Eleven dead in a Tanzania plane crash

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A tragic plane crash happened in Empakaai, near Ngorongoro, Tanzania on November 15, 2017. The Cessna 208 Caravan plane, operated by Coastal Aviation, was flying from Arusha to Serengeti National Park. Ten passengers and the sole pilot perished in the accident (Reuters news piece).

Despite being a relatively small plane, eleven victims make it among the worst plane crashes in 2017, that has been a remarkably quiet year in terms of aviation accidents.

Yet there has been very little about the crash in the international media, even if the plane carried western tourists. There is space for only one Africa news item at a time, and for the last few days it has been the coup in Zimbabwe.

Only three weeks earlier did the airline have another accident, it was only luck that everyone survived that time ( Dar Post report ).

Coastal Aviation has been known to be a reliable airline serving mainly tourist with scheduled and chartered flights between main cities, national parks and Zanzibar.  These accidents are a major blow to the airline, which may now face uncertain times.


Airline alliances in Africa

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There are three notable international airline alliances, namely Star Alliance, Oneworld and SkyTeam. Most large airlines are part of one of these alliances. Notable exceptions are Emirates, who have been hugely successful on their own, and most low-cost airlines, whose business model is much different to traditional airlines that form these alliances.

Many people favour flying primarily with one alliance, to reach upper status levels and get the best benefits. The negative side is that they often miss cheapest flights (most of them are business traveller who don’t have to pay themselves). The other problem is that the desired route or destination is often not served by an airline of the “right” alliance. This is especially true for those who travel in Africa, where the choice is often nonexistent.

Out of the three alliances, it is much obvious that Star Alliance is the only real option for travellers in this region, offering the best connections both within Africa and to other continents.

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Fake bomb forces Air France emergency landing

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The news of the day has that Air France flight AF463 from Mauritius to Paris made an emergency landing to Mombasa due to a bomb scare. After hours of contrasting rumours, and an incorrect statement by Kenya Airports Authority saying the bomb was real, it has now been revealed that the suspected bomb was actually a fake, but resembling what could be a real one. The “bomb” was made of cardboard, with an attached timer. Airport security screening would not caught this item assuming it is assembled afterwards. Some pictures of the bomb have been circulating on the web (not sure if these are authentic).

Air France Boeing 777 at Mombasa Airport after the emergency landing. A Fly540 plane is boarding on the foreground.

While the incident has been described in the media as a “false alarm“, this quite isn’t the case.  The crew on board had a good reason to believe it could be a real bomb, possibly detonating any moment. An emergency landing to the nearest possible Airport was the only option. The crew probably did the right thing not telling the 459 passengers why an emergency landing. (UPDATE: this article by Daily Nation claims that the passengers did indeed know about the suspected bomb when the plane was landing)

But who is behind the fake bomb? A bad joke by a tourist? Serious warning by a terrorist group?  Whichever the case, let the culprit be caught and pay for this stupid act.






Ethiopian Airlines rules the skies

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Ethiopian Airlines is an unlikely success story of African aviation industry. There are very few profitable airlines in Africa but Ethiopian Airlines has managed to operate profitably for years. At the same time self-proclaimed “Pride of Africa”, Kenya Airways may go under any date, while South African Airways is kept flying only by government subsidies. With a growing fleet size of about 75 aircraft and the destination count now over 100, Ethiopian is one of the largest airlines of the continent. The airline has grown steadily since it was founded in 1945, turning 70 years this December. Despite being wholly government owned, the airline has been spared of unnecessary political disturbance, even during less stable times Ethiopia has endured over the decades. The airline even bought American aircraft during the 80’s communist regime.

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