ethiopian airlines

More B787 Dreamliners, if only they could get them, a keen interest in Boeing’s latest bird, the B777X and up to 20 single aisle orders within a few months, the message could not have been clearer by Ethiopian Airlines that the carrier is intent to defend their continental top spot and make sure they retain it for years to come.

Tewolde Gebremariam, ET’s Chief Executive, was quoted by a source in Addis Ababa, to have let the cat out of the bag yesterday when he confirmed that the airline was in the final stages to lease at least three more B787 Dreamliners, and would buy more if only Boeing could produce enough of these aircraft, of which now over 150 are already delivered and criss-cross the globe every day.

What took industry observers somewhat by surprise though was the fact that Ethiopian, after an initial lukewarm response to the B777X, has now signaled a much keener interest in this performance enhanced version of the B777-300ER for which Boeing has bagged already significant orders from in particular Gulf airlines.

Ethiopian is reportedly considering an initial order of up to 10 such aircraft while continuing to take delivery of yet more B777-300ER’s.

It is also expected that Ethiopian will within weeks announce their decision on ordering as many as 20 more single aisle aircraft, and while it is understood that both the Airbus A320NEO and the Boeing B737MAX are being evaluated, the odds are stacked against Airbus as Ethiopian already operates 14 B737-800NG’s and B737-700NG’s and has 5 more on firm order. ET also runs one of Africa’s best reputed MRO’s at their Bole International Airport hub, dedicated to servicing Boeing aircraft and the airline, inspite of having 14 Airbus A350XWB-900’s on order, is thought unlikely to opt for a further aircraft type to be added to their overwhelming Boeing fleet. ET does presently operate 13 Bombardier Q400 aircraft used on domestic and near regional services and has another 8 on order.

In a related development it was also confirmed that after launching ASKY in West Africa two years ago and earlier this month commencing flights in a joint venture with the Malawi government under the Malawian Airlines brand, Ethiopian is now looking at Kinshasa to launch a third partner airline in a market which continues to be lacking a quality airline on the domestic, regional and international market which could break the EU Black List ban of which all Congo DR airlines are affected.

It is clear that Ethiopian Airlines is positioning itself to not only fend off competitive challenges from airlines in Africa, most notably closest rivals Kenya Airways which is pursuing a similar expansion strategy, but is also fighting to regain market share vis a vis the major Gulf carriers, which have in recent years, in the words of one regular source ‘ransacked our markets’, by offering nonstop services at allegedly near or below cost fares from across Africa to Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha from where passengers can the reach literally every corner of the globe.

Ethiopian, with a fleet of 61 aircraft and a further 42 on firm orders, will be 69 years old in April after commencing flight operations on the 08th of April 1946.

Source: Wolfgang H Thome


Kenya / Tanzania joint elephant census underway


An elephant population survey is now underway in the transboundary ecosystem of Tsavo West National Park, the Taita Hills Game Reserve and the Mkomanzi National Park across the border in Tanzania. This survey also affirms to ongoing close partnership and cooperation between TANAPA and KWS when it comes to transboundary activities, which after all benefit both organizations and both countries.

The game count commenced yesterday and was officially launched at the Sarova Taita Hills Lodge. The survey is also expected to bring some new insights into the migration patterns of elephant in the area, which in recent years has seen a significant increase of human – wildlife conflict, compelling the Kenya Wildlife Service to fence sections of the Tsavo West National Park to keep the elephant in, though periodic breakouts by large groups of elephant continues to pose a problem when they then raid crops and have to be driven back into the park at considerable cost.

The last census in 2011 revealed some 11.000 elephant in the area, making it a magnet for tourist visitors coming to Kenya and Tanzania on a big game safari and there is some concerns, considering the poaching increase over the past three years, that the numbers may be rather different this time.

Source: Wolfgang H Thome

Chinese ivory smuggler gets 232.000 US Dollar fine or 7 years in prison

A court in Nairobi has for the first time fully applied the new wildlife law when it sentenced a Chinese ivory smuggler, who was nabbed last week while in transit at JKIA transferring to his flight home to China. He was given the maximum fine of 20 million Kenya Shillings, or equivalent of over 232.000 US Dollars, and failing to pay the fine will have to spend 7 years in prison.

This loud and clear message to those trying to smuggle ivory while transiting in Nairobi though came too late for yet another Chinese man, who while coming from Lubumbashi and connecting to Guangzhou was late Monday night also arrested while in illegal possession of ivory carvings. He was produces in court yesterday morning and will face trial soon, with all necessary evidence at hand, likely to also receive the same punishment.

Kenya, and the world’s conservation fraternity, is not becoming a truly hostile territory for smugglers, many of whom have in the past been nabbed, admitted their guilt, had their ill gotten ivory confiscated and then walked away after paying at times just a few hundred dollars in fines. The new law however has given law enforcement a set of steel teeth, and prison terms up to life and fines of – at present exchange rate – around 232.000 US Dollars per incident, will undoubtedly serve as a major deterrent, at least for those with eyes to read newspapers, while others dumb enough to carry their blood ivory trinkets with them through Nairobi will face the music and enjoy Kenya’s prison hospitality for several years. Well done to the law enforcement officials, and the sniffer dogs at JKIA for their efforts, and thanks to the Kenyan judiciary for now making an example of those in the dock for such crimes.

Source: Wolfgang H thome

Air Mauritius eyes SkyTeam membership as new deal with Air France inked

air mauritius

Air Mauritius has renewed an extensive partnership agreement with equity shareholder Air France, aimed to further improve the airline’s march towards service improvements, cost savings and profitability,

Air France and Air Mauritius have been cooperating since 1998 through maintenance support, savings through joint procurement and other measures. The two airlines operate under a code share arrangement from Paris CDG to Mauritius’ Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport.

There is now intense speculation not if but when Air Mauritius will launch their membership application to join SkyTeam which would make it the second airline after Kenya Airways in Africa continent to become part of one of the world’s leading airline alliances. Air France holds an 8.5 percent stake in Air Mauritius and has been a shareholder since the airline was launched back in June 1967, though flight operations only commenced in 1972 with local flights to Rodrigues before launching international operations the following year with flights to London via Nairobi.

Source: Wolfgang H Thome

Nairobi lions start wearing satellite collars


Two lions; a male and a female, at Nairobi National Park began wearing satellite tracking collars Saturday (January 25, 2014) when a team of scientists, researchers and veterinarians initiated Nairobi National Park lion project.

The project, which will run for a period of two years, aims at raising awareness among the local people and tourists about lion movements and on how to prevent livestock predation.

Information gathered during the project will support Nairobi National Park and adjacent areas management strategies with respect to lions, and significantly contribute to lion conservation efforts in Kenya.

The project is expected to help scientists understand the extent lion ranging is affected by human and livestock distribution around the Park. The collars will also aid direct observations of the lions in the field to investigate pride structure and additional social behaviour.

Lion populations in Kenya are suspected to have decreased considerably over the last two decades, mainly due to habitat loss and conflicts with people and their livestock. There are an estimated 2000 lions in Kenya.

The project is jointly funded by Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), Safaricom Foundation, Institute of Environmental Sciences of Leiden University and the Leo Foundation.

Outright lies or innocent mistake – why name Kenya for a South African incident


The authors of an article with a deliberately misleading headline, suggesting an incident in South Africa, where a tourist got gored by an elephant actually took place in Kenya, has immediately led to suggestions that the publication has a hidden agenda against Kenya. Emails to the editor, according to two sources in Nairobi, went unanswered by the time of uploading this article, lending further credibility to the allegations, that there is a hidden agenda at work to downtalk Kenya by hook or crook, if not outright attempt to decampaign the country.

Authors Claire Duffin and Aislinn Laing themselves came into the firing line too with suggestions from the Kenyan tourism fraternity that the two suffer from an incurable geographical knowledge deficit, perhaps being among those who insult the continent by thinking that Africa is but one country, while others tended to believe that they are simply willing tools to make Kenya look bad, naming the country for an incident which took place four flight hours away, and to make matters worse, took place on 30th of December last year.

While the truth may or may not come out, the publication may very likely offer a shallow ‘sorry’ for an ‘unintended mistake’ this may, or of course rather may not be believed in Kenya, especially among tourism circles, where cold anger over the faux pas is now growing. After all, would you trust a publication which is geographically as challenged as is the ‘’?

Source: Wolfgang H Thome

Another rhino killed in Kenya

News emerged late yesterday, Sunday 26th of January, that a rhino was shot dead by poachers inside the generally well protected Nairobi National Park, as rangers found the carcass with the horns already removed.

A similar attack had taken place just 5 months ago in August, then, as now, raising the question of just how tight security around the park and especially around these prized animals is.

Kenya now has one of the toughest wildlife laws in the world in place with fines ranging up to 20 million Kenya Shillings or around 250.000 US Dollars and prison terms up to life sentences. Several poachers were in recent weeks shot dead by rangers and security personnel but there seems to be no end to human greed, inspite of the risks involved now for poachers, as this latest incident shows.

The South African disease of uncontrolled rhino poaching, last year alone were 1.004 rhinos slaughtered for their horns, has made its way to East Africa, as only last week a rhino was poached in the Serengeti, now followed by another one inside the Nairobi National Park.

An enraged conservation source from Nairobi literally shouted down the phone when discussing this latest rhino killing: ‘Rhino horn is just the same as finger or toe nails. We should start a campaign to force feed those Chinese and others over there our toe nail cuttings, perhaps that will cure them of whatever disease they hope to cure with powdered rhino horn’.

KWS, perhaps in view of the incident having taken place on a Sunday, has not yet issued any statement by the time of uploading this article though comments are expected on Monday morning.


Another regular source added his outrage when writing: ‘I am for sure not a supporter of extrajudicial killings but for poachers the time is now to shoot to kill. They show no mercy for elephant and rhinos, so they should expect no mercy themselves. They give bullets to these animals and should die by bullets too’.

The anger of conservationists is understandable as poaching is considered highly lucrative for poachers and their financiers and middle men but at the same time poses a deadly threat to the safari tourism business across East Africa, which in the opinion of some amounts to economic sabotage, and in the opinion of a few to high treason.

Only a few days ago did news come out of Hong Kong that the government there was given the green light to crush over 31 tons of blood ivory confiscated over the past few years while the big herds of elephant, especially in Tanzania, were ruthlessly decimated by commercial style poaching gangs.

Investigations are now underway in Nairobi to try and establish how the poachers managed to get in and out of the national park, shoot a rhino and get away with the horns without immediate detection. This latest in a series of incidents has also resulted in renewed calls for the deployment of UAV’s, aka drones, on a 24/7 basis so that suspicious movements can be detected in real time and airborne and ground units dispatched immediately.

Source: Wolfgang H Thome

You daily tourism news from Africa