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ET, AFRAA and UTD Aviation Solutions to re-establish African Aviation Renaissance in MRO Services

Ethiopian Airlines MRO, UTD Aviation Solutions and the African Airlines Association (AFRAA) have signed a tripartite MoU to work together on Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) services in pursuance of The Brown Condor Initiative (BCI).

The signing ceremony took place at Ethiopian Airlines headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The Brown Condor Initiative (BCI) is a joint initiative which was conceptualized in 2020 and officially launched by UTD Aviation Solutions and AFRAA in May 2021. The BCI project is aimed at providing a platform for AFRAA members with Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facilities to relieve the USA MRO workforce crunch in terms of both facilities and manpower constraints, as well as support other airlines from USA in MRO services and aircraft spares.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Mr. Abdérahmane Berthé, AFRAA Secretary-General stated: “This signing ceremony with Ethiopian Airlines is a significant milestone in the Brown Condor project. We express our appreciation to Ethiopian Airlines as the first African airline to sign the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that will operationalize the objectives of this robust Project.”

“For 2 years, as part of the industry recovery measures at AFRAA, we have been working with partners to bring solutions to our members to reduce costs or increase revenues. We look forward to onboarding other AFRAA airlines with EASA or FAA Certified MRO capabilities onto this project. Our joint efforts reflect a paradigm shift in the MRO industry.” Mr. Berthé added.

Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Mr. Mesfin Tassew on his part, said: Ethiopian MRO Services, as the largest MRO service provider in Africa, is continuously increasing its capacity and expanding its reach to customers in the Middle East, Europe, and the Americas. We are pleased to sign this MoU with UTD and AFRAA as it is in line with our plan to increase our market reach and build our presence in North America and tap into the big potential market in the region.”

“The pandemic has exposed how delicate the aviation pipeline truly is. OEMs and MROs have a consistent demand for airframe checks and engine shop visits, and relatively predictable demand for new repaired and used spares. Without a major Paradigm Shift, we will never find a solution. The African Aviation Renaissance is the Paradigm Shift needed for the solution to this Crisis.

This Tripartite Agreement will correct the trajectory of the Aviation come back. “said Dahir Mohammed, President and CEO of UTD Aviation Solutions.

The MoU will forge collaboration between AFRAA member Airlines’ associated MROs with US Airlines, MROs, OEMS, Distributors and other US civil aviation organizations companies. The management of the Airline’s MRO excess of spare parts inventory both locally and from the USA shall be coordinated through a virtual consignments platform.

The Brown Condor Initiative is code-named after Colonel John C. Robinson the first African American aviator who also participated in the Ethiopian victorious war against Italy. Colonel John C. Robinson was enlisted by the then Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie as a fighter pilot.

He immediately began training young Ethiopians in the technical complexities of aviation, especially pilots in preparation for war. For his daring service amid Ethiopian skies, Robinson earned international renown as the “Brown Condor of Ethiopia.” Through this unique joint initiative, UTD Aviation and AFRAA seek to re-establish the African aviation renaissance in MRO services and aircraft spares.

Unregistered tour operators still plying their trade, says CAG

Dar es Salaam. The Controller and Auditor General (CAG) has revealed the presence of unregistered tourism operators in the sector due to ineffective registration and licensing by the ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism (MNRT).

The CAG, Mr Charles Kichere in the 2020/21 performance audit report on the development and promotion of Tanzania’s tourism sector says that the MNRT had unrealistic targets for registration and licensing.

Report says the CAG interview with tourism officials indicated the presence of tourism operators who conduct their business without being registered by the MNRT.

It says most operators including those engaged in provision of accommodation facilities and most other businesses do not have physical offices and addresses, hence making it difficult to track their activities. “Similarly, interviewed tourism police officers stated that, there were cases of unregistered companies that are doing tourism business, with some of them claimed to be involved in criminal cases,” reads part of the report.

Furthermore, the report says that around 199 cases of unregistered companies were submitted to MNRT by tourism police, noting that upon verification 50 companies were confirmed to operate without registration. Reviewing fraud incidents, the report says that 12 online companies operated without registration and unlawfully obtained money by arranging tour visits from potential visitors/customers who directly communicated with them.

“Report indicated that, cases of such companies who obtained money fraudulently from visitors who contacted those companies directly was estimated to be more than $59,580 which is equivalent to Sh137 million,” reads part of report.

Report warns that presence of unregistered tourism operators pose a huge risk of provision of unqualified or substandard services as well as fraud incidents to visitors.

“Also, the image of the country in the tourism sector will be distorted if MNRT does not improve its enforcement in enhancing registration of tourism facilities and activities,” according to the report.

Regarding registration and licensing targets, the report says that the MNRT Strategic Plan 2016/17 to 2020/21 targeted registration of 2,051 tourism business operators.

However, according to an analysis of annual implementation reports from 2016/17 to 2020/21, MNRT was found to have registered and licensed 9,431 tourism facilities, which is equivalent to 460 percent of the target.

“This implies that MNRT had an unrealistic target for registration and licensing of tour operators since the target was achieved by 460 percent,” according to the report.

Availed data for auditing shows that registration of tourism facilities and activities increased from 1,269 in 2016/17 to 2,231 in 2020/21, but the number declined from 1,869 in 2017/18 to 540 in 2018/19.

According to the report, the decline could have been caused by failure to carry analysis to projected realistic numbers of registration and licensing targets.

Underestimated targets make it difficult to measure the performance of the MNRT.

Source: The Citizen

Safarilink to restart Kitale flights after two-year break

Domestic carrier Safarilink will on April 21 restart direct flights to Kitale after a two-year hiatus, following the reopening of the airstrip after renovation.

The airline that was launched in 2004 and markets itself as a tourist destination carrier will deploy a Dash 8-100 type of aircraft on the route flying five times a week down from a daily frequency to Kitale starting April 21, 2022.

Passengers heading to Kitale from Nairobi will pay Sh6,500 on a one-way ticket, prices that are relatively cheaper than when the airline stopped operations on the route.

Kitale was one of the routes operated by the carrier in the North Rift region from its hub at Wilson Airport in Nairobi.

The return of Safarilink to the North Rift town in Trans-Nzoia County is set to step up competition on pricing with other low-cost carriers planning to resume operations on the route.

The airline suspended flights to Kitale in early 2020 following the renovation of the airport.

Works on the project entailed expanding the runway to accommodate larger aircrafts.

“We will be resuming passenger operations from Nairobi to Kitale on April 21, 2022,” said Safarilink CEO Alex Avedi told the Business Daily in an interview on Friday.

Safarilink flies to major tourist destinations of Maasai Mara, Amboseli, Lewa Downs, Samburu, Lamu and Kilimanjaro, among other routes.

It also provides charter flight services across the East African region.

East African aviation formerly Fly-SAX also used to fly directly to Kitale from Wilson Airport and its comeback on the route is set to offer competition for customers flying in and out of the town known for its food production.

Eldoret, which is about 70 kilometres from Kitale, was also previously served by Fly540 which also increased its flights to the town early 2015.

Skyward Express on the other hand started flying to Eldoret in August 2015, adding to its other routes of Wajir, Mandera, Lodwar and Kisumu and Mombasa which were added later on.

Source: Business Daily

Boeing and Microsoft deepen partnership in digital aviation

As part of a significant investment in the company’s digital future, Boeing will leverage the Microsoft Cloud and its AI capabilities to update its critical infrastructure, streamline business processes and accelerate new innovations in digital aviation.

Boeing Company and Microsoft Corp. on Wednesday announced they are deepening their strategic partnership to accelerate Boeing’s digital transformation. Through the expanded collaboration, Boeing will leverage the Microsoft Cloud and its AI capabilities to update its technology infrastructure and mission-critical applications with intelligent new solutions that are data driven, further opening new ways of working, operating and doing business.

“Today’s announcement represents a significant investment in Boeing’s digital future.  Our strategic partnership with Microsoft will help us realize our cloud strategy by removing infrastructure restraints, properly scaling to unlock innovation and further strengthening our commitment to sustainable operations,” said Susan Doniz, Boeing chief information officer and senior vice president of Information Technology & Data Analytics. “Microsoft’s demonstrated partnership approach, trusted cloud technologies and deep industry experience will help us achieve our transformation goals and strengthen Boeing’s digital foundation.”

“Boeing and Microsoft have been working together for more than two decades, and this partnership builds on that history to support Boeing’s digital future by helping it optimize operations and develop digital solutions that will benefit the global aviation industry,” said Judson Althoff, EVP and chief commercial officer at Microsoft. “The power of the Microsoft Cloud and its AI capabilities will serve as the core component to Boeing’s digital aviation strategy by providing flexible, agile and scalable solutions that are intelligent and data driven on a secure and compliant platform.”

This partnership builds on a long history of the companies working together. As a leader in aerospace, Boeing was among the first to leverage the Microsoft Cloud, centralizing many of its market-leading digital aviation applications on Microsoft Azure and using artificial intelligence to drive customer outcomes and streamline operations. Today’s announcement will enable Boeing to unlock tangible and sustainable value held within its vast data estate and reinforces our mutual commitment to lead aerospace innovation for decades to come.

Source: Microsoft

ATM 2022: Dubai prepares for return of Arabian Travel Week

RX Global has unveiled plans for Arabian Travel Week, a series of digital and in person events in Dubai this spring designed to foster a recovery in the hospitality sector.

At the centre will be Arabian Travel Market, the leading trade show in the Middle East, which will focus on the future of international travel.

Delegates will examine the likely challenges ahead for the sector, while looking at how to build resilience in an industry that is still coming to terms with the “new normal”. 

“Covid-19 has dominated our lives since March 2020 and continues to do so in many parts of the world.

“However, although international travel and tourism has learnt from past experiences and adapted in some cases almost seamlessly, we now have an ideal opportunity to look ahead to the future of our industry.

“Dwelling too much on the pre-covid past, would not necessarily be productive, especially because so many industry parameters and social attitudes have since been completely reset,” said Danielle Curtis, exhibition director, Middle East, Arabian Travel Market.

Working in collaboration with the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) and the Dubai Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing (DTCM), the event will take place live and in-person from Monday, May 9-11.

In similar fashion to the 2021 format, a virtual edition will again take place the following week on May 17-18.

“Undoubtedly innovation through internet of things, artificial intelligence, virtual reality and improved connectivity overall, will change the face of our industry dramatically, however, there are other challenges, that we should address together and share industry best practice.

“These issues include climate change and broader social challenges, as well as stakeholder attitudes towards equity in health, education and economic opportunity, particularly in the communities that we operate in,” added Curtis. 

Show highlights in 2022 will include, among others, destination summits focused on key source markets in Saudi Arabia, China and India, as well as Travel Forward, the leading global event for travel technology which puts a spotlight on the latest, next generation technology for travel and hospitality.

There will also be ATM buyer forums and speed networking events, as well as Arrival Dubai @ ATM – a dedicated in-destination forum.

ATM 2022 will also host dedicated conference summits on the Global Stage, covering aviation, hotels, sports tourism, retail tourism and a special hospitality investment seminar.

The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), a business travel and meetings trade organisation, will once again be participating at ATM.

The GBTA will deliver the latest business travel content, research and education to drive the recovery and support growth in business travel.

ATM will play an integral role in Arabian Travel Week, a festival of events dedicated to travel professionals from all over world, to collaborate and shape the recovery of the Middle East travel industry, through exhibitions, conferences, breakfast briefings, awards, product launches and networking events

Given the global travel and social restrictions, the ATM 2021 live, and in-person event was well received, with over 21,600 attendees from 110 different countries.

During the virtual event, 30,790 profiles were registered on the ATM Virtual platform, almost 20,000 face-to-face virtual meetings took place and there were over 6,600 conference views.

Putting those figures into context, ATM which is often considered by industry professionals as a barometer for the Middle East and North Africa tourism sector, welcomed almost 40,000 people to its 2019 event with representation from 150 countries.

As the build-up to the largest travel trade show in the Middle East continues, Arabian Travel Market has been producing a series of encouraging reports, suggesting the worst of the pandemic may be over in the region.

Most recently, there was confirmation hotel development is continuing apace.

Despite the pandemic headwinds that the global hospitality industry has had to contend with, new hotel development in prime spots in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman and the UAE is robust.

According to new research commissioned by Arabian Travel Market and conducted at the end of 2021 by hotel market intelligence and global benchmarking company STR, Makkah and Doha are both expanding their hotel room inventory by 76 per cent.

This is followed by Riyadh, Medina and Muscat with 66 per cent, 60 per cent and 59 per cent growth respectively.

In Dubai, rooms growth stands at 26 per cent, which is still “extraordinary,” researchers said, considering its existing base and following years of continuous hotel development.

The figure is still more than double the global average.

Curtis added: “With the global average sitting at 12 per cent we are witnessing multiple GCC destinations growing at six times those rates.

“These figures coupled with the ongoing relaxation in travel restrictions, will undoubtedly encourage travel professionals throughout the Middle East and further afield.

“As such we are expecting a substantial increase in the number of participants at our live event this year, especially Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman and the UAE.”

There were also green shoots of recovery in the business travel sector.

Business travel expenditure in the Middle East is forecast to rise by a third this year, following a predicted 49 per cent increase during 2021.

That is according to a report by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) published in November.

Curtis said: “This positive data will provide a welcome boost for business travel and tourism professionals throughout the Middle East region, as economies around the world begin to relax travel restrictions, despite the disruption caused by the outbreak of the Omicron variant.

“During 2021, the increase in business spending for the full year is expected to have actually outpaced spending on leisure travel by 13, ten and one per cent in the Middle East, Europe and Africa respectively.”

Source: Breaking Travel News

I Fly Air Launches Flights to Wajir amid KAA’s KSh800 Million Expansion

I Fly Air airline has launched daily direct flights to Wajir, even as the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) says it is fast-tracking the expansion of Wajir International Airport, seeking to separate military from civilian operations.

Speaking during the launch of I Fly Air’s maiden flight to Wajir, KAA MD Alex Gitari said they have invested over KSh800 million in renovating the runways at the airport, with their focus now shifting to the terminals.

Gitari argues that with the increased traffic brought by I Fly Air, there is need to expand the airport and its amenities.

I Fly Air says their expansion to Wajir seeks to facilitate seamless travel for business people travelling to and from Wajir as there was no daily return flight before. The airline will also offer cargo services to its customers, albeit is small numbers.

The airline is further looking to expand its routes in the coming months to Mombasa, Ukunda, and Malindi as they increase their fleet.

Source: Kenya Wallstreet

New Travelport, Qatar Airways Distribution Agreement

LANGLEY UK – Travelport, a global technology company that powers travel bookings for hundreds of airlines and thousands of hotels worldwide, and Qatar Airways, one of the world’s leading global airlines, announced a comprehensive new long-term distribution agreement which will underpin the airline’s omni-channel, advanced retailing strategy. The expanded agreement will include, for the first time, NDC content and advanced travel merchandizing solutions – delivered via the next-generation Travelport+ platform.

In addition to extending a longstanding distribution agreement which delivers Qatar Airways content to Travelport-connected travel agencies globally, the agreement will also see Travelport distributing Qatar Airways’ NDC content. By enabling agencies to shop and book dynamic and personalized offers, this will enable the airline to offer differentiated value propositions closely tailored to micro customer segments. 

The contract now also includes the use of Travelport’s Rich Content and Branding solution. The technology provides travel agents with graphically rich images and descriptions on fares and ancillaries, equipping them to deliver an equally compelling brand experience, no matter the channel.

“We’re excited about the next chapter with Travelport supporting our growth ambitions,” said Thierry Antinori, Chief Commercial Officer at Qatar Airways. “As we look forward to the recovery in travel, we do not want to add additional obstacles such as surcharges, restrictions or inefficient technical solutions, as we deploy new NDC-based product offerings. Our aim is to provide a consistent shopping experience through all channels, to meet the expectations of our customers and promote the success of our travel trade partners.”

“As the world returns to travel, this is an opportune time to expand our decades-long relationship with Qatar Airways,” said Jason Clarke, Chief Commercial Officer, Travel Partners at Travelport. “We share a vision of modern digital travel retailing, and believe that this combination of NDC content, cutting-edge merchandizing technology, and advanced data intelligence – all made possible by our game-changing Travelport+ platform – will enable the agency sales channel to offer travelers the five-star service Qatar Airways is known for.”

Source: Travelport

Dubai’s Emirates signs new distribution agreement with Amadeus

Dubai carrier Emirates has signed a new agreement with travel technology company Amadeus, to extend their partnership.

From February 1, 2022, all trade partners on Amadeus will be able to access Emirates’ content free of surcharge. The new agreement will also see Emirates’ NDC (new distribution capability) content integrated into the Amadeus Travel Platform.

The NDC content will be made available to travel sellers over the year, a statement said.

Adnan Kazim, Emirates’ chief commercial officer, said: “In today’s environment, and particularly as the industry rebuilds post pandemic, everyone in the travel services chain will benefit from flexible models of engagement, multiple means to access dynamic rich content, and the ability to offer differentiated products and services.”

“With this new agreement with Emirates, we start 2022 building on the momentum made over the years to support modern retailing and once more demonstrating our commitment to continue offering through the Amadeus Travel Platform more travel content globally and at scale,” added Decius Valmorbida, president, travel, Amadeus.

Last year, the carrier launched a virtual reality app in the Oculus store, enabling customers to explore its products via interactive experiences.

Source: Gulf Business