unfold from the 1 – 3 November 2023, takes place in Africa for the first time, recognizing the phenomenal growth the Travel & Tourism sector across the continent has witnessed in recent years.

Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO, said: “This Global Summit is a rallying cry for leaders, innovators, and change-makers from all corners of the globe to come together and craft a new vision for the sector.

“It’s an unparalleled opportunity to be at the forefront of shaping a sector that is not only resilient but is also committed to the principles of sustainability and inclusivity.

“Africa is the perfect venue for our Global Summit, as the sector embarks on a significant new chapter. Africa has the world’s youngest population and by 2033, $1 in every $13 created in Africa, will come from Travel & Tourism and 1 in 17 jobs will be in Travel & Tourism. This demonstrates the huge potential the continent’s sector has for new jobs and new economic growth for young people across Africa.”

With sessions on resilience and sustainable growth, the growing impact of AI and understanding new and emerging markets, the Global Summit is set to cover the key challenges and opportunities facing the sector.

The latest Economic Impact Research from the global tourism body reveals a staggering ten-year forecast for Africa’s Travel & Tourism sector. In 2033, WTTC predicts that the Travel & Tourism sector will contribute more than $300BN to Africa’s economy and jobs in the sector will grow significantly, reaching more than 36MN in total.

In Rwanda, WTTC is forecasting that by 2033 the Travel & Tourism sector will contribute more than $2.1BN to the national economy and will support almost 568,000 jobs. This is testament to Rwanda’s commitment to sustainable tourism, diversifying the experiences it offers, and promoting awareness of its rich biodiversity, culture and heritage, and art.

The 2023 WTTC Global Summit seeks to be the catalyst for this change, offering a platform where vibrant ideas meet opportunity, and where the future of Travel & Tourism will be redrawn and redefined.

Source: Hospitality net.

Jambojet puts its local business share at 54pc

Low-cost carrier Jambojet says it has taken a 54 percent domestic air market share after it flew 779,000 passengers since January, marking a 23 percent increase compared to 559,830 in a similar period last year.

According to the airline, the achievement was met as a result of increasing flight frequencies across key routes to meet growing demand, especially during the peak seasons which are centered around the school calendar.

Jambojet competitors in the local market include its parent firm Kenya Airways, Mombasa Air Safari, Safarilink Aviation, Fly ALS, and AirKenya Express.

KQ launched Jambojet in April 2014, making a return to the regional low-cost carrier market, a decade after folding its former low-priced unit Flamingo Airlines in 2004.

Jambojet operates various routes with daily frequencies between Nairobi and Mombasa (nine times), Kisumu (five times), Eldoret (four or five times), Malindi (three or four times), Diani (two or three times), and Lamu (once daily). The airline also operates four weekly flights to Goma in the DRC from Nairobi and offers daily direct flights between Mombasa and Kisumu and Eldoret.

Jambojet’s competitors in the local market include its parent firm Kenya Airways, Mombasa Air Safari, Safarilink Aviation, Fly ALS, and AirKenya Express.

KQ launched Jambojet in April 2014, making a return to the regional low-cost carrier market, a decade after folding its former low-priced unit Flamingo Airlines in 2004.

Jambojet operates various routes with daily frequencies between Nairobi and Mombasa (nine times), Kisumu (five times), Eldoret (four or five times), Malindi (three or four times), Diani (two or three times), and Lamu (once daily). The airline also operates four weekly flights to Goma in the DRC from Nairobi and offers daily direct flights between Mombasa and Kisumu and Eldoret.

Source: businessdailyafrica.

Niger Bans Air France & All Other French Aircraft from Its Airspace

Nearly four weeks after re-opening its airspace to international flights, the Republic of Niger has banned all French aircraft, including the Air France fleet, from operating there. Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron says that France will withdraw troops and end military cooperation with the West African country.

Niger Airspace restrictions

Niger’s airspace was closed entirely for all flights on August 6 following a military coup, which saw the ousting of the democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoum. The airspace was eventually opened on September 4, allowing several airlines to fly over the country and return to Niamey.

However, the country has issued a new restriction affecting French commercial and military flight operations. This was stated in a letter from the Presidency of the Republic of Niger, per a statement sent to the Agency for Air Navigation Safety in Africa (ASECNA) on September 23. Part of the statement read;

“Niger has decided to restrict access to its airspace. This remains open to all national commercial flights and international aircraft, with the exception of French aircraft and those chartered by France, including the Air France fleet.”

“In addition, all operational military flights and special flights remain prohibited unless exceptionally authorized by the authorities”

The Presidency added that this decision reflects the wishes of the people of Niger, through the government’s voice, to regain control of the country’s airspace. We contacted Air France for a comment, but it had not been available at the time of publication.

Operations in West Africa

West Africa has been a very important market for the French national carrier for years. Following the closure of the Nigerien airspace, Air France suspended flights to Niamey (Niger), Bamako (Mali), and Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) due to safety concerns.

Consequently, the civil aviation authorities of Mali and Burkina Faso canceled the airline’s authorization to operate its summer 2023 flights, citing its failure of prior notification, which resulted in passenger inconveniences. From Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG), AF operated daily flights to Bamako, four weekly to Niamey, and three weekly to Ouagadougou with its Boeing 777 and Airbus A330 aircraft.

The French airline has not returned to these destinations, and the new restriction issued by Niger will further affect its operations in West Africa. Meanwhile, it continues to fly to other destinations in the region, including Abidjan (ABJ), Accra (ACC), Dakar (DSS), and Lagos (LOS).

Flying to and over Niger

When the country’s airspace was shut nearly two months ago, airline operations in and around the continent were severely affected, especially those flying between Europe and Sub-saharan Africa. Many carriers were forced to cancel flights, replan schedules, and reroute via other countries.

Since September 4, some carriers have resumed flights to Niamey Diori Hamani International Airport (NIM), including Ethiopian Airlines, Royal Air Maroc, and Turkish Airlines.

Similarly, airlines rerouting via other countries have begun flying over Niger again. For example, British Airways’ A380 Johannesburg-London service, which was forced to fly over Gabon, the Gulf of Guinea, and Ghana, to mention a few, has resumed operations through Nigerien Airspace.

Source: Simpleflying

Nigeria returns $29mn in trapped funds – IATA

Nigeria appears to have returned USD29.2 million in foreign airlines’ blocked funds in the past four months, according to the latest statistics released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

In a statement on September 19, the association said Nigeria presently accounts for USD783 million of blocked airline funds, while in another statement in June, it said Nigeria was withholding USD812.2 million in April 2023.

On inquiry, an IATA spokesperson confirmed that the reduction in trapped funds was “due to many factors, including a weak intervention from the [Nigerian] government”. “Government intervention was not deep enough to significantly reverse the trend as the figures have started going up again. We forecast higher figures in September due to the accumulation of new sales, lack of liquidity on the Investors’ & Exporters’ FX Window and the inability of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to settle legacy matured FX (foreign exchange) bids.”

The latest IATA statistics were released during a meeting between Nigeria’s new Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, and IATA’s Regional Vice-President for Africa and the Middle East, Kamil Al Awadhi, in Abuja last week.

Al Awadhi called on the new Nigerian government for closer consultation with the aviation industry to develop short- and long-term solutions for foreign exchange access for domestic and foreign carriers.

IATA Director General Willie Walsh has warned that airlines cannot continue to provide services in markets where they cannot repatriate their revenues. A case in point has been Emirates (EK, Dubai International), which suspended services to Nigeria after the route became financially unviable, with the CBN holding on to the carrier’s ticket sales. It has demanded the repatriation of at least 80% of its remaining frozen funds and a guaranteed mechanism to prevent future remittance delays.

Emirates first suspended flights to Nigeria on September 1 after demanding the payout of USD85 million of its revenue. It reinstated them 10 days later after the CBN released USD265 million to international airlines. By November 2022, the carrier suspended flights again, citing unsuccessful negotiations with the Nigerian authorities.

Relations between the nations have thawed following the appointment of the new Nigerian president, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, earlier this year. Following a meeting on September 11 between Tinubu and Emirati President Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Nigerians announced an agreement was reached that would see Emirates and Etihad Airways resume flights and immediately lifting a UAE visa ban on Nigerians. However, no official statement was issued by the UAE. An unidentified Emirati official told CNN there was no change in the travel ban. Nigeria then indicated the CBN would announce a roadmap in the next two weeks to address the refunds and that modalities were being discussed with the UAE government.

Source: ch-aviation.