FG Partnership With UNWTO, CNN Come Under Fire From Tourism Stakeholders

Stakeholders comprising some organised tourism private sector associations have reacted angrily to the recent announcement by minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed that the Federal Government will go into a tripartite partnership with the CNN and the United Nations World Tourism Organisation [UNWTO] to boost the Creative Industry in Nigeria, using the film industry as a pivot.

Kenya Airways Receives Air Traffic Rights For Direct US Flights

Kenyan national carrier, Kenya Airways has been granted air traffic rights to the United States airspaces, taking it a step closer to direct flights to the US, reports AllAfrica.com.

According to the report, Kenya’s Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia told Capital FM Business the airline is now waiting for other crucial licenses to see it fly to the US by March 2018.

Reasons Behind African Countries Having A National Carrier

One of the hot topics that will be discussed at AviaDev Africa this October will be the “National Carrier conundrum”- a impediment to or catalyst for economic prosperity?

Ahead of the event, Jonathan Worsley, Chairman, Bench Events spoke with a Director at Grant Thornton, Martin Jansen van Vuuren for his opinions.

Why do you think there is an obsession with having a national carrier in Africa?

I think it stems from a sense of national pride and shows a certain level of development. Every country aspires to be seen as more developed than its neighbours and there are certain items that are aspirational. A national airline is one, along with national assets such as a convention centre, parliament building and military force for example.

In 2016, African airlines made a combined loss of around $800 million, much of this coming from national carriers. What do you feel are the key issues that need to be addressed in order to change the fortunes of the continent? 

I feel that, ultimately, a national carrier is there to provide access to a region/country. However, in the past, there has not been enough thought given to the process of route development.

Put simply, routes were created according to political allegiances and not because they were commercially viable. The importance of strategic less viable routes, are recognised but this should be balanced with commercial viable routes to ensure the long-term sustainability of the national carrier.

Open skies is another huge issue. It has been talked about for almost 30 years and whilst the right noises are made during meetings to discuss the implementation, this commitment falls flat once everyone leaves the conference room. This is often because each country has to protect its national carrier as it is a state owned enterprise that is too big to be allowed to fail at the hands of competition.

One potential solution is to partner with an airline that has the expertise to run the airline profitably, but will in essence run the airline like a national carrier. A great example of this is ASKY from Togo, which is part owned by Ethiopian, but operates from a base in Lome and has seen success.

One national carrier that has bucked the trend is Ethiopian Airlines, what do you think are the secrets to their success? 

They have adopted a more intelligent approach to route development, understanding market forces and making commercial route planning decisions. There is also limited government interference in the day to day running of the airline. Undoubtedly, Addis’ geographic location on the African continent lends itself to being a hub for the rest of Africa.

It is my view that too many airlines want to get too big too quickly and Ethiopian have expanded, but always at a sustainable rate.

So, how do you feel about the hosts of AviaDev, RwandAir- will they succeed with their national carrier project? 

First of all, I think it is important to highlight the potential of Kigali and Rwanda as a regional hub for both business and tourism development. As other major cities in the region become more and more congested, Kigali will become more attractive as it has proved itself to be orderly, clean and efficient, provides connectivity and it also boasts a well-educated population.

Regarding the airline, the government have adopted a long-term vision. They have realised that they have to carry to capital cost of investing in new aircraft and the trade-off will be that aviation can be the economic enabler to stimulate the wider economy. A holistic strategy incorporating initiatives to invest in Rwanda will improve the utilisation and ultimately the viability of the airline.


Nigeria Tourism Private Sector Body Elects New Executive

The umbrella body for Nigeria’s private sector tourism business practitioners, the Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria [FTAN] has elected new executives to pilot the affairs of the body for the next two years.

The event held in Abuja last week, saw Rabo Saleh Karim of the National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies [NANTA], emerge as the President. Other executive members elected include Nkereuwem Onung as the first  National Deputy President; Abiodun Odusanwo, second National Deputy President, Ayo Olumoko Vice President, South West; Nura Kangiwa, Vice President, North East; Ngozika Ngoka, Vice President South East; Badaki Aliyu, Vice President , FCT,  Eugene Nwanzi, Vice President South South and John A. Adzer, Vice President, North Central

Also elected are, Ime Udo, Membership Secretary [1]; John-Likita M. Best; [2]; Emeka Anokwuru, Membership Secretary(3); Okorie Uguru, First Publicity Secretary and Joseph Karim, Publicity Secretary [2].

In his goodwill message, the Chairman, FTAN’s Board of Trustee, Samuel Alabi said the era of the Federal Government agency controlling or co-ordinating tourism has gone for good.

He said, that excerpt there is a constitutional amendment to include tourism under the exclusive or concurrent list  of the 1999 Constitution as amended, it will difficult for a federal agency to fully control tourism in the whole country.

Alabi stated further: “The fact that the Federal Attorney General is yet to apply section 215 of the 1999 Constitution of the heavily mutilated NTDC Act is still a surprise to me.”

The Chairman Board of Trustees of FTAN also commented on controversial NIHOTOUR bill: “During my time as the President of FTAN, I approached NIHOTOUR to provide an enabling environment for private sector driven certification body like CITN, ICAN, IPMN, NIPRP.

In fact, a draft bill was prepared but thereafter nothing was heard from NIHOTOUR end. I was shocked when I saw that the certification bill has been incorporated into the heavily castigated NIHOTOUR bill. I urge FTAN to play a leading role in this regard.”

On his part, the immediate past President of FTAN, Tomi Akingbogun, in his valedictory speech, said the association has expanded its membership base, and also noted some associations that had left the body before, like National Association of Tour Operators [NATOP], have returned to the fold.

Tomi said FTAN during his tenure, worked closely with the public sector and has also created programme to promote investment in tourism; the annual NTIFE.

Rabo Saleh Karim, in his acceptance speech, called for peace and greater unity among member associations.

He said: “Going forward, we plead to every one of us to bury the hatchet and pro-actively lend your supporting hands, even as you constructively criticize us”.

“We are not under any illusion of the enormous responsibilities you reposed on us here.

Membership of FTAN exco is by no means a ‘time for tea break’ or ‘a walk in the park’.  We shall relentlessly work to ensure that government agencies and the broader private industries in Nigeria become actively aware of FTAN’s activities and programmes.

More so, we would engage the present government’s ‘ease of doing business in Nigeria’ drive to fully integrate templates that facilitate domestic and inbound tourism sectors in Nigeria.”

Open Skies In Africa Will Be Fully Implemented In The Next Five Years – Rwand Air Chairman

Ato Girma Wake, is the current Chairman of RwandAir and former CEO of Ethiopian Airlines viewed by many as the Godfather of African aviation, having overseen the rise of Ethiopian Airlines.

Wake will be addressing the AviaDev Africa audience this October, discussing the current state of the industry on the continent and how it has changed during his 50 years of service to the industry.

Ahead of the conference, Jon Howell, Managing Director, AviaDev spoke with Wake about his thoughts on the state of the industry:

You are currently the Chairman of RwandAir- an ambitious and expanding airline,five years from now,do you think RwandAir will be rivalling the big three Sub-Saharan carriers in terms of size and scale?

Yes, I am currently the Chairman of RwandAir and have served in this capacity for the last five years. I have witnessed the progress RwandAir made year after year in terms of route network expansion, fleet renewal and capacity development.

In five years’ time, I expect it to further expand and strengthen its market and geographical reach. The big three Sub-Saharan carriers you referred to have been around for many years. It will be difficult for RwandAir to rival these carriers in terms of number of destinations, number of passengers, size of fleet and yearly revenue in the next five years.

However, I can assure you it can rival any airline in terms of on-time departure, quality of services and standard of performance. The size and scale will be reached a bit later.

You have lived and worked against the back drop of the open skies for Africa discussions. Do you think we will ever have truly open skies in Africa or is this simply wishful thinking?

True, we have struggled with the concept of open skies in Africa for twenty eight long years since the idea was first floated in 1989 as Yamoussoukro Declaration. It was later changed to Yamoussoukro decision in 1999. We have seen tremendous improvement in ease of bilateral traffic rights in the last fifteen years and I am sure open skies in Africa will be fully implemented in the next five years.

There could be some resistance and hurdles here and there for the short term, but the determination of our Heads of States to create One African sky will prevail. We now have the structure and the legal framework in place and we are ready for a truly Open Skies in Africa.

Which airlines operating currently in Africa do you think have the potential to be the future stars of the continent and why?

I would like to see all African airlines shine, but as you know life is not that fair. I believe Africa will have four or five large, long haul operators and a few regional and mid-size airlines in the next ten years. When and if the nationality [ownership] clause is removed, consolidation will take its course which will lead to fewer, but stronger African Airlines in the long term.

Coming back to your question, forgive for my bias, but I honestly believe Ethiopian Airlines will remain one of the stars. It has a good foundation, a strong aviation academy to continue producing trained skilled manpower, it has a good maintenance facility that not only serves the airlines, but brings in revenue for the airline, an excellent route network, committed management and staff, leadership continuity, a long term vision for sustained operational excellence, a centrally located growing hub and a government that gives the airline free hand to manage its affairs.

Moreover, it continues to be the most profitable airline on the continent. Consequently, I believe Ethiopian will continue to remain in the forefront as a star.

Kenya Airways, South African Airways, Egypt Air and Royal Air Maroc will also be in that league. I only hope the first three will solve their current problems. These carriers are good airlines with reasonable size fleet, route network, and traffic density.

It is my belief that Kenya airways and South African Airways can easily sustain the status of Stars in Africa if they do something about their management stability and if in the case of South African Airways, the heavy arm of the state can be removed from the day to day operation of the airline. RwandAir, ASKY and Air Cote d’Ivoire are upcoming stars in their areas of operation.

It is my sincere hope and desire to see one Nigerian carrier emerge as a star when the current temporary turmoil in the aviation industry in Nigeria is settled.

I hope and pray it will be sooner than later. Given the traffic volume, there is strong probability for a well-managed Nigerian carrier to emerge as a star in Africa. I have not included the Indian Ocean island carriers in this category due to their limited operational participation in the continent.

Wake will address the audience this October during AviaDev. Find out more about this landmark event for African aviation development and register now at www.aviationdevelop.com